Title: The Gatecrasher
Author: Madeleine Wickham (Sophie Kinsella)
Publisher: Black Swan
Year: 1997, 2010 (my edition)
Fleur Daxeny is beautiful, unscrupulous, and has a large wardrobe of black designer suits. With the help of The Times announcements page she gate-crashes the funerals of the wealthy, preying on rich vulnerable men. She charms her way into their lives and onto their platinum cards, takes what she can and then moves swiftly on.
When Richard Favour, a dull but wealthy businessman, meets Fleur at his wife’s memorial service, he’s bowled over. Gradually Fleur works her spell on Richard’s reserved and stilted family – transforming their lives while she moves in on their wealth. She finds herself lingering longer than she meant to, becoming involved in the family – but as Fleur rifles through Richard’s files, it becomes clear that she is not the only one after his money.
I’m sure most of you know Sophie Kinsella from the Shopaholic series and her other stand-alone novels. Before she became famous with those books, she wrote several other novels under het real name, Madeleine Wickham, and this is one of them. They aren’t as funny as the other books, but the are a bit more in depth, which I like.
The theme of this novel might seem a bit cliché, but it was used in an original way, so this didn’t bother me.
At first I really liked Fleur and I was curious how she was going to get into Richard’s files and take his money. After a while though, I started to resent her because I felt sorry for Richard, who was happy for the first time in years and didn’t know which evil was waiting for him.
The author mentions several times that Zahra, Fleur’s daughter, is very thin and doesn’t eat much. Richard thinks about it sometimes, but he doesn’t react, which I found rather incredible, because this way the reader would be able to see how much he cares about his new family.
You also get some information about Emily, the deceased wife of Richard and the problems she caused in the past. I think Wickham should have given more information on that, because it wasn’t clear to me why Emily did what she did.
I liked the ending , which was sweet, but not too sweet.
Overall, it was a nice novel with some original twists and turns which will cheer you up when you’re down!