The Party
A gripping story of obsession and betrayal, privilege and hypocrisy, set in the unassailable heart of the British establishment.As the train pressed on, I realised that my life was in the process of taking a different direction, plotted according to a new constellation. Because, although I didn't know it yet, I was about to meet Ben and nothing would ever be the same again.Martin Gilmour is an outsider. When he wins a scholarship to Burtonbury School, he doesn’t wear the right clothes or speak with the right kind of accent. But then he meets the dazzling, popular and wealthy Ben Fitzmaurice, and gains admission to an exclusive world. Soon Martin is enjoying tennis parties and Easter egg hunts at the Fitzmaurice family’s estate, as Ben becomes the brother he never had.But Martin has a secret. He knows something about Ben, something he will never tell. It is a secret that will bind the two of them together for the best part of 25 years.At Ben’s 40th birthday party, the great and the good of British society are gathering to celebrate in a haze of champagne, drugs and glamour. Amid the hundreds of guests–the politicians, the celebrities, the old-money and newly rich–Martin once again feels that disturbing pang of not-quite belonging. His wife, Lucy, has her reservations too. There is disquiet in the air. But Ben wouldn’t do anything to damage their friendship. Would he?

The Party Details

TitleThe Party
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 13th, 2017
PublisherFourth Estate
ISBN-139780008194260
Rating
GenreFiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Contemporary

The Party Review

  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this book was spellbinding —�the plot was compulsively stimulating - interesting and captivating!!!! It drew me in with a magnetic force. Readers who might have read - and enjoyed “Seating Arrangements”,by Maggie Shipstead, or any of Herman Koch books -should feel at home with Elizabeth Day’s “The Party”.....who by the way writes some of the most interesting observations about people ( her characters) that I’ve ever come across. Who notices - and writes about the flesh between a person I thought this book was spellbinding —�the plot was compulsively stimulating - interesting and captivating!!!! It drew me in with a magnetic force. Readers who might have read - and enjoyed “Seating Arrangements”,by Maggie Shipstead, or any of Herman Koch books -should feel at home with Elizabeth Day’s “The Party”.....who by the way writes some of the most interesting observations about people ( her characters) that I’ve ever come across. Who notices - and writes about the flesh between a person’s fingers? I know ‘many’ friends who - like me - from start to finish - will be completely mesmerized by the plot, crafting, characters, gut wrenching non-politically correct details- the suspense - the police interrogation- and the “WHAT HAPPENED?” This is a contemporary psychological thriller ( using the word thriller for a lack of a better word), with astute sagacious writing. Other people will despise this novel. So to be upfront....THIS REVIEW INCLUDES SPOILERS....(not primary spoilers to the GREATER STORY IN ITSELF), but detail WARNINGS about ‘ANIMAL WELFARE’. THERE IS THE KILLING OF A SPARROW. ( one scene) THERE is a monologue- expression about hating animals:(one scene):“I’ve never liked animals. I find it sickening how we fetishise them with tartan dog coats and velvet cat collars with special tins of food with jellied rabbit chunks and how we invite them into our homes, these wild, unthinking things, and expect them to reflect all be human characteristics we most wish to see in ourselves.”The story begins in a police station. Martin Gilmour, 39 years of age, prime narrator - is being interviewed by the authorities: a Beige hair female cop, Nicky Bridge and a Gray suit male cop, Kevin McPherson. It’s the second time in Martin’s adult life that he’s been interviewed by the police. On both occasions, it was because of his friend Ben. WHY?The other ( sorta narrator: Lucy Gilmour )....intersperses diary writings. The alternating points of view work excellent in this novel.... and I’m picky with this format...but Elizabeth Day ....is very talented at it! Martin and Ben became friends in boarding school at the age of 13. Martin went out of his way to ‘get’ Ben to notice him when they were in school - doing everything in his power to win him over as his best friend..... taking a strong interest in anything Ben was interested in. Martin was always right behind in Ben’s shadow. So much so that he acquired the name “Little Shadow”.....being called LS for short. Martin grew up living with his single mother. His father died before he was born. His relationship with is mother gave me the willies. Creepy! Martin grew up poor - and insecure about himself. His academic scholarship to a boarding school at age 13 looked like an opportunity to reinvent himself from ‘awkward and shy’ to a little more ‘with-it’. Ha! Ben Fitzmaurice - is the confident cool - natural leader type - classmates usually did anything he said - followed his lead. Ben had charm - personality- was wealthy with easy-going good looks. The friendship between Martin and Ben allows for much thought from its readers —they were so different. They both got something out of their unbalance - friendship .....but readers will think about them (and their wives) intensely. The author gets these characters up and under our skin. By the time I reached the end of this book - the 2nd ending of this story......( it wasn’t quite over where I thought.....making things more interesting)......I said to myself.....”Geeeee the title of this novel has DOUBLE MEANINGS”. I’d like to discuss this ending and how it fits with the entire story with others who have read this book..... so email if you’ve read it and want to talk about this novel more in depth. For those interested....in reading this English author ..... .....Expect to journey in on obsessiveness, anger, jealously, secrets, lies, unlikable characters, sex, manipulation, college life of drinking and drugs, family bribes, over-the top glamorous 40th B day party hosted by the super rich, insincere compliments, judging and evaluating of others, withheld commications, the tall blonde and striking dull ditzy wife, ( Serena), the twenty two year old who just out of university had no faith in her instincts and needed constant affirmation to prove she even existed, ( Lucy) > making for a dialogue book discussion marriage between she and Martin. Suffocating and psychologically haunting...... but sooooo addicting! I didn’t want it to end.....yet, I felt the creepy ending fit!Personally.... I love these type of stories! ........and a special treat was a visit to the island of Croatia. I had my little fantasy!
