By Elizabeth Day
Martin Gilmour and Ben Fitzmaurice have been best friends for 25 years, since their days together at Burtonbury School. They are an unlikely pair: the scholarship boy with the wrong accent and clothes, and the dazzlingly popular wealthy young aristocrat. But Martin knows no one else can understand the bond they share – and no one else could have kept Ben’s secret for over two decades.
At Ben’s 40th birthday party, the cream of the British establishment gathers in a haze of champagne, drugs and glamour. amid the politicians, celebrities, the old money and the newly rich, Martin once again feels that pang of not quite belonging. His wife Lucy has her reservations too. There is something quite unnerving in the air. But Ben wouldn’t do anything to damage their friendship. Would he?
An unusual psychological thriller, I’m usually not really a fan of this kind of genre but I really loved how Elizabeth Day unfolded this story of betrayal and secrets. It was quite a slow burner but for good reasons, the way it was written was almost like an onion, layer by layer there was something more and that energy of giving you just pieces at a time with a lot of chapters ending on mini cliff hangers kept me hooked throughout the entire novel.
There were four perspectives through out the novel, it wasn’t just set at the party which was great as this meant you got back stories and perspectives from other characters making the novel even more gripping. The four perspectives where:
1. Martin in a police interview room being held because something happened at the party and the police want to know if he was involved. What did he do?
2. The Party, where Martin and his wife Lucy felt out of place and awkward, knowing they were invited because of another agenda.
3. Martin’s perspective of his and Ben’s friendship, he flashes back to childhood memories, how they met, school memories and what happened on the night that has been kept secret for so long.
4. Lucy’s notebook, her thoughts about Ben and her husband’s relationship and her own relationship with her husband who has been so cold, distant and odd for as long as she can remember.
The book revolves around Martin and Ben’s friendship.They are totally opposite from one another and have nothing in common. Ben a wealthy, cheeky, sporty, charming and popular man and Martin an oddball, and outsider who doesn’t really know who he is himself and tries hard to be someone he isn’t. You can tell Martin has an obsession with Ben, he tries to be on his level so he can create a friendship that realistically would probably never happened without Martin’s force. I never felt that Ben had much regard or love towards Martin it was all very one sided especially when something happens, Ben is almost stuck with Martin, a very false friendship indeed.
Other than Martin and Ben’s relationship we also hear about Martin and Lucy’s. How they ended up together, how Lucy always felt second best to her husbands friendship with Ben, she could see how Martin would change in front of the Fitzmaurice family, she knew he wasn’t being himself, a fake and a phoney and she thought how sad it was her husband had to be like this just to win affections from a “friend”. I really liked Lucy’s perspective on the whole situation and out of everyone in the novel I felt so sorry for her, though really she was the same as her husband. As Martin tried to force his friendship with Ben and pretended to be someone he wasn’t, Lucy knew Martin’s affections for her were not on the same scale as hers and she continued their relationship for a long time pretending she didn’t want things like children, sex, affection, just because she felt she felt she loved Martin so much.
This novel was not only about social anxieties of wanting to be liked or loved but also about money, with wealth you can show off the glamorous house, beautiful wife, have big parties full of celebrities you can charm people and have a good time, but you can also gloss over your past, hide secrets, there is a lot of callousness behind the glamour which isn’t unveiled until almost the end of the novel. A tale of dark secrets and obsession, betrayal, lies and deceit, in my opinion a very good psychological thriller.
I have never read anything by Elizabeth Day before, I would definitely pick up more of her books in the future, I loved how she told this quite simple story with such complexity and depth, the relationships between each character were fascinating and that sense of not belonging, social anxiety and feeling left out was really heightened by the way the novel was written.
The Party is a novel I received in the April Reading in Heels subscription box in. Other than the novel I also got a delicious mallow and marsh bar, Optiat vegan face masks, Lola’s Apothecary camomile tea and Miller Harris perfumes. For £12 a month you can’t go wrong, I have loved every month of goodies so far.
Have you read The Party? Or anything else by Elizabeth Day? What did you think of the novel and Day’s writing style? Get in touch I would love to know. Thanks for reading. Katie x