cover image The Party

The Party

Elizabeth Day. Little, Brown, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-55675-0

Fans of Herman Koch’s The Dinner will be tempted to check out Day’s fourth novel—both follow two couples with simmering emotional histories as they spend an upscale evening together, during which old resentments are revealed and something tragic occurs—but in this novel, the plot plays out predictably and is beset by obvious foreshadowing. Ben Fitzmaurice and Martin Gilmour, Londoners on the cusp of middle age, have been best friends since they met at public school in 1989, despite the fact that the former comes from a wealthy, titled background and the latter a hand-me-down existence. Ben and his beautiful wife, Serena, hold a party to celebrate their new home, Tipworth Priory, a former monastery. Martin and his more modest partner, Lucy, are invited. Now a successful art critic, Martin has never gotten over the meanness of his youth and rubs shoulders uneasily at the party with Ben’s posh guests, including the new prime minister. At the end of the evening, Ben and Serena ask to speak to Martin and Lucy in private, and that’s when things get out of hand. Ultimately, this is a hollow diatribe against the rich and entitled. (Aug.)