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    The Party by Elizabeth Day is a 2017 Fourth Estate publication. A Wickedly dark and satirical tale of obsession, misplaced loyalties, and class distinctions. This book drew me in right away and held me in enthralled suspense from start to finish. The story revolves around Martin and Lucy, a married couple invited to a birthday party for Martin’s best friend, Ben. It becomes immediately obvious that something sinister occurs at the party, something awful enough to capture the attention of the pol The Party by Elizabeth Day is a 2017 Fourth Estate publication. A Wickedly dark and satirical tale of obsession, misplaced loyalties, and class distinctions. This book drew me in right away and held me in enthralled suspense from start to finish. The story revolves around Martin and Lucy, a married couple invited to a birthday party for Martin’s best friend, Ben. It becomes immediately obvious that something sinister occurs at the party, something awful enough to capture the attention of the police, making it imperative to find meaning in every morsel of information doled out.The first hint that something is slightly off kilter is Lucy’s feeling that she and Martin have been slighted by the Fitzmaurice’s, who, despite having ample room in their enormous home, they have not invited them to stay overnight, forcing them to make a motel reservation at the last minute. This is where we see Martin begin making his first excuses for Ben, something he continues to do through the entire novel. The story is presented in four different angles: 1-Martin’s interview with the police. This interview is conducted a full three weeks after the party. Initially, this area interested me only because I was dying to know what went on at the party, and why Martin, and no one else, was being questioned. But, this interview becomes quite interesting as it goes along. 2-Martin’s flashbacks to his time at boarding school where his and Ben’s friendship developed. This portion of the story reveals the vast difference between the two men, Martin comes from a poor background and Ben from great wealth. The longevity of this seemingly unlikely friendship is certainly curious. 3- Lucy’s journals- which gives us a look at her marriage to Martin and the way she sees Ben and Serena, her personal disappointments and unwavering loyalty to Martin, even though he certainly tests her limits. Of course, the location from which these journal entries occur, only packs on more speculation. 3- The night of the party- What happened at that party? The tension at this party is nearly unbearable. There is a lot going on here. The characterizations are very well done, and the dialogue is razor sharp. While Martin is the main narrator of this story, be a little wary of his spin on things. He’s a bit of an odd duck, and I was never quite sure how honest he was being, or what angle he was working. Yet, it is clear Martin values his friendship with Ben a great deal, with a pathetic sort of hero worship or neediness, that he doesn’t seem to have nor require from his wife. While Lucy is far more perceptive than Martin, who is desperate to remain on good terms with Ben, she goes through the charade for her husband. But, don’t underestimate this woman. She may appear ordinary on the surface, but she’s got a little bite to her. I thought of all the characters in this little drama, she was the one I’d want on my team. The Fitzmaurice family is painted like many well-worn old money types, giving them an air of power and entitlement that appears unshakeable. Upon my first reflections, I thought the author may have gone a little overboard with her depictions of grand wealth, depending too heavily on stereotypes, coming dangerously close to turning the family into caricatures. But, on second thought, they may have been predictable cardboard figures most of the time, but, they played their roles chillingly well. The author touches on a gamut of topics including obsession, loyalty, power, and class distinctions. The story is darkly humorous at times, with sharp satirical tones.I thought the story was very clever and while not one hundred percent original, I still enjoyed the pointed sarcasm, the taut suspense, and that deliciously satisfying surprise twist at the end!
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    The Party by Elizabeth Day is a 2017 Fourth Estate publication. A Wickedly dark and satirical tale of obsession, misplaced loyalties, and class distinctions. This book drew me in right away and held me in enthralled suspense from start to finish. The story revolves around Martin and Lucy, a married couple invited to a birthday party for Martin’s best friend, Ben. It becomes immediately obvious that something sinister occurs at the party, something awful enough to capture the attention of the pol The Party by Elizabeth Day is a 2017 Fourth Estate publication. A Wickedly dark and satirical tale of obsession, misplaced loyalties, and class distinctions. This book drew me in right away and held me in enthralled suspense from start to finish. The story revolves around Martin and Lucy, a married couple invited to a birthday party for Martin’s best friend, Ben. It becomes immediately obvious that something sinister occurs at the party, something awful enough to capture the attention of the police, making it imperative to find meaning in every morsel of information doled out.The first hint that something is slightly off kilter is Lucy’s feeling that she and Martin have been slighted by the Fitzmaurice’s, who, despite having ample room in their enormous home, they have not invited them to stay overnight, forcing them to make a motel reservation at the last minute. This is where we see Martin begin making his first excuses for Ben, something he continues to do through the entire novel. The story is presented in four different angles: 1-Martin’s interview with the police. This interview is conducted a full three weeks after the party. Initially, this area interested me only because I was dying to know what went on at the party, and why Martin, and no one else, was being questioned. But, this interview becomes quite interesting as it goes along. 2-Martin’s flashbacks to his time at boarding school where his and Ben’s friendship developed. This portion of the story reveals the vast difference between the two men, Martin comes from a poor background and Ben from great wealth. The longevity of this seemingly unlikely friendship is certainly curious. 3- Lucy’s journals- which gives us a look at her marriage to Martin and the way she sees Ben and Serena, her personal disappointments and unwavering loyalty to Martin, even though he certainly tests her limits. Of course, the location from which these journal entries occur, only packs on more speculation. 3- The night of the party- What happened at that party? The tension at this party is nearly unbearable. There is a lot going on here. The characterizations are very well done, and the dialogue is razor sharp. While Martin is the main narrator of this story, be a little wary of his spin on things. He’s a bit of an odd duck, and I was never quite sure how honest he was being, or what angle he was working. Yet, it is clear Martin values his friendship with Brian a great deal, with a pathetic sort of hero worship or neediness, that he doesn’t seem to have nor require from his wife. While Lucy is far more perceptive than Martin, who is desperate to remain on good terms with Ben, she goes through the charade for her husband. But, don’t underestimate this woman. She may appear ordinary on the surface, but she’s got a little bite to her. I thought of all the characters in this little drama, she was the one I’d want on my team. The Fitzmaurice family is painted like many well-worn old money types, giving them an air of power and entitlement that appears unshakeable. Upon my first reflections, I thought the author may have gone a little overboard with her depictions of grand wealth, depending too heavily on stereotypes, coming dangerously close to turning the family into caricatures. But, on second thought, they may have been predictable cardboard figures most of the time, but, they played their roles chillingly well. The author touches on a gamut of topics including obsession, loyalty, power, and class distinctions. The story is darkly humorous at times, with sharp satirical tones.I thought the story was very clever and while not one hundred percent original, I still enjoyed the pointed sarcasm, the taut suspense, and that deliciously satisfying surprise twist at the end! 4 stars
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  • Candace
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come.
