The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Posted On 20 February 2020

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TheGuestlistAround the end of 2018 I picked up The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley and really enjoyed it (my review is here)- so much so that when I saw The Guest List was due to be published this month I nearly had a conniption rushing to request a copy.  And I was so lucky to be approved that I positively danced a little victory dance.  Okay, I did dance that dance but I refuse to be shamed by it.  I was a happy reader (having a request approved just never gets old for me and always amazes and delights me in equal measure).

So, the Guest List.  Did it live up to my high expectations?  It most certainly did, in fact I think it surpassed them in some ways and if pushed I’d probably say I liked it even more than The Hunting Party (more victory dancing).  Foley has a fantastic way of taking a group of characters and really bringing them to life.  She seems an expert in creating murder mysteries where everyone has something to hide and I’m simply loving her work (no pressure at all there then).

This is a story that definitely has Christie vibes.  Here we have a group of people assembling on a remote island to enjoy a wedding.  It should be a joyous occasion (although we all know how disastrously these little get togethers can be, people who haven’t met for years with old grudges coming out of the woodwork).  The setting is very remote – this is a tiny island off the coast of Ireland accessible only by boat.  Of course, in true murder mystery fashion the weather is not going to co-operate and what starts off as a bright and sunny day soon looks like a different kettle of fish as stormy clouds gather on the horizon and as the weather changes so does the mood of the guests and there’s this terrible tension before things go horribly wrong.

Okay, this shares a lot of themes with The Hunting Party – but they’re such good themes that they work.  The isolated setting.  The meeting up of a group of people, all with their own secrets and motives and the eventual discovery of a body that for a while is part of the mystery itself as the identity is not immediately revealed.

The story is told in two timelines, ‘Now’ and ‘The Day Before’ and has five different POVs.  Now, to be clear, this may sound like a lot of jumping around and lots of names to remember, but Foley has made it all deceptively simple by not only clearly heading each chapter but also by giving people relevant titles so we have The Bride, The Bridesmaid, The Plus One, The Wedding Planner and the Best Man.

The wedding itself is a big posh celebrity affair.  The Groom is an up and coming star who is the leading man in a successful survival show.  The bride is the owner of a very popular online magazine that sets trends and dictates fashion ‘must haves’.  Of course the two are going to have a lavish affair that showcases their beauty, success and taste and the wedding has been planned down to the finest detail (although the murderer has a different agenda).

I will say that if you plan on reading this you need to be aware that some of the characters are a little unlikeable – although as you get to know them you start to get a deeper understanding of their own personal drivers.  The bride for example.  A little (a lot) vain, desperately needs to be in control and ensure that everything is perfect and she comes across as a little cold and calculating.  She does reveal a different side as the story progresses though so be patient.  The groom, who doesn’t have his own POV chapter but we see through the other pov’s eyes.  So dazzlingly attractive that he stops most people in their tracks, charming and able to smile his way into anybody’s good books.  What the groom shares with both his Best Man and Ushers is a past.  They all attended a top notch private school for the privileged and most of them have been incredibly successful as a result.  Foley does an excellent job of portraying these characters and their bully-boy ways painting them in rather aggressive or patronising tones dependent upon who they’re trying to curry favour with or belittle.  The bridesmaid (and younger sister to the bride) has experienced some sort of trauma in her past that has made her retreat into herself.  She has withdrawn to a dark and lonely place and finds it difficult to connect to anyone.  Basically, I’m not going to give a description for everyone as these people are best discovered during the read.  Suffice to say that there are a lot of secrets here and they will all be revealed in a most deliciously startling and jaw dropping fashion.

The setting is great and really plays into the story.  Here you have a tiny island, only two miles long and a fraction of that in width.  Very little wifi signal and no residents other than the owners of the wedding venue.  There are beautiful, sheltered, white sandy coves with sparkling turquoise waters.  The old house has been renovated to perfection and outside stands the remains of a chapel – open to the elements – where the wedding will take place.  It all sounds simply superb.  Of course, the sunshine has a way of beautifying everything doesn’t it.  Roll in the stony skies and the seas crashing against the rocks and the cliffs and bogs take on a more threatening demeanour, especially with all the rumours of ghosts running amok and the dodgy electrics going out at the most inopportune times.

