Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Lisa Hall’s psychological thriller novel, ‘The Party’. I read this whilst I was on holiday and absolutely raced through it! So, keep reading to discover my thoughts…
It was just a party. But it turned into a nightmare.
When Rachel wakes up in a strange room, the morning after a neighbour’s party, she has no memory of what happened the night before. Why did her husband leave her alone at the party? Did they row? Why are Rachel’s arms so bruised? And why are her neighbours and friends so vague about what really happened?
Little by little, Rachel pieces together the devastating events that took place in a friend’s house, at a party where she should have been safe. Everyone remembers what happened that night differently, and everyone has something to hide. But someone knows the truth about what happened to Rachel. And she’s determined to find them.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** This novel explores the theme of sexual assault and rape in great detail, including all the grizzly details of the physical rape and subsequent criminal investigation. Explores the theme of domestic violence, including emotional and physical abuse. Includes scenes of a sexual nature and also explores the theme of infidelity.
‘The Party’ (July 2018) is Lisa Hall’s third novel, following on from ‘Between You And Me’ (March 2016) and ‘Tell Me No Lies’ (October 2016). She has since written ‘Have You Seen Her’, which was released on 2nd May 2019. Lisa Hall has always dreamed of being a writer, and she now lives in a small village in Kent with her family.
The book has received positive reviews, from the likes of Heat: “This is an unrelenting and scarily plausible story weaved expertly around some very real characters”, Closer: “An addictive read” and Woman Magazine: “This is a fast-paced book, and with twists up until the final page, you won’t regret investing in it”. Fellow authors also praised the book, such as Sam Carrington: “A dark, compelling read that demands to be read in one sitting” and B.A. Paris “Compelling [and] addictive”.
‘The Party’ follows the life of Rachel, whose life is turned upside down when she realises she was raped at a neighbour’s party. But with no memory of the event and no witnesses, will she ever get to the bottom of what happened to her that night?
The narrative is told from the first-person perspective of Rachel throughout the novel. This gives the reader a really deep insight to her thoughts, feelings and emotions, and we follow her on her emotional journey to discovering the truth about what happened at the party. The narrative begins the day after the party, in which Rachel discovers she has been assaulted, and moves forwards whilst the investigation continues. The narrative also regularly delves into the past and recalls the events leading up to the party. The story is very easy to follow, but is still effective.
Rachel is my favourite character in the novel. She’s a doting wife and loving mother, and on the surface she appears to be the perfect person. When she discovers she has been raped, she is truly broken and understandably becomes an emotional wreck. She struggles to trust anyone around her, and begins to push people away when they get too close. She hides her pain from those closest to her and attempts to deal with it by herself. But it soon becomes clear that Rachel isn’t so perfect, and she has a few secrets of her own lurking beneath the surface. Rachel is an excellently-written character, and I felt a great deal of sympathy towards her.
Rachel’s husband Gareth is cold and detached, and is often unable to control his anger. When Rachel is attacked, he does his best to support her – but he’s simply not cut out for the job. He doubts his wife and doesn’t trust her, and when she starts to become involved in looking for her attacker, he doesn’t support this decision. Gareth is a workaholic and is self-indulgent, often putting his own needs before others. He too has a few skeletons lurking in the closet, and he’s not the man he claims to be.
Rachel’s friend Ted is vulnerable and emotional after his wife leaves him, and he strikes up a particular friendship with Rachel at a barbeque. Ted is a very kind, generous man, and he seems incapable of ever doing anything wrong. He’s the kind of character that everybody loves! But he’s a much more complex character than he first appears to be, and there is a whole other side to his personality.
Other characters in the novel include: Neil and Liz (Rachel’s neighbours who hosted the party), Robbie (Rachel’s son), Carrie (Rachel’s sexual offence liaison officer), Aaron (Gareth’s colleague), Angela (Ted’s ex-wife), Sean (Ted’s son), and various other neighbours and guests who attended the party. There is a relatively large cast of characters in the novel, but all are important and valuable to the story.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) This novel explores sexual assault and rape in great detail. The physical details of the rape are explored, as well as the emotional aftermath, and the subsequent criminal investigation into finding the perpetrator. The theme of domestic violence is also explored, including both emotional and physical abuse. Finally, the novel includes scenes of a sexual nature, and explores the theme of infidelity. If you feel like any of these issues may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors onwards, the investigation seems to be getting muddier and muddier. Hall has a clear skill of pointing the spotlight on one character as being the perpetrator, but then completely pulling the wool over the readers’ eyes and pointing at somebody else. Everybody is a suspect, and Rachel has no idea who to trust anymore. Who attacked her at the party? And is the person closer to her than she may think?
So, let’s talk about the ending! There’s a dramatic end scene in which the perpetrator is finally revealed, and Rachel finds herself in a very dangerous situation. Rachel must fight for her own, and the people closest to her’s, lives. My eyes were glued to the page during the ending – I simply couldn’t put it down! I was really happy with the way the novel ended, and felt that everything was tied together brilliantly.
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly if you’re interested in reading about issues such as sexual assault and rape. I loved Rachel as a character, and felt she was so believable and relatable. I believe this book is a really important read! My only criticism is that I predicted who the perpetrator was about halfway through the book, so that ruined a bit of the suspense for me. But still, a very good read!
Happy reading 🙂