Book review: The Guest List

This is the third Lucy Foley I’ve read, and it is most definitely her best.

This mystery novel set on a remote, wild island off the coast of western Ireland digs deeps into the psyches of its multiple point of view characters, and the slow reveals keep the story moving quickly and maintain reader interest in the whodunnit element hinted at through a dual timeline storyline.

Will, a rising TV star on his own rugged survival show, and his bride-to-be Jules are the golden couple at the center of this tale, and it is their exclusive wedding on the remote Irish island of Inis an Amplóra, off the Connemara coast, that brings together this vast cast of characters.

Jules is the bride, a highly successful editor of the lifestyle magazine she created from the ground up. Like the readers of the articles in her magazine, Jules covets the admiration and envy of those around her. After all, being liked has never been one of her strengths. She’s certain this unique wedding destination will have everyone talking about the bridal couple, and it may earn her the long-sought affection she never obtained from her distant father and self-obsessed mother.

A fun mystery novel taking place at an exclusive wedding weekend on a remote island off the western coast of Ireland, with slow reveals and masterful character development.

Much to Jules’ dismay, her half-sister, Olivia, does not seem to be taking her bridesmaid role seriously enough. A recent college drop-out still hiding that fact from most of her family, Olivia is wrestling with painful memories that threaten to overshadow the wedding festivities.

Plus-one Hannah is trying to treat this weekend as a well-deserved holiday from her young kids and responsibilities. At least, her husband Charlie had promised her that this get-away this would be a special time alone for them, even if it’s not panning out that way. Something happened between Charlie and Jules one summer long ago, and it becomes increasingly difficult to banish those youthful indiscretions to the past.

Best man Johnno and Will go way back – to their days at boarding school. Unlike Will, Johnno’s career success has been elusive, something harder to brush off when gathered once again among old childhood friends attending the wedding. Amongst the rambunctious ribbing and heavy drinking, long-kept secrets begin to emerge.

Organized, efficient Aiofe and her husband call Inis an Amplóra home. In her meticulous fashion, Aiofe has organized to perfection every detail of the first wedding to be held here since they moved to the deserted island. After all, success could lead to other destination weddings at this remote locale.

Although the island’s remoteness contributes to its exclusivity, it also means it is easy to be cut off from the mainland when the weather takes a turn for the worse – and it will. On the stormy, cut off island, one guest won’t make it out alive.

This was a fun mystery novel, with slow reveals and masterful character development, all unfolding through alternating chapters told through five point of view characters. I enjoyed delving into the multiple layers of their lives revealed through their innermost thoughts. A fast and engaging read.

3 Comments

  1. wordfoolery on May 28, 2021 at 11:17 am

    I loved the Guest List too, particularly as I’ve visited several islands in that area and her setting details were perfect. I’ve seen some reviewers comparing her unfavourably to Agatha Christie’s work but even as a Christie superfan I think she takes her own modern spin on it with faithful nods towards the Queen of Mysteries.

  2. kimberlysullivan on May 28, 2021 at 7:50 pm

    Glad to hear your views as an Irish reader, too, Grace. The region sounds wild and interesting … though when I finally do visit – no deserted islands for me at night! I agree with you. I also like Agatha Christie, and appreciate anyone who takes up the mantle. But I actually find the whodunnit aspect a minor element of the novel, something that was more central to Christie’s works. I liked all the delving into characters in this novel – and the great setting.

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