The Gatecrasher – Madeleine Wickham (Sophie Kinsella) (web)
Publication: 1998 (paperback), Black Swan
Page Count: 315
My Rating: Must Read! Get it Now!! (women)
” ‘The day thou gravest, Lord, is ended,’ same Fleur. She forced herself to look down at the hymn book and pretend that she was reading the words. As though she didn’t know them off by heart. As though she hadn’t sung them at too many funerals and memorial services to count. ‘Why did people choose the same dreary hymns for funerals?’ she thought. Didn’t they appreciate how boring it made things for the regular funeral gatecrasher?”
Madeleine Wickham is best known for the novels published under her pen-name, Sophie Kinsella. While the novels published under this pseudonym are extremely popular, with two novels in Kinsella’s Shopaholics series being made into film, Madeleine Wickham’s work should not be discounted. It is extremely fresh and enjoyable to read, with The Gatecrasher being my personal favourite among her titles.
Fleur Daxeny goes through rich men faster than she goes through designer hats… Black hats, that is. She routinely gatecrashes society funerals to meet wealthy men before entangling herself in their lives to take advantage of their deep pockets. When she meets rich widower Richard Favour, Fleur is ready to continue her gold-digger ways… Until she finds herself falling for Richard and embracing his family. As she contemplates ending her gatecrashing days, a long-buried secret from her past threatens to destroy her new family…
From the very first passage of The Gatecrasher, I was hooked. While of course, you might not expect to automatically engage with or like a gold-digging character, Fleur was likeable from the first page and I found myself smiling and actually mouthing her dialogue, so beautifully written was it!
” ‘All right!’ said Fleur. ‘I’ve decided!’ She pushed up the veil and beamed around the room. ‘I’m going to wear this one today.’
‘Lovely,’ whispered the hairdresser.
‘So if you could just pack the other five into boxes for me…’ Fleur smiled mysteriously at her reflection and pulled the dark silk gauze down over her face again. The woman from Take Hat! gazed at her.
‘You’re going to buy them all?’
‘Of course I am. I simply can’t choose between them. They’re all too perfect!'”
To the modern reader, the notion of “Funeral Crashing” may not be as shocking as it was when this novel was published, due to the hit movie “Wedding Crashers” starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. But if I were to compare the premise of these two texts, I would say that The Gatecrasher is a deeper, more facinating narrtive. Of course, gold-digging is quite an abhorrent subject, but the narrative is extremely engaging and does not follow the path you might expect of it.
The narrative is aided by the deep consideration of multiple characters. In particular, I loved how they individually manoeuvred through the narrative so that you couldn’t pre empt the resolutions of the various story lines. The characters of Phillipa (Richard’s adult daughter) and Lambert (her conniving husband) in particular made me enjoy this novel more than a typical women’s literature novel. Both characters were, for me, the kinds of characters you just want to shake or yell at, and its easy to lose yourself in their individual problems. The Gatecrasher is not the sort of women’s literature novel where the reader finishes reading with warm-fuzzy feelings about each character. The individual characters and their various issues and their varied attempts at seeking resolution offered a point of difference from novels typical of this genre.
As I reached the end of The Gatecrasher, I has that awful sinking feeling you get when you know that this wonderful book you are reading is near its end. I would thoroughly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys chick-lit; it was an incredibly enjoyable, lighthearted read and you will not be disappointed!
Where Can You Get It?
To buy The Gatecrasher for a great price and have it shipped straight to your door for free, follow this link to the Book Depository.