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Mystery set on an island off the coast of Ireland, Connemara

17th February 2020

The Guest List by Lucy Foley, mystery set on an island off the coast of Ireland, Connemara.

A wedding is “..all about the moment.. all about the day..”

Mystery set in on an island off the coast of Ireland, Connemara

Just imagine all the things you can do with a group of people parked on an island, off the coast of Ireland. The wedding of Jules Keegan and Will Slater is due to take place on this remote little wind-blown lump of granite, jutting out of the water. The Folly, perched atop this unforgiving and rather eerie island, belongs to Aoife the wedding planner and her husband. She is anticipating juicy exposure of her wedding venue because Jules runs The Download, a lifestyle magazine and Will is a well known TV personality. Publicity like that is to die for! And indeed a body does turn up!

Will has assembled his group of friends from school. The Old Trevellyans are a febrile and bullying lot. There is also Charlie, who is Jules’ best friend from a surfing holiday (he was the instructor, she the classy tutee). He is there with his wife. Johnno, the best man and fellow Trevellyan, discovers that Will has a rather dirty secret which hardly even trumps the secret the two of them share from way back. Frankly, virtually everyone has a history, and secrets are ripening and festering amongst the congregation. Everything starts to unravel after the speeches. By now the weather is inclement with a high wind blowing a hooley across the marquee.

The seeds are sown early on in the book for discord, tension and upset. Jules discovers a little warning note suggesting that Will is not who he seems. And on the evening before the wedding there is a stinking sea creature buried deep at the bottom of the nuptial bed. There are echoes of the seaweed ritual that used to go on back at the public school. A jape, perhaps, but one in very poor taste and very upsetting. Aoife spots a cormorant on the church steeple, a sure premonition of bad luck.

Each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective, headed by the name and, helpfully, further described by the role they have in the wedding. Thus it soon becomes quite easy to differentiate between the persona in this quasi Greek tragedy.

The author is tremendous at creating an all-encompassing and spooky setting, She certainly pulled off a grim and haunting backdrop in The Hunting Party (Scottish Highlands). In The Guest List, this little craggy outcrop, the fictional Inis An Amplóra (Cormorant Island) off the coast of Connemara, accessed only by boat, makes for a haunting setting, with its graveyard, pounding seas and mud that will soon suck you under.

The cast of characters harbours an incredible number of grudges and secrets and this aspect of the book in one way drives the narrative at a cracking pace but in an another ultimately makes it teeter on the edge of credibility. I guarantee, however, that this will a top and popular read in 2020. Enjoy!

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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