Friday, July 9, 2021

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Guest List is a real page-turner, pulling the reader along through chapter after chapter laden with foreboding and foreshadowing of something fearful to come.

The chapters swap between characters and time (moving from shortly before the wedding to the wedding night itself), slowly introducing you to the main players and their internal thoughts and motivations. It was a lot of fun, even with several improbable factors. Not the least of which being that someone invested in creating a wedding venue at a site with the inhospitable location and weather of that sinister small island, strewn with bogs that can swallow a person up faster than quicksand in an old Western movie. Besides the risk of weather woes and the possibility of rough waters, you also only have lodging for a few guests on the island itself, which requires the shuttle by boat of drunk guests — in the dark — back to the mainland after a long evening of wild dancing and open bars (not a great proposition even if you don't factor in stormy conditions, but so much worse when the weather rages). It made me think of Castaway 2000, a British reality show set on a remote Scottish island where the frequently rough seas meant you couldn't just hop a boat and leave anytime you wanted, you had to defer to the untamable force of the sea. 

That wasn't the only little plot quibble, but I mention it because I have a ball pondering some of the shaky details found in most books that help the author take the plot where she wants it (and because I don't want to go into the details of the actual story too much, as you'll have more fun discovering that on your own). The small plot blips here were easy to overlook and forgive for the sake of the story, but I enjoy thinking about this particular one as an aside. Because no way in hell would I be taking out a loan to get that business going. Could you even get enough insurance to cover the liability? Guests could easily drown, fall off a cliff or be swallowed up by the bog — State Farm ain't backing that. It's like you're setting yourself up for a matrimonial version of Fyre Festival, and don't nobody want that for their nuptials (or their business venture).

The observant reader will figure out a hint of what's about to go down and why by about a third of the way in, with more coming into focus by halfway through and continually building. But there are so many details and possibilities that it'll be engaging reading right up to the end even if you've figured out the broad strokes, and equally or more fun if you haven't.

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