  • Dem
    January 1, 1970
    Elizabeth Day’s first novel, Scissors, Paper, Stone which I really enjoyed won a Betty Trask award So I was really looking forward to her latest book and when I saw it compared to The Dinner by Herman Koch I was really excited about the read.The Party starts at the end of a story that began in public school some 30 years previously when we meet Martin Gilmour an outsider who wins a scholarship to Burtonbury School, he doesn’t wear the right attire or speak with the right kind of accent but then Elizabeth Day’s first novel, Scissors, Paper, Stone which I really enjoyed won a Betty Trask award So I was really looking forward to her latest book and when I saw it compared to The Dinner by Herman Koch I was really excited about the read.The Party starts at the end of a story that began in public school some 30 years previously when we meet Martin Gilmour an outsider who wins a scholarship to Burtonbury School, he doesn’t wear the right attire or speak with the right kind of accent but then he meets the dazzling and wealthy Ben Fitzmaurice, and gets a taste of his exclusive world. Soon Martin is enjoying the high life at the Fitzmaurice family’s estate and becomes an extended family member. Ben's 40th birthday party full of glitz and glamour is the venue to be seen at but things take a nasty turn.I felt like I had read this novel before as all the characters seemed familiar and similar plot lines have been hashed out many times before in other novels so nothing really new here. The story is told in flashbacks to two different time periods and while this works well but the book just plods along and not a lot happens. I found myself becoming a little distracted and losing interest in the characters as they were a dislikeable bunch apart from Lucy. An ok read but not a book that I will remember in a year’s time.
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    A scrappy outsider accepted, precariously, by a privileged clique; the golden allure of wealth and exclusivity; a terrible and deadly secret. Give me variations on this theme from now until death and I will be perfectly happy. The Party is like The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Secret History and Brideshead Revisited got together and had a beautiful, twisted child. Our narrator, Martin Gilmour, is a bitchy sociopathic narcissist – so naturally, I adored him.At boarding school, Martin is an outcast. H A scrappy outsider accepted, precariously, by a privileged clique; the golden allure of wealth and exclusivity; a terrible and deadly secret. Give me variations on this theme from now until death and I will be perfectly happy. The Party is like The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Secret History and Brideshead Revisited got together and had a beautiful, twisted child. Our narrator, Martin Gilmour, is a bitchy sociopathic narcissist – so naturally, I adored him.At boarding school, Martin is an outcast. His background doesn't match up to the other boys', and he struggles to understand boundaries and codes of behaviour, which stops him from making his mark by way of charm or humour. Everything changes when he impresses golden boy Ben Fitzmaurice and the two quickly become best friends, so inseparable that Martin spends summers with Ben's family and, eventually, they head to the same Cambridge college together. 25 years later, Ben, now outrageously rich, is hosting a party. The guestlist is star-studded; there are even rumours the Prime Minister will attend. Martin's invited, but he's chagrined that he and his wife, Lucy, have had to make do with a Premier Inn hotel room rather than being asked to stay at the Fitzmaurices' sprawling manor. After all, he and Ben are like brothers. At least, that's how he sees it.Opening with a scene in which Martin is questioned by the police, The Party bounces between Martin's version of the history of his friendship with Ben, pages from Lucy's notebook, and, of course, the party itself. Along the way, questions are slowly answered – often in ways you wouldn't expect – and new ones are thrown up. What is the secret that has bound obsessed Martin and reluctant Ben together as 'best friends' for a quarter of a century? What lurks behind the facade of Martin and Lucy's marriage? And what happens to lead Martin to that police interview room?I love stories like this and I love protagonists like Martin, but I've been burned by bad pastiches many times, so it's exhilarating to find a novel in which plot and character are pulled off with such breathtaking skill. It's much harder than it looks to write this kind of narrator successfully: get it wrong and you're left with nothing but shallow nastiness. Here, as calculating and cruel as he may sometimes be, the reader is always on Martin's side. (Well, this reader was, anyway.) There's also Lucy. The unexpected nuance written into her chapters is its own kind of masterstroke. The narrative is so powerful that she could easily be sidelined – the dowdy woman who has to take a back seat to her husband's fixation with Ben, the butt of their friends' jokes, a person with no interior life of her own. Not so here. Her development took me by surprise, and after finishing the book, I find the thing I'm still thinking about the most is the complicated and really quite beautiful relationship between Martin and Lucy.I loved every page of The Party and I never wanted it to end. It is meticulously structured – tiny clues meted out so you're utterly gripped while the plot always stays a couple of strides ahead of you – and Martin and Lucy are both brilliantly realised characters. Read it on the beach, read it on a rainy day, read it on your way to work, whatever – just read it.I received an advance review copy of The Party from the publisher through NetGalley.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • Beverly
    January 1, 1970
    Bloody brilliant!
