Literary The Party by Elizabeth Day
#1  sun surfer 10-15-2019, 05:07 AM
'A taut psychological tale of obsession and betrayal set over the course of a dinner party.

Ben, who hails from old money, and Martin, who grew up poor but is slowly carving out a successful career as an art critic, have been inseparable since childhood. Ben's wife Serena likes to jokingly refer to Martin as Ben's dutiful Little Shadow.

Lucy is a devoted wife to Martin, even as she knows she'll always be second best to his sacred friendship. When Ben throws a lavish 40th birthday party as his new palatial country home, Martin and Lucy attend, mixing with the very upper echelons of London society.

But why, the next morning, is Martin in a police station being interviewed about the events of last night? Why is Lucy being forced to answer questions about her husband and his past? What exactly happened at the party? And what has bound these two very different men together for so many years?

A cleverly built tour of intrigue, THE PARTY reads like a novelistic board game of Clue, taking us through the various half-truths and lies its characters weave, as the past and present collide in a way that its protagonists could never have anticipated.'


There are two phases of discussion. The first begins immediately and may contain conversations about anything pre-completion of the selection including reading progress, section thoughts, outside info, etc. The second begins on the 1st and also includes anything post-completion. These are recommended to help us discuss things in a similar timeframe but anyone can discuss any part or aspect at any time.

This is the MR Literary Club selection for October 2019, and is our 101st selection. Everyone is welcome so feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time; the more the merrier!

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#2  Bookworm_Girl 10-20-2019, 04:48 PM
I had to wait for my library hold to come through and just started the book this weekend. So far it is engaging my curiosity. Lots of people hiding lots of secrets and unreliable character narrations making it difficult to detect real truths. I'm sure there will be plenty of twists to come.

#3  gmw 10-21-2019, 09:33 PM
FYI Kobo AU have this on special at the moment.

#4  sun surfer 10-30-2019, 10:51 AM
That's a great deal. Thanks for linking, gmw.

I'm over a quarter in right now. It starts out almost over-the-top and surface, but then begins delving more into the nuances of the characters. And I agree, Bookworm_Girl, lots of secrets and lies (like the Mike Leigh film of that name in deceptiveness, if not anything else).

#5  Bookworm_Girl 10-30-2019, 09:42 PM
I finished the book. Has anyone else? I’ve been silent to avoid revealing spoilers. I thought it started to lag in the middle (somewhat repetitious) and then picked up again.

#6  sun surfer 10-30-2019, 10:04 PM
I haven’t (obviously, considering my last post, heh) though I don’t mind if the rest of you want to discuss spoilers now. I have more free time the rest of this week than normal so with luck I’ll finish soon. Now that we’re trying the 1st as sort of the mild ‘finish’ date I’m trying to get done closer to then.

#7  Bookworm_Girl 10-31-2019, 01:53 AM
I'm ready to discuss. We can use spoiler tags.

#8  AnotherCat 10-31-2019, 03:21 PM
I am just getting going after spending some time on some biographies.

But no need to use spoiler tags, etc. Knowing others views about the book, the story line and the outcome beforehand just makes the reading less complicated for me; a lazy mind here you see .

#9  sun surfer 11-02-2019, 11:36 AM
I'm closing in on around the 60% mark and I have a good amount of free time this weekend.

I still sometimes get a feeling as if the story is almost too colourful but I'm enjoying it nevertheless. I do feel once the story went to the boarding school days that the descriptions became more confident.

One issue I may have - and this depends on how the rest of the story and revelations play out - is Martin's sexuality. I feel, at least in the beginning, that it's handled in a somewhat outdated and hushed manner that I'm not sure if I buy for such a person in 2015 England. This will depend on what I find out about Martin and Lucy through the rest of the book, but in today's society I just have a hard time buying that such a young smart woman as Lucy would blindly believe Martin to be straight until the sudden epiphany she has that he loved Ben, or that there would have been no gossip or wondering around the office about his preferred type of partner. This also extends to Martin's boarding school- that he was teased, but not for possibly being gay despite being described as effeminate, doesn't seem realistic. Just, sexuality in general being so undiscussed at any of these locations seems odd.

However, I do wonder about some aspects of the narration being unreliable or not fully disclosed so I'm saving judgment until the end. This is especially in regard to Martin, who's not a normal chap regardless of sexuality, although Lucy being the more 'normal' one makes me wonder what else she may be hiding.

One funny thing to me so far is how little of the party has been seen, lol. I was expecting the book to be a tightly narrated account of one night but it's turned out to be mostly flashbacks to prior events all leading up to it, and the party is only now getting started.

Whoever compared this to The Talented Mr. Ripley and Brideshead Revisited were spot on. The story is different but it's almost like Day took direct inspiration from both those to create this, especially Ripley.

As for guesses as to what may be hidden, my first is regarding Lucy's miscarriage. I suspect it wasn't accidental. Either that Martin secretly gave her something to induce a miscarriage, or that she decided to induce one herself to keep Martin.

Finally, I really didn't think of this until well into the book, but (at the risk of giving away my age) I turned 40 in October and I can't believe I didn't realise sooner the coincidence in that I'm reading a book about a 40th birthday party.

#10  sun surfer 11-02-2019, 05:51 PM
Quote sun surfer
Whoever compared this to The Talented Mr. Ripley and Brideshead Revisited were spot on. The story is different but it's almost like Day took direct inspiration from both those to create this, especially Ripley.
One more thing, I forgot to mention that I also feel vibes of Gone Girl here. I'm not sure if there'll be any revelation like the one in that novel (which I won't mention what it is exactly to not spoil anyone), but certainly the narration of a mystery going back and forth between a married couple, and centred heavily on their marriage, is similar.

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