The Wedding Party by Tammy Cohen

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the latest novel from Tammy Cohen, The Wedding Party which is available now in paperback and ebook. My thanks to publisher Black Swan who sent me a copy of the book for review, and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the tour invite. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 18th August 2021
Publisher: Black Swan

About the Book

Till death do us part . . .

Lucy has dreamt of her wedding day for as long as she can remember.

And now the day is almost here. Her nearest and dearest are gathered on an idyllic Greek island and she just knows it’s going to be perfect. It has to be.

But even the best-laid plans can go horribly wrong. Why are her parents behaving so strangely? Why won’t the rather odd lady from the airport stop hanging around? Who is the silent stranger her sister brought as a plus-1?

And then they find the body.

It’s going to be a day to remember.

My Thoughts

Confession time – this is the first of Tammy Cohen’s books that I’ve read. I know. I’m an idiot. But I’ve remedied that now and will be making amends with more reads in the future because The Wedding Party has shown what a fabulous writer she is. As someone who has read the book and is, now, writing the review a few hours before heading to a friend’s wedding party, I am hoping this is not an omen and that said friend’s wedding has gone without the colossal catalogue of hitches that is experienced by Lucy and her husband to be Jason. 😳

This book is a blend of bridezilla obsessiveness, family secrets, suspense, mystery, humour, romance and so much more. It’s a far from perfect picture of family dysfunction, frame by the extra stressful circumstances of a wedding and a whole host of secrets just waiting to be discovered, all of which are going to send shockwaves through the assembled family and friends. You know from the start that something about this particular wedding is a little … off. Just how ‘off’ and what has caused this serious and shocking state of affairs is the discovery we have yet to make and the journey that Tammy Cohen leads us on as we navigate the winding and precipitous cliff paths of the idyllic Greek island Lucy has chosen as her wedding venue.

Now, if you ask me, transporting your entire family to another country for the purpose of a wedding is just insane. It’s enough hassle corralling everyone to a local church but as beautiful as the bright blue skies may look in the wedding pictures, this setting turns out to be far from perfect and as far from the wondrous time that Lucy had first pictured. I’m not really a fan of the whole big fluffy wedding palava, but this book has little to persuade me it’s a good idea. Of course, none of the weddings I’ve attended this far have taken quite so dark a turn as this one. But the whole event plays out like a car crash waiting to happen with a series of problems plaguing the family en-route to the big day. And what a memorable day indeed.

I love the way in which the author has set up the characters. From emotional bride Lucy, whose obsession with keeping up appearances far outweighs her ability to plan and budget, her parents who are both keeping secrets, to groom Jason who hasn’t been entirely open about his own past or his family, and younger sister, Jess, whose approach to life seems to border on the undeniably selfish, even if she cannot see it for herself. There is quite the eclectic mix of personalities and with friends, wedding planners and other holidaymakers inserting themselves into the occasion, you can feel the tensions slowly building, with the occasional mini eruption of anger along the way. Each of them is simply a precursor to the main event though, and just when you think things can’t get more serious, more fractious, we are faced with the wedding. A wedding’s not a wedding without a bit (lot) of drama, right?

The story is told through three different narrative styles. We have the linear story from the moment wedding party starts to arrive in Greece, the one in which the picture is slowly, but surely, built up, piece by piece. There is a series of interviews in which we hear, first person, from the main players in this dramatic set piece. Then there is a third element. A selection of journal entries which gives the reader a greater insight into the mind and behaviour of one of the wedding party. I liked this blend of styles and felt it piqued my interest as I tried to figure who, or what, they were each referring to.

The Wedding Party is a great character study of some very troubled, occasionally neurotic, definitely obsessive and often completely oblivious individuals. This is family at it’s best, and worst, and for all the moments of humour there is an equal portion of drama. For all the arguments, there is a clear demonstration of loyalty and familial solidarity. There were very few characters I felt at ease with – maybe Gil who seemed to be the only completely open and genuine person out of the whole bunch, and at a push wedding planner Nina, although it’s fair to say she brought her own element of drama to the day. But I was completely hooked, intrigued to see who would be caught out and when, to see if Jason would ever prioritise Lucy over his mother, Cora, to discover the secrets of unexpected wedding guest, Gabriel, and to see just how that shock opening fit into the rest of the story.

So yes – I’m completely sold on the book and it’s definitely recommended. Still not convinced about weddings though …

About the Author

Tammy Cohen is the author of six psychological thrillers, the latest of which is The Wedding Party. She is fascinated by the darker side of human psychology. Her books explore how ‘ordinary’ people react when pushed into a corner, the parts of ourselves we hide from the world – and from ourselves. Previously she also wrote three commercial women’s fiction novels as Tamar Cohen debuting with The Mistress’s Revenge which was translated all round the world. In addition, she has written three historical novels under the pseudonym of Rachel Rhys. The first, Dangerous Crossing, was a Richard & Judy book club pick in Autumn 2017. She is a member of the Killer Women crime writing collective and lives in North London with her partner and three (allegedly) grown up children and her highly neurotic rescue dog.

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