  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Martin Gilmour is being interviewed by the police when we first meet him. The thirty nine year old art critic had recently attended a party at the home of his best friend, Ben Fitzmaurice. The party was to celebrate Ben’s fortieth birthday, as well as being a house warming party for Ben, and his wife Serena’s, new home - the beautiful Tipworth Priory. This novel tells the story of what happened at the party from various viewpoints. There is the background of how Martin, the poor son of a dominee Martin Gilmour is being interviewed by the police when we first meet him. The thirty nine year old art critic had recently attended a party at the home of his best friend, Ben Fitzmaurice. The party was to celebrate Ben’s fortieth birthday, as well as being a house warming party for Ben, and his wife Serena’s, new home - the beautiful Tipworth Priory. This novel tells the story of what happened at the party from various viewpoints. There is the background of how Martin, the poor son of a domineering mother, managed to achieve a scholarship to a minor public school, where he meets Ben. Ben is from an aristocratic family and has everything that Martin yearns for – confidence, wealth and class. From the very beginning, Martin is smitten by Ben and does everything he can to insinuate himself into his life; both at school and later at Cambridge. As well as the relationship between Martin and Ben, we also hear of how Martin met his wife, Lucy. Although Lucy appears plain when presented next to the stunning Serena, for me she was the most interesting character in the novel. Struggling always as second place in Martin’s affections, after Ben, Lucy is not keen to attend the party at all and is unwilling to see the wealthy Fitzmaurice’s in the same rosy tinted glow as Martin seems to view them. Lastly, of course, gradually we learn what actually happened on the night of the party and of the consequences of those events. This is a book about the outward glamour of wealth and class, and the reality underneath the glossy surface. Indeed, much of the substance of this novel exists as undercurrents – with secrets, rumours, hidden emotions and loyalties. I have never read anything by Elizabeth Day before, but I really found this an interesting portrait of the desperate desire to belong, of the pain of unrequited love and of the complex relationships between the characters. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future and of exploring her past work.
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  • Tooter
    January 1, 1970
    Another 5 ⭐read. I'm on a roll! Thanks to Elyse for recommending this book. Another 5 ⭐️read. I'm on a roll! Thanks to Elyse for recommending this book.
  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    The word party has several meanings as the first page brings to one's attention. This is the party you'll want to check out. But then again what might you be a party to? And who will be the guilty parties? I loved Day's Paradise City, so when I saw this one available on Netgalley I didn't even read about it too much, immediately requesting it. And, awesomely enough, Day doesn't disappoint. The Party is a very different book (where Paradise City was optimistic, this book is extremely dark), but i The word party has several meanings as the first page brings to one's attention. This is the party you'll want to check out. But then again what might you be a party to? And who will be the guilty parties? I loved Day's Paradise City, so when I saw this one available on Netgalley I didn't even read about it too much, immediately requesting it. And, awesomely enough, Day doesn't disappoint. The Party is a very different book (where Paradise City was optimistic, this book is extremely dark), but it does employ some of the similar narrative techniques, mainly the shifting perspectives, of which Day is a master. No event is isolated, it is observed and changes accordingly. So when a violent bust up occurs at a posh party, we the readers are given a panopticon view of the occurrence and all that lead up to it, the slow simmer that eventually came to a boil, the inevitability of it, like a car crash in slow motion, terrible, impossible to look away. Actually maybe not the panopticon view per se, but there are at least two very differing perspectives, two spouses, two sides of a love triangle of sorts, as the narrative alternates between present and past done just right to sustain the maximum suspense. It has the pacing of a mystery thriller with the quality of a terrific psychological dramatic fiction. What might have been a mere tale of an unrequited love turns into an exploration of class differences, the impossible disparity between the social strata, the desperation it produces and the abyss at the end of that road. Martin is a fascinating protagonist (or is he an antagonist?), a sort of a sociopath and yet his flaws are all too recognizable, his desires all too relatable. Driven by the singular obsessive pursuit of social acceptance and an impossible love he's an embodiment of desperation, bound for a lifelong disappointment of never knowing a security and comfort that comes from being happy or at least content with yourself and your lot in life. There's some terrific meditation here on the deleterious power of money and moneyed as they coast the waves others get buried under. Day does a great job of exposing the charm and callousness and thoughtless cruelty of the upper classes, but also at times the secrets so well protected, the basic nature that lurks underneath the glamor. It's a very clever book and works on so many levels, particularly as far as social psychology goes. Sort of a modern spin on the timeless motif or several timeless motifs and a completely engaging read, read in one day. I've recently been told by my dearly beloved that I seem to be really into books with likeable characters, well, here's the proof of my range. This book doesn't have a particularly likeable cast by any means (fascinating and complicated and interesting as they are) and I loved it. Enthusiastically recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! What a fantastic story! This is the story of Martin and his best friend and school chum Ben. We have alternating chapters between Martin & Ben's school days, the night of The Party, Lucy (Martin's wife) journal entries, and Martin being questioned at the police dept. You know that something terrible has happened at the party but Elizabeth Day slowly lays out the puzzle pieces for you to follow and follow you will. I couldn't stop turning the pages. I won't deny that Martin is a bit of a Wow! What a fantastic story! This is the story of Martin and his best friend and school chum Ben. We have alternating chapters between Martin & Ben's school days, the night of The Party, Lucy (Martin's wife) journal entries, and Martin being questioned at the police dept. You know that something terrible has happened at the party but Elizabeth Day slowly lays out the puzzle pieces for you to follow and follow you will. I couldn't stop turning the pages. I won't deny that Martin is a bit of a despicable character but I also felt sorry for him in some respects. (view spoiler)[He truly believes that Ben is the most magnificent person he's ever met and to find out that it's only been a friendship of convenience has to be a terrible realization. It's quite obvious to anyone that Martin is gay and in love with Ben. Martin is forever being ridiculed by his peers for being Ben's "Little Shadow" and he's well aware of all the inside jokes being made at his expense. Because of this he never really comes out and actually ends up marrying Lucy. It's sad to think that anyone would be made to feel this way just because of who they are and yet it happens all the time. (hide spoiler)]Most of the characters here are unlikable. Except Lucy. She really grew on me and her blunt comments and witticisms would give me a chuckle. The ending of her story in this did truly make me happy because I liked her so much. As far as the ending to Martin and Ben's story line I found it abrupt and it leaves you to wonder what actually happened. I can't help but to wish there was another chapter to explain but I refuse to dock a star because this was so freaking good, so 5 stars it is even if I was a bit unsatisfied with the ending.
