Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List

I have really enjoyed Lucy Foley’s previous work – both her epic historic novels (The Invitation and The Book of Lost and Found), and her last one, which was a crime thriller called The Hunting Party. So when I saw she had a new one out I’m not embarrassed to admit I kind of begged on Twitter for an ARC – and the publisher and Netgalley were kind enough to grant my wish!

Here is the blurb:

“On a remote island, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.

Old friends.
Past grudges.

Happy families.
Hidden jealousies.

Thirteen guests.
One body.

The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.
All have a secret. All have a motive.
One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .”

From the outset this book had a feel of The Hunting Party – both in terms of content (middle class people in a remote destination) and style (each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view – and it flicks between time periods, so some of it is in the build up to the wedding, and some is from when the body is found).  But it is just as brilliant as Ms Foley’s previous book – so why mess with a format that was a best seller!?

This time the setting is a remote island off the Irish coast which is allegedly haunted – and as with all of the author’s previous work – the geographical descriptions are wonderful, along with the wild weather and both really evoke the feeling of being there.

There are huge twists and turns – and you’re never quite sure who you should be rooting for.  For a long time any of the characters could have been the victim or the killer!  I have to say that Hannah (who was the plus one of the bride’s male BFF) was my favourite character – possibly because she was a mother off the Mum leash for the wedding – something I can totally empathise with – and I also suffer horribly with sea sickness!

Some of the coincidences are a little far fetched – but I guess that often happens in whodunnits like this – and it didn’t spoil the book for me at all.

The chapters build in pace, seemingly getting faster and faster (although perhaps that was just my excited reading?!) – and very cleverly, the final line of a few of the chapters near the end is the same. So smart.

I don’t want to give any spoilers on the victim or the murderer – but it’s good!

As with all of Lucy Foley’s books it’s incredibly well written in terms of language, but also in terms of plot intricacies too, which I really enjoy – I don’t like being spoonfed a storyline.  Well done to Ms Foley – and I suspect a fabulous editor – on ensuring no plot holes in something so complex.

I suspect this will be a big hit on the 2020 bestsellers list – so get in early and pre order a copy now ready for its release!

 

 

Book Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

the hunting party

I’ve read, and enjoyed, books by Lucy Foley before – so when I saw someone raving about this new one on Twitter, I hopped on to Netgalley to try and nab an advanced review copy – but couldn’t find it.  I shared my despondency on Twitter, and the lovely Lucy Foley herself sent me a link to it on Netgalley where I could download it.

The previous books by Ms Foley that I’ve read have been fabulous epic novels straddling eras and continents – but this was a departure, her first crime / thriller book.  I have to say, I had high expectations.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“A shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.
All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.
During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands–the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.
Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.
The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.
Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.
Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?”

I loved it from the start!  It flicks between who is narrating – sometimes it’s one of the female guests or the female staff member (in the first person) or one of the male members of staff (the only one in the third person) – and it also flicks between before and after the murder.  This jumping around keeps you on your toes and builds the suspense brilliantly.  There are clues throughout as to who the victim is – but it’s not actually revealed until near the very end – which really does keep you guessing.  It also meant I couldn’t put it down and read far too late into the night!

As with Ms Foley’s previous books, the descriptions of the geographical landscapes are incredible and stunningly atmospheric – you really feel like you’re snowed in somewhere in the Highlands too.

The group of friends, who have mostly known each other since being at Oxford Uni together – apart from relative newcomer Emma – aren’t that nice!  There wasn’t a single one that I was rooting for particularly – but that didn’t lessen my interest in the book. There are lots of underlying tensions – between partners and between friends – which means any of them could be victim or murderer, and there are other people in the frame as well.  The staff seem to have hidden pasts for various reasons, and there are a couple of Scandi’s thrown in for good measure – only adding to the intrigue. It’s like a modern day Agatha Christie and would make a perfect Sunday night drama on TV – or even feature film.

Yet again I like the cleverness and intricacy of the plot, and feel like a lot of thought has gone into writing it both in the structure, content and use of language.  Ms Foley is a very talented writer indeed. In a world of ‘disposable’ fiction, this feels like a book that will stand the test of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Invitation by Lucy Foley

I really enjoyed Lucy Foley’s debut novel – The Book of Lost and Found – and so was delighted when a friend let me borrow a copy of her second book ‘The Invitation’ to bring on holiday.