The pacing is brilliant and I love the way Foley writes.  She puts me very much in mind of DuMaurier with the easy way she brings her characters and settings to life.  I had a difficult time putting this down and was always anxious to sit back down and pick up where I left off.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, this isn’t a particularly long book and there is plenty fitted into the available pages.  I guess this could have been expanded slightly to help develop some of the characters at a slower pace, for example, the bride and groom – I wasn’t totally convinced by their relationship.  They were definitely in lust with each other but I couldn’t quite understand why they’d decided to marry.  The ending in particular feels almost over a little too quickly – but, I think that’s just me being greedy for more.   This is a two day event and fittingly I actually devoured it in the same time frame.

I highly recommend The Guest List.  If you like mysteries with lots of secrets then you really can’t go wrong with this one.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 5 of 5 stars




26 Responses to “The Guest List by Lucy Foley”

  1. Tammy

    Wow, I’m glad you loved this even more than the first one. This is an author I’d love to check out one of these days😁 Awesome review, Lynn!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks Tammy, hope you get a chance to read one of her books at some point.
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    The theme of the isolated venue where things go horribly wrong never gets old – and I think that in these cases characters must be a little unlikable, because this adds spice to the mixture… 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Exactly – I like that she gives a lot of the characters motives as the same time as making them prickly – it makes them into easy suspects and casts a lovely net of confusion and red herrings.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Paul's Picks

    I love a good thriller, esp to read between my SFF reads. Straight to my TBR after this good review!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks Paul. I’m also enjoying my thrillers and murder mysteries at the moment. They’re really good in between epic fantasy!
      Lynn 😀

  4. sjhigbee

    Blimey! This is clearly a cracking read… I enjoy murder mysteries and your excellent review is calling to me – though I might see if I can order at it the library *said she, virtuously*…

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha – yes,I love library books. Did you read the Hunting Party?
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        No, I haven’t – though this recommendation from you is making me consider ordering it…

  5. Greg

    I love the sound of this. And I wanted to read the Hunting Party as well and just haven’t gotten to it yet, so now I have two books by this author to enjoy haha!

    • @lynnsbooks

      They’re both good if you like a murder mystery with lots of suspects and tension.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum


    Oh wait, it already was on there, haha. I think I added it when you featured this for a Waiting on Wednesday. Even more excited to read this now though! But I have wait until May for the US release 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Ahh, I didn’t realise you had a later release – it’s usually the other way around. I’m really enjoying this author. She has a way of creating really good tension and lots of red herrings. Plus her writing style is really good, deceptively simple in some ways it really brings the places she writes about easily to mind.
      Lynn 😀

  7. pagesandtea

    Great review. Glad you enjoyed this one even more than The Hunting Party. I love your mentions of both Christie and DuMaurier. Reading this makes me even more excited to get my library copy. I seriously had to resist just picking this one up when I saw it in the supermarket yesterday 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks. I really liked this. Foley definitely uses a lot of the same tricks here that were present in the Hunting Party but they work so well. She doesn’t immediately reveal who is murdered, she brings together a bunch of people with shared history – not a lot of it good, and she makes quite a lot of the people unlikable – but with good reason, she wants you to suspect them all. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
      Lynn 😀

  8. sydneyeditor1

    Fabulous review; I didn’t even know she had a new one out!

  9. alwaysneedmorebooks

    Reading this next! Really looking forward to it!

  10. waytoofantasy

    Just the cover text is giving me Christie, sounds like a great read. I really do need to start reading more mysteries. Glad you enjoyed this one so much.

  11. Jen | Book Den

    Yay! I read another five star review for this one today, too. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed it – definitely an author I shall keep an eye on.
      Lynn 😀

  12. Looking Back at 2020 : The Ghost of Books Past | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Guest List by Lucy Foley – no surprise that this one has been so highly acclaimed.  I’ve read both her books and highly recommend them.  I’m eager to see where this author takes us next. […]

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