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  • LeeAnne
    January 1, 1970
    Descriptive similes and metaphors, but slow and flat. Warning: There are two very graphic, gratuitous descriptions of animal cruelty in this book. I jumped past both of them. Critics are raving about this book, comparing this to the brilliant classic, The Talented Mr. Ripley. Yes, they have some similar themes: Popularity vs Outcast, Old money vs disadvantaged poor, privilege, unrequited love, identity, and sociopaths. Both books are dark, psychological suspense novels. But the writing here is n Descriptive similes and metaphors, but slow and flat. Warning: There are two very graphic, gratuitous descriptions of animal cruelty in this book. I jumped past both of them. Critics are raving about this book, comparing this to the brilliant classic, The Talented Mr. Ripley. Yes, they have some similar themes: Popularity vs Outcast, Old money vs disadvantaged poor, privilege, unrequited love, identity, and sociopaths. Both books are dark, psychological suspense novels. But the writing here is not on the same level as Patricia Highsmith's book. Even though "The Party" is a character study, the characters remain hollow and flat. The biggest difference for me was how Patricia Highsmith was able to make Ripley into a sympathetic character, to the point that readers find themselves rooting for him. I felt no such sympathy for any of the characters in this book, just the opposite. The writing has some nice metaphors but the detailed descriptions of violence, especially against helpless animals, felt exploitive.
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  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    This book begins with the police interrogation of 39-year-old Martin. Apparently there has been some violent incident at the 40th birthday party of Martin's old school friend Ben who comes from a wealthy family. Martin is married to Lucy, but his primary relationship is with Ben. It's a relationship comprised of longing and envy on Martin's part, and camaraderie and disdain on Ben's part. The relationships of Martin/Ben and Martin/Lucy are told in lengthy flashbacks from the points of view of Ma This book begins with the police interrogation of 39-year-old Martin. Apparently there has been some violent incident at the 40th birthday party of Martin's old school friend Ben who comes from a wealthy family. Martin is married to Lucy, but his primary relationship is with Ben. It's a relationship comprised of longing and envy on Martin's part, and camaraderie and disdain on Ben's part. The relationships of Martin/Ben and Martin/Lucy are told in lengthy flashbacks from the points of view of Martin and Lucy. Lucy just seemed so dull. I never really understood why she pursued Martin and was so devoted to him despite his lack of charm or effort in her direction. She somehow didn't acknowledge that Martin was just not that into her. We never get to hear the point of view of Ben and I would like to have heard how Ben really felt about having Martin (his little shadow) clinging to him all those years.I wish that the book had focused more on the party itself. There were some interesting and snarky interactions among the guests. It wasn't until the last third of the book that we find out about a significant event in the Martin/Ben saga that colored their relationship and led to the party incident. Up until that time, I found the flashbacks redundant and boring. The actual violent incident was kind of a let down. There's some attempt to make the upper classes the bad guy, but really no one comes off looking good here. I think the author was striving for dark and clever in this book but didn't really achieve that goal. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Olive (abookolive)
    January 1, 1970
    See my ~tipsy~ review on booktube: https://youtu.be/H5QHeIyx3_0
  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/It begins with a door that wouldn’t open at the Tipworth Premier Inn.No one wants to be anyone’s shadow, but Martin’s life has been deeply entwined with best friend Ben’s since childhood. Money along with inborn charisma has made Ben’s life a blessing where for Martin, everything is hard won. A shared past, and Martin’s fierce loyalty beyond brotherhood has kept the friendship thriving. The readers are witness to a seduction into a sort of surro via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/It begins with a door that wouldn’t open at the Tipworth Premier Inn.No one wants to be anyone’s shadow, but Martin’s life has been deeply entwined with best friend Ben’s since childhood. Money along with inborn charisma has made Ben’s life a blessing where for Martin, everything is hard won. A shared past, and Martin’s fierce loyalty beyond brotherhood has kept the friendship thriving. The readers are witness to a seduction into a sort of surrogate family, to Martin shedding his humble origins. The question is, who is truly being seduced? Martin and Ben’s friendship has so much mileage, so why is it that for Ben’s 40th birthday bash among the upper class Martin and his wife Lucy are left feeling shunned? Lucy is the ever devoted, loving wife- protective, if not a little resentful of his love for Ben. Where Ben’s wife Serena has a natural glamour and grace, Lucy is more messy, common and if she feels like an outsider beside the wealthy couple, she will suffer it for the sake of her husband Martin, even if his love for best friend Ben seems unequal. Even if Serena’s snobbery is exhaustively ridiculous.Something disturbing takes place the night of the party, and all we know is that Martin is being questioned by police and Lucy is facing a an uncomfortable dissection of her relationship with Martin. Serena and Ben’s future too is hanging in the air. The past smells of rot, from cold mothers, to untouchable wealth and the strangeness of some children. There are the used and discarded, those who benefit and the leverage we hold over others. This is love at it’s most destructive, excessive, desperate, and pathological. Why do some of us feed off scraps, and remain loyal pets- kicked into submission and always wagging our tail for more?Lucy is the most misunderstood character of the novel among the group. Seen as tepid, helpless, a bit silly- she in fact is far more perceptive than any suffering wife wants to be. Witness to Martin emulating his best friend- down to his shoes, she isn’t so much the foolish bore Martin believes. The happenstance of birth builds or destroys, even those who try to climb above their place can’t do so without carnage. Just what happens when you have sacrificed all of your being for another, what do you do when you are stripped of the comfort you have clung to? Maybe in the end, you bide your time…A disturbing tale indeed! Perfect for anyone who likes psychological damage, and strange characters.Publication Date: August 15, 2017Little, Brown and Company
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Personally I am not a fan of books that draw out the reveal of an incident that isn't particularly serious or life threatening.The characters in the book were a unique blend and being set around the upper class of British society was.... good enough. However I couldn't work out if the author was writing from a place of anger or envy as the main character himself was never quite clear on the point.Martin - the protagonist was interesting in his slightly creepy devotion, but it would have been nic Personally I am not a fan of books that draw out the reveal of an incident that isn't particularly serious or life threatening.The characters in the book were a unique blend and being set around the upper class of British society was.... good enough. However I couldn't work out if the author was writing from a place of anger or envy as the main character himself was never quite clear on the point.Martin - the protagonist was interesting in his slightly creepy devotion, but it would have been nice to get a clear sense of where his motives where coming from. Hints were made one way but reveals went another, and ultimately I couldn't make up my mind about him.Lucy - Martin's wife, is who I actually would have been more interested in hearing from. We do get her perspective but she seemed the more interesting character, and the one it would have been easier to sympathise with.I got to the end and thought - Oh. Is that is. - and yet I wasn't surprised in my feeling at all.