The Invitation

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“Rome, 1950s. One fateful night, Hal Jacobs meets Stella, a beautiful society darling from New York. To Hal, flailing in the post-war darkness, she’s a point of light. They’re from different worlds, but both trying and failing to carve out a new life.

Stella vanishes all too quickly, until a curious invitation from an Italian Contessa reels her back into Hal’s world. They join the Contessa’s collection of luminaries on a yacht headed for Cannes film festival.

The scene on board is a fiction – scars from the war can be hidden yet not healed. Everyone is hiding a dark history, but Stella’s secrets run the deepest. Compelled by her fragile beauty, Hal is determined to bring back the girl she once was, the girl who’s been confined to history.

The Invitation is an epic love story that will transport you from the glamour of the Italian Riviera, to the darkness of war-torn Spain, and to a golden – if rather haunted – time.”

Now I’m not normally a fan of historical novels – and would not pick one by choice – but was willing to give this the benefit of the doubt – and was very pleased I did.  I really enjoyed it from chapter 1.

It is set in different parts of Italy (and occasionally surrounding countries) and describes them beautifully and very vividly – particularly the chapters that move along the Italian Riveria – it’s definitely inspired me to want to visit that area of Italy.

As with Ms Foley’s previous book – it moves between different time periods, and different characters holding the narrative, seamlessly and adds to the epic nature of the book.  I really felt involved in the book and in the fate of everyone – particularly Hal.

There are some great twists and turns – particularly towards the end – which I couldn’t possibly give away, but are very enjoyable.  I also liked that there was a proper ending with loose ends suitably tied up.

It feels well written and structured – which might sound a bit geeky, but I like that in a book.  I felt like real care was taken with the descriptions and the flow of the story – it feels like a grown up’s book – but in a good way, not a fuddy duddy way!

So all in all, yet another great book from Lucy Foley – and I look forward to her next one already.

 

 

Book Review – The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley

I was lucky enough to be given an advanced copy of this to review by my wonderful book industry insider friend. As it was a debut book for Lucy Foley I had no expectations at all – which is often a more exciting way to start a book!

The Book of Lost and Found

This is what Amazon had to say about it:

“In many ways, my life has been rather like a record of the lost and found. Perhaps all lives are like that.

It’s when life started in earnest.
Hertfordshire, 1928 – The paths of Tom and Alice collide against a haze of youthful, carefree exuberance. There’s champagne and excitement, but above all there’s the beginning of a love story that finds its feet by a lake one silvery moonlit evening . . .

It’s when love stories didn’t have happy endings.
Paris, 1939 – Alice is living in the city of light, but the pain of the last decade has already left its mark. Against the shadow that sweeps across Europe, she and Thomas Stafford – now a world famous artist – meet once more . . .

It’s when the story begins.
London, 1986 – Bestowed with an old portrait drawing from her grandmother, Kate Darling can’t possibly imagine the secrets that have been lost to time. Kate’s journey takes her to Corsica, Paris and beyond, and as time melts away she is catapulted into the heart of a love story that’s as epic as it is life changing . . .

Sweeping and heartrending – the perfect read for fans of Victoria Hislop and Kate Morton.

Now this book jumps between time periods – as you can see from the above – but it does it in a free flowing, telling of the story kind of way – it is not a regimented one chapter here, one there routine. Also – the chapters vary massively in length – which I love – and adds to the suspense. It is BEAUTIFULLY written, and really evokes the settings of the story – and makes me want to hop on a plane to Paris and Corsica very soon – and the bits in New York reminded me of our recent trip.

I really liked lots of the characters and wanted to see how their paths developed. There are lots of twists and turns but the whole story flows wonderfully – and I think it would make a fabulous film with some amazing backdrops to the story (although actually, maybe a film wouldn’t do it as much justice as the pictures in my own head from the thoughtful and descriptive words).

I have to confess to crying at the end – and the ending wasn’t what I expected – but in retrospect was just perfect.   With about 4 chapters to go I did wonder how it would all  get wrapped up – but it does.

I would definitely recommend pre-ordering this ready for its release in January 2015 – and look forward to more books by Lucy Foley in the future.