Candice: After all of this talk of holidays I thought I ought to write a review of one of the books I read while I was away.
I picked up The Party as I liked the sound of the premise, not unusual but thought it would be a change from my usual police procedural.
The story is around Martin and Ben who met at boarding school, went to University together and are now about to celebrate Ben’s 40th. They come from two different worlds, Martin from a single parent family of little means who managed to get a scholarship to the school, Ben from an old moneyed family.
Martin is an odd, isolated character, who displays almost psychopathic tendencies with some of his actions; as when he kills a bird that has fallen, injured into the school playground. This gives an insight that all is not well with him.
By the time he meets Ben he is a boy very much on his own and Ben takes him under his wing, for no reason that I can see. Ben makes sure Martin is not bullied and takes him back to his house during the school holidays. By the time they go to University Martin’s mother is doesn’t really feature in his life. But that’s Martin’s plan. He can see opportunity in Ben’s family, and a life that he thinks he deserves, a life of money and privilege.
The book cuts back and forth between past and present, explaining how Martin met his wife as well as scenes at Ben’s spectacular party. Now turning 40 Martin is a journalist who has just published a successful art book, Ben a stockbroker with an obscene amount of money. His party is being held in the grounds of his lavish pile in the Cotswolds with all the current celebs and political figures attending.
Their relationship is not as it was, Martin hero worships Ben but he starting to move away from him, neither of their wives like the closeness of their relationship too.
Intercut with Martin’s story is his wife’s, Lucy, told to a therapist. We discover she is currently in care because of something that happened at the party. As the story unfolds we find a woman who lacks confidence and was swept off her feet by the silver tongue of her husband. But she’s not that stupid and over the years had put two and two together that there is more between the two male friends.
With the party coming to a close Ben and his trophy wife break the news to Martin and Lucy that they need to stop seeing them. Ben is standing to be an MP and Martin carry’s a dark secret, at University they were involved in a car accident where a girl died. What Ben’s wife doesn’t know (but Lucy has worked out) is that Martin took the fall for Ben, mainly to tie himself even more closely to his friend. Ben’s family has been funding Martin’s lifestyle ever since.
I was disappointed with this book. I read it very quickly, interested to know how it panned out though I had an idea that something like the accident would have happened. But how disappointing was the ending? To me Martin gives up at the end, he is just left living on his own talking about making a plan to get back to Ben but that feels weak. Lucy is the strong character as she separates from him and also shows her anger at Ben and family by lashing out at them, hence why she is seeing a therapist.
So worth a read but prepare yourself to fall off the edge at the end.