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  • Casey Frank
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 Stars rounded upThere were more than a few times that I wanted to stop reading this book, relegate it to my DNF list, and move on, but I often feel a need to finish books that I've received thanks to NetGalley and each book's publisher. There is nothing to like about any of the characters in this book, and while most are not meant to be likable people, the broad strokes of poor behavior were enough to make most of them boring as well. It's teased out early on in the story that someone from t 2.5 Stars rounded upThere were more than a few times that I wanted to stop reading this book, relegate it to my DNF list, and move on, but I often feel a need to finish books that I've received thanks to NetGalley and each book's publisher. There is nothing to like about any of the characters in this book, and while most are not meant to be likable people, the broad strokes of poor behavior were enough to make most of them boring as well. It's teased out early on in the story that someone from the party, Ben's 40th birthday party, is either dead or seriously injured and the police want to know how that came to happen. This hint of mystery did help keep me reading, but what a slog. Martin is full of unending jealous disdain for everything and everyone, especially those whom he so desperately wants to be, and its hinted that maybe he's a sociopath. His own mother stands by her assertion that there's always been something wrong with him. Mild spoiler, and I say mild because hints are introduced fairly early on-Martin's inability to accept that he's gay, and his unrequited love for Ben is a frustrating catalyst for me. All these cruel people who would seemingly make Martin's life worse for daring to be who he really is feels so grossly sad. I don't enjoy spending time with characters who kill animals, who hate the people who have things they don't, who get so mired down in their own self-loathing that they can't find a way to live a real life. It's just not for me.
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  • Jill Meyer
    January 1, 1970
    As a reader of fiction, does it bother you to read a book with unpleasant characters? Characters who verge on the edge of caricature? In British author Elizabeth Day's novel, "The Party", her four main characters, Martin, Ben, Lucy, and Serena, are all people we've seen before. Martin is the poor, shy boy in love with the charismatic rich boy, Ben, and has been his "Little Shadow" since boarding school, through Cambridge, and into London society. Serena is Ben's blonde, vacant wife, while Lucy i As a reader of fiction, does it bother you to read a book with unpleasant characters? Characters who verge on the edge of caricature? In British author Elizabeth Day's novel, "The Party", her four main characters, Martin, Ben, Lucy, and Serena, are all people we've seen before. Martin is the poor, shy boy in love with the charismatic rich boy, Ben, and has been his "Little Shadow" since boarding school, through Cambridge, and into London society. Serena is Ben's blonde, vacant wife, while Lucy is Martin's wife, a very put-upon-woman who knows she's not first in her husband's life or heart. The first three are repulsive in ways most readers are familiar with, but the fourth, Lucy, does have some redeeming features. Here's the thing, though. Day's characters might be repugnant, but they are immersed in a plot that's actually quite interesting. We see how Martin has insinuated himself since the age of 10 or so into Ben Fitzmaurice's life and family, wanting desperately to be Ben's lover/friend. Ben, of course, recognises this early in the game and takes advantage of Martin's feelings. Is Martin in such infatuation that he cannot recognise Ben's treatment of him, and eventually Lucy, for what it is? Possibly, but Martin also accepts the good parts that come along with Ben's attention.I don't mind novels with awful characters as long as the plots are interesting. And Day's relatively simple plot of love, death, revenge, supplication, and toadying is quite well-written.This is a novel which tells a story. Whether you like those who people the story is another thing.
