When term ends for the summer break, photography teacher Poppy decides to escape the home she still shares with her estranged husband, Josh, and take herself and her camera to an island off the Devon coast. But on her way to commune with the only inhabitants, puffins and other seabirds, best friend and rookie wedding planner, Lola, ropes her in to help out with an emergency. Potentially catastrophic and career-ending for Lola, the quick-fix solution lands Poppy a photographic gig at a high-profile wedding on a privately-owned island, among some altogether different wildlife.
Poppy and her dry sense of humour appealed to me from the outset. Her dire home and work situations made me feel for her and initially I’d hoped she’d gain some confidence and breathing space with the puffins on Orwell Island. That is, until Lola steps in and alters the course of her week.
Loud and energetic where Poppy is quieter and less confident, Lola and Poppy couldn’t be more different. Yet their friendship is both mutually supportive and genuinely affectionate, cheeky and fun. Lola’s burgeoning new business and Poppy’s marital woes have impacted things between them, so it’s great to see these two have a chance to spend time together and help each other out here. Even if the circumstances are less than ideal.
Theirs isn’t the only university friendship we revisit in the book. Poppy soon discovers that she also knows the groom. Will is as shocked to see her as she is him but again, it’s wonderful to see these two reconnect. Abigail Mann switches back and forth to their uni days in between counting down to the wedding, which means we get to meet their younger selves, discover their dynamic, see how Poppy came to marry Josh and understand when this last relationship turned so toxic.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a wedding without some weird and wonderful family dynamics and they certainly play a big part here. Lola and Poppy have their hands full ensuring this high-end event wedding runs to plan and everyone’s kept happy, while also navigating emotional maelstroms of their own.
Abigail Mann always finds the humour in everyday life situations, work and relationships, but here she excels by staging a wedding and containing most of the characters to an island with limited escape routes. They soon become punch drunk on an intoxicating mix: that heady cocktail of chaos served up when disparate friends and family members gather and act out their given roles, with all the accompanying drama, while corporate deals are being concluded and young people’s futures determined.
The Wedding Crasher has its emotional, tender and more reflective moments when dealing with toxic relationships, family dynamics, and young people who are eight years out of university, and wondering if they’re on the right path in life or have made good choices. But Abigail Mann also ensures that she fills the book with moments of pure comedy and random crazy situations once Poppy finds herself photographing a fractious wedding party rather than the more placid puffins she was intending to capture.
Ultimately, it’s the characters and their friendships that form the beating heart of this book and make it work so well for me. They’re as reassuringly warm, witty and winning as The Wedding Crasher itself. It’s easily Abigail Mann’s best book to date.
The Wedding Crasher by Abigail Mann is published by One More Chapter, a Harper Collins imprint. It is available as an audiobook, ebook and in paperback. You can find it at Amazon UK (affiliate link), Bookshop.org (affiliate link), Hive and Waterstones. You can find the author over at her Author Website or follow her over on Instagram or on Twitter.
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.