3 Sentence Summary
“The Guest List” is a mystery novel by Lucy Foley that was chosen as one of Reese Witherspoon’s book club picks in June 2020. Set on a small island off the coast of West Ireland, the book follows the guests gathered for a destination wedding. Their shared histories and secrets collide when a body is found during a storm. The book is a thrilling whodunit that keeps readers guessing until the end.
Summary Read Time: Less than 4 minutes
Actual Book Length: 319
First Published in: 2020
Below is the detailed yet quick summary of the book The Guest List:
Part 1 – A Thrilling Destination Wedding on a West Irish Island
The Guest List by Lucy Foley is a novel set on an island off the coast of West Ireland, where Julia “Jules” Keegan and Will Slater are getting married at the Folly. The night before the wedding, Jules finds an anonymous note telling her not to marry Will. During the wedding, a storm brews and the lights go out. When they turn back on, there’s a scream and a body is found.
The book jumps back and forth between the present and events leading up to the wedding. Jules runs a successful online magazine, and Will is a TV show host. On Will’s side, Johnno is the best man, and the four ushers are four guys they went to boarding school with. Three weeks ago, Jules found an anonymous note telling her not to marry Will. On the bride’s side, Charlie is Jules’s best friend, and Olivia is Julia’s younger half-sister who recently broke up with her ex-boyfriend and started dating an older man named “Steven”.
During the wedding rehearsal dinner, there’s talk of something that happened during the “stag” (bachelor party) to Charlie, but the guys won’t say what. They also reminisce about a game called Survival that Will’s show was based on. The morning of the wedding, Johnno discovers that Will’s father thinks he stole exam papers that Will had actually stolen. Later, Johnno talks to Piers, Will’s producer, who reveals that they had wanted both of them for the show, but Will told them Johnno wasn’t interested.
During the wedding reception, Olivia goes missing, and Will finds her in the water. After the ceremony, the storm picks up and the power goes out. The book returns to the present, and the guests begin to realize that someone has been murdered.
Part 2 – The Night Of Betrayal & Murder
The narrative shifts between multiple perspectives, and as secrets are revealed, the reader is left to wonder who the killer might be. Later, Hannah talks with Olivia, who is upset about a secret pregnancy and abortion. Hannah reveals that her sister Alice suffered a similar experience and wishes Alice had confided in her instead of taking her own life. At the wedding speeches, Jules thinks about how her dad stopped giving her money when he remarried. Jules had chosen the venue, which Aoife had pitched at a massive discount.
During Will’s speech, readers discover that he is also “Steven,” and Olivia had hooked up with him at a party. After Olivia’s abortion, Jules introduced Will to her family, and Olivia wrote an anonymous note to Jules. Later, Johnno confronts Will during a game, reveals a dark secret about a dead student, and asks if Will killed him.
Meanwhile, Hannah discovers that Will caused Alice’s suicide and that Charlie blames Will for a stag party incident. Olivia plans to tell Jules the truth about her hookup with Will, but he threatens her with nude photos. Jules overhears and tells Will to come cut the cake. Flash forward to the present, where Will is found dead, and Johnno is suspected of murder.
After the cake cutting, the lights go out, and Aoife reveals herself as Loner’s sister. Aoife stabs Will, believing her parents died from the grief of Darcey’s death. Johnno is apprehended, and Olivia and Jules reconcile. Ultimately, Hannah and Charlie leave, and Hannah wishes she had stabbed Will herself.