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    Martin Gilmour, a character in this tale is a writer, a critic of sorts, had some small success and reputation with a work ‘Art: Who Gives a F***?’Almost to the unknowing eye he seemed normal but within he has an obsession he has spent his youth trying to reinvent himself and he finds one soul who’s popular but one that he can never be.The tale, psychologically eery and unsettling at times, takes you through in first person narrative in his minds eye. If there was one scene that would turn you o Martin Gilmour, a character in this tale is a writer, a critic of sorts, had some small success and reputation with a work ‘Art: Who Gives a F***?’Almost to the unknowing eye he seemed normal but within he has an obsession he has spent his youth trying to reinvent himself and he finds one soul who’s popular but one that he can never be.The tale, psychologically eery and unsettling at times, takes you through in first person narrative in his minds eye. If there was one scene that would turn you off and create a distance from you and this character, that may define his behaviour for the future, it would be with a small bird at school.The unraveling to the party years before down to the day before proved to be compelling page turning reading.There is unreliable narrating in these first person narratives from Martin and Lucy, the one he marries. Two hearts that have some unspeakables merge to something far more treacherous, the Party.Obsessions, being someone he can’t be, at the heart of the behaviour, the art of war is taken upon within the character in this tale.Talented Mr Ripley crossed paths with Jay Gatsby and Norman bates.The story comes to light, the real truth unraveling with similar techniques like that in HBO’s True Detective and Showtime’s The affair on tv.The author has done a great job in hooking the read in a lucid narrative psychologically unraveling the labyrinth that lead to The Party incident.http://more2read.com/review/party-elizabeth-day/
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    I adore a good flawed character and was drawn in from the first page of this novel! Told alternately from Martin and his wife, Lucy's perspectives, we see a couple doomed from the beginning because of Martin's personality flaws and his obsession with his wealthy friend, Ben. As we bounce back and forth from Ben's 40th birthday party to Martin and Ben's school days, we soon realize there is nothing right about any of these relationships. Secrets, lies, family dynamics, and control issues dominate I adore a good flawed character and was drawn in from the first page of this novel! Told alternately from Martin and his wife, Lucy's perspectives, we see a couple doomed from the beginning because of Martin's personality flaws and his obsession with his wealthy friend, Ben. As we bounce back and forth from Ben's 40th birthday party to Martin and Ben's school days, we soon realize there is nothing right about any of these relationships. Secrets, lies, family dynamics, and control issues dominate everything involved in this devious plot. Even the final page left me breathless. This is my kind of thriller!
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  • Alice Caryer
    January 1, 1970
    I read this very quickly and it was mildly enjoyable but I found myself expecting a twist or something *big* to happen and it never did. I also hated all the characters, which I assume was intentional on the author's behalf but it meant I just didn't care about the ending (and the ending was pretty unsatisfactory anyway).
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  • Jenks
    January 1, 1970
    When I read the reviews for this I wonder if I was reading the same novel as everyone else ? I mean what happened ? I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone so I am purposely keeping the review vague in terms of plot details. But I felt like what was the point I read it as quick as poss to get it over with and move on to an interesting book. The plot just flounders for a few hundred pages and came to a halt. Boring uninteresting characters . I honestly can’t recommend this book and if I’m ask a When I read the reviews for this I wonder if I was reading the same novel as everyone else ? I mean what happened ? I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone so I am purposely keeping the review vague in terms of plot details. But I felt like what was the point I read it as quick as poss to get it over with and move on to an interesting book. The plot just flounders for a few hundred pages and came to a halt. Boring uninteresting characters . I honestly can’t recommend this book and if I’m ask as part of my work I will be advising that your turning pages with no interest . Sorry
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  • Chloe Fowler
    January 1, 1970
    Was this pastiche? Or was it just bad? Either way, I'm not bothered as what it was, frankly, was a waste of time. I didn't like the thinly veiled references to real people (just change a letter in the name, they'll never know!). I didn't like the whole closet gay turns out to be snidey horrible man thing. I didn't like the pointless 'suspense' plot that was neither deft nor actually suspenseful. Come to think of it, I didn't like anything. Except finishing it.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    Found this extremely engrossing until the end. Had elements of Brides Head Revisited and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Even though the narrator is unlikeable, it's hard not to get caught up in his story.
  • Ian Brydon
    January 1, 1970
    lizabeth Day has scored a triumph with her latest novel. Martin Gilmour is a successful journalist and art critic, whose recent analysis of modern art has become a best seller. As the book opens he and his wife, Lucy, are arriving at a local hotel, prior to attending the fortieth birthday part of Martin’s childhood friend Ben. Ben is incredibly wealthy, and the party will prove to be a major extravaganza, with many celebrities among the guests, and rumours abounding that the Prime Minister himse lizabeth Day has scored a triumph with her latest novel. Martin Gilmour is a successful journalist and art critic, whose recent analysis of modern art has become a best seller. As the book opens he and his wife, Lucy, are arriving at a local hotel, prior to attending the fortieth birthday part of Martin’s childhood friend Ben. Ben is incredibly wealthy, and the party will prove to be a major extravaganza, with many celebrities among the guests, and rumours abounding that the Prime Minister himself might even attend. It soon becomes evident that something significant happened at the party, though it is some time before we learn what the incident was.The narrative moves between present day interviews at a local police station, reminiscences of Martin’s and Ben’s time at school and university, and entries from the journal kept by one of the characters during their stay at a private clinic. We learn that Ben comes from an immensely wealthy and ennobled family, and that his life has been very easy, littered with entitlement and privilege. Martin’s background is very different. He had been raised by a single mother, his father having died a few months before Martin’s birth. His mother was clearly a forceful but distant person, and there was little emotional succour available during Martin’s upbringing. Throughout his childhood and early adolescence Martin was a loner, until he was sent to Burtonbury, a minor public school to which he had won a full scholarship. This was where he encountered ben, and his outlook on life changed.The plot moves rapidly as we learn more about Martin’s psychological make-up, illuminated by a few key episodes from his early years. The descriptions of the interactions between the boys at the school are particularly well drawn, as are the developing relationships between Martin and Lucy and Martin and Ben. It is obvious to everyone (with the sole exception of Martin) that Ben has moved on. His interest in Martin’s views and life are superficial at best, though Martin fails, or at least refuses, to acknowledge this. The consequential tension between Lucy and Serena, Ben’s trophy wife, is especially powerful.As with her previous novel, Paradise City, Day manages the multi-narrative form very adeptly. The emerging storylines keep pace with each other in a delicate balance, enhancing the build-up as the book moves towards its denouement. On top of all that, Day has a beautiful prose style, and a fine ear for dialogue, and the overall impact is quite dizzying.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    If you have read The Dinner, by Herman Koch, chances are you already know the overall makeup of this novel. Don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth Day’s writing was impeccable, beautiful, and eloquent. However, I couldn’t get past the deja vu and the feeling that I had already read this story, just with different age groups and circumstances. There are several themes and issues in this novel including the power of family money, entitlement, struggling with sexual identity, mental illness, and so on. Very If you have read The Dinner, by Herman Koch, chances are you already know the overall makeup of this novel. Don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth Day’s writing was impeccable, beautiful, and eloquent. However, I couldn’t get past the deja vu and the feeling that I had already read this story, just with different age groups and circumstances. There are several themes and issues in this novel including the power of family money, entitlement, struggling with sexual identity, mental illness, and so on. Very early in the novel, it is clear that there is something a little off about Martin. Although intelligent and creative, there’s this inner obsession that devours him, keeping him from leading a normal, healthy life. The time periods flip-flop throughout the novel between Martin and Ben growing into adulthood, the party, and after the party. During these shifts between time, it becomes evident that all of the involved parties are completely insane. Martin, his wife Lucy, Ben, his wife Serena, Ben’s family, and so on. There is a complete disconnect between these characters and any possible resemblance of moral compass. The plot and character development were satisfyingly complex, however, I struggled to connect, like, or even tolerate any of the characters in this novel. Each and every character was either self-absorbed, trying too hard to be different, or putting on a show of who they should be, rather than, who they really were. This was truly the most pretentious gathering of characters that I have ever seen, and I’m not sure it added to the novel in any way. This is another novel that is difficult to adequately review without spoilers, but I will leave you with these thoughts. The writing, once again, is impeccable. However, given that I was unable to connect with any of the characters and there were times the story seemed to drag, I can’t, in good faith, recommend this novel. Although, if by chance you are a fan of Herman Koch’s The Dinner, this novel will completely float your boat.**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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  • Joodith
    January 1, 1970
    I was hooked from the start: Martin Gilmour is being interviewed by the police about events which took place at his friend Ben's birthday party. Why do the police want to talk to him? Is he a perpetrator, a victim, or a witness? Martin is the only son of a cold, domineering mother, so he is delighted to win a scholarship to the prestigious boarding school Burtonbury. It's here that he meets and becomes besotted with Ben Fitzmaurice. Ben, whose parents are Lord and Lady Fitzmaurice, is charming a I was hooked from the start: Martin Gilmour is being interviewed by the police about events which took place at his friend Ben's birthday party. Why do the police want to talk to him? Is he a perpetrator, a victim, or a witness? Martin is the only son of a cold, domineering mother, so he is delighted to win a scholarship to the prestigious boarding school Burtonbury. It's here that he meets and becomes besotted with Ben Fitzmaurice. Ben, whose parents are Lord and Lady Fitzmaurice, is charming and charismatic, witty and privileged, with that sense of entitlement that comes with his background. The two boys become friends, but Martin's obsession is noticed and ridiculed by Ben's other friends, and although Martin is jealous of those friends he is also fiercely loyal to Ben. It is a loyalty which will prove most useful in later years.After leaving Cambridge University, and settling into successful careers, they each marry; Ben marries classy, beautiful-but-bitchy Serena, whilst Martin marries plain-but-loyal Lucy. The couples meet every so often, but it is at Ben's 40th birthday/house warming party, that things unravel. It's a huge gathering of the rich and famous, the money-can-buy-anything crowd where the elite, the establishment and the entitled rub shoulders with each other whilst scoffing ridiculous morsels of food, washed down with bucket loads of booze.The four main characters in this novel are not particularly pleasant people, but that makes for a much more interesting read. Told from Martin's and Lucy's points of view, and hopping back and forth between different timelines it could have been quite confusing, but the author keeps everything moving along at a good pace, in this dark tale of obsession, betrayal and deceit within the Establishment.Thanks to Amazon for an ARC
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  • Mandy
    January 1, 1970
    The real problem with this novel of obsession, friendship, power and privilege is that it’s all been done before, and it all felt very derivative. It’s not badly written – although there are rather too many clichés for my liking – and it’s well-paced, even if the framing device feels hackneyed, but it adds very little to the rather banal trope of a poor but clever misfit who desperately wants to fit in with the rich and privileged, and falls in love with the rather shallow object of his desire, The real problem with this novel of obsession, friendship, power and privilege is that it’s all been done before, and it all felt very derivative. It’s not badly written – although there are rather too many clichés for my liking – and it’s well-paced, even if the framing device feels hackneyed, but it adds very little to the rather banal trope of a poor but clever misfit who desperately wants to fit in with the rich and privileged, and falls in love with the rather shallow object of his desire, a wealthy “toff” who seems to have it all. As a satire of the rich and privileged it’s heavy-handed. The set piece party of the title is peopled with characters who are all stereotypes to a greater or lesser degree and who add nothing to the storyline. The jovial Prime Minister is all too obvious. There’s little that’s original here, but having said that I found it readable and reasonably compelling and certainly wanted to find out how it all panned out. Although I didn’t really care.
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  • Sean
    January 1, 1970
    As subtle as a car wreck, this novel which purports to be about social class in Britain builds to a climax and then fizzles. The male characters are thin cut-outs, and the male protagonist is a closeted gay man who is a stereotypical type I associate with fiction of a generation ago. The cut-glass characters of this novel reflect more on the author than the people or social class she is trying to portray. I have not read a novel which has as little understanding of the human condition as this on As subtle as a car wreck, this novel which purports to be about social class in Britain builds to a climax and then fizzles. The male characters are thin cut-outs, and the male protagonist is a closeted gay man who is a stereotypical type I associate with fiction of a generation ago. The cut-glass characters of this novel reflect more on the author than the people or social class she is trying to portray. I have not read a novel which has as little understanding of the human condition as this one in a long time.
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  • Brandi
    January 1, 1970
    I tried so hard to like this book but I just couldn't find anything to like. The main character Martin is weird and demented, his wife Lucy blends right in with his personality and Ben, Martin's crush is a self obsessed rich boy who doesnt have any real problems. I couldn't connect or even form an idea of how any of the characters might have looked and the story line was uneventful. I really hate this was what I won off of Goodreads :(
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