The best books with parties in the mix

Why am I passionate about this?

In the two or so years it took me to write A Death at the Party, the world was all but locked up in a pandemic. I needed to conjure up a party setting, but I couldn’t leave my house! So, I turned to fiction. I spent a lot of time reading novels centered around parties, studying how my fellow writers handled the intricacies and logistics that come with throwing groups of characters together on the page. Here are some of my most beloved books with a party or two in the mix. 

I wrote...

A Death at the Party

By Amy Stuart,

Book cover of A Death at the Party

What is my book about?

In this tense, spellbinding thriller set over the course of a single day, a woman prepares for a party that goes dreadfully wrong—for fans of Ashley Audrain and Lisa Jewell.

Nadine Walsh’s summer garden party is in full swing. The neighbors all have cocktails, the catered food is exquisite—everything’s going according to plan. But Nadine—devoted wife, loving mother, and doting daughter—finds herself standing over a dead body in her basement while her guests clink glasses upstairs. What happened? How did it come to this?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Mrs. Dalloway

Amy Stuart Why did I love this book?

In my mind, Woolf’s 1925 classic Mrs. Dalloway is the ultimate novel about a party. It also happens to be the inspiration behind my own novel.

Set over the course of a single day, Mrs. Dalloway follows Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for a garden party that evening, letting her mind get the best of her along the way. Dreamy, dark, and stream of consciousness, it’s considered Woolf's best work for good reason!

By Virginia Woolf,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Mrs. Dalloway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The working title of Mrs. Dalloway was The Hours. The novel began as two short stories, "Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street" and the unfinished "The Prime Minister". It describes Clarissa's preparations for a party she will host in the evening, and the ensuing party. With an interior perspective, the story travels forward and back in time and in and out of the characters' minds to construct an image of Clarissa's life and of the inter-war social structure.

In October 2005, Mrs. Dalloway was included on Time's list of the 100 best English-language novels written since Time debuted in 1923.

Book cover of And Then There Were None

Amy Stuart Why did I love this book?

Agatha Christie will forever be queen of the murder mystery. She has more than one novel set at parties, but And Then There Were None is the best of the best in my mind.

The premise – ten strangers summoned to an island for a party by an eccentric millionaire – almost feels like a trope now, it’s been done and redone so many times. That’s because Christie did such a magnificent job of it, writers and storytellers will forever pay homage to her by plucking this setup and reworking it in wonderful ways.

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked And Then There Were None as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Agatha Christie's world-famous mystery thriller, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers.

Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide.

The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but…

Book cover of Bridget Jones's Diary

Amy Stuart Why did I love this book?

I’ll never forget the searing humour with which Helen Fielding depicts the party where Bridget Jones first encounters Mark Darcy and his horrible Christmas sweater.

Some of us remember the movie scene, but the book set the hilariously awkward tone. This novel is such a fast and silly read with tons of heart, zero darkness or mystery, and lots of fun. I needed that back in 2020, so I re-read this book twenty-five years after first picking it up.

By Helen Fielding,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Bridget Jones's Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The multi-million copy number one Bestseller

A dazzlingly urban satire on modern relationships?
An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family?
Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something?

As Bridget documents her struggles through the social minefield of her thirties and tries to weigh up the eternal question (Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy?), she turns for support to four indispensable friends: Shazzer, Jude, Tom and a bottle of chardonnay.

Welcome to Bridget's first diary: mercilessly funny, endlessly touching and utterly addictive.

Helen Fielding's first Bridget Jones novel, Bridget Jones's Diary, sparked a phenomenon that has seen…

Book cover of The Guest List

Amy Stuart Why did I love this book?

Agatha Christie may have laid the groundwork for the ‘strangers stuck together’ premise, but in The Guest List, Lucey Foley absolutely runs with it.

Picture a remote island off the coast of Ireland and a wedding full of guests with grudges and secrets and plenty of bones to pick. Then, a dead body shows up. Lucy Foley has established herself as a true master of the fun, modern whodunit, and this is my favourite of hers. I couldn’t put it book down!

By Lucy Foley,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Guest List as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The brand new thriller from Lucy Foley - THE PARIS APARTMENT - is available to pre-order now*

The No.1 Sunday Times bestseller

*Over 1 million copies sold worldwide*
*One of The Times and Sunday Times Crime Books of the Year*
*Goodreads Choice Awards winner for Crime & Mystery 2020*

A gripping, twisty murder mystery thriller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

'Lucy Foley is really very clever' Anthony Horowitz
'Thrilling' The Times
'A classic whodunnit' Kate Mosse
'Sharp and atmospheric and addictive' Louise Candlish
'A furiously twisty thriller' Clare Mackintosh

On an island off the windswept Irish…

Book cover of Atonement

Amy Stuart Why did I love this book?

You know those books where you remember not just the plot or storyline, but the actual experience of reading it? Atonement is of those for me.

A sweeping wartime novel, the fate of its characters is determined by the events of a summer party. This was one of the first novels I read where I was repeatedly struck by the writer’s gift of prose and storytelling, so I often come back to it for inspiration.

In Atonement, McEwan got everything right, both at the sentence level and with the story and characters – except, in my writerly opinion, for the way the book ends. No spoilers here – read it first and see how you feel about the ending!

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Atonement as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a…

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The Midnight Man

By Julie Anderson,

Book cover of The Midnight Man

Julie Anderson Author Of The Midnight Man

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical crime fiction, and my latest novel is set in a hospital, a real place, now closed. The South London Hospital for Women and Children (1912–1985) was set up by pioneering suffragists and women surgeons Maud Chadburn and Eleanor Davies-Colley (the first woman admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons) and I recreate the now almost-forgotten hospital in my book. Events take place in 1946 when wartime trauma still impacts upon a society exhausted by conflict, and my book choices also reflect this.

Julie's book list on evocative stories set in a hospital

What is my book about?

A historical thriller set in south London just after World War II, as Britain returns to civilian life and the men return home from the fight, causing the women to leave their wartime roles. The South London Hospital for Women and Children is a hospital, (based on a real place) run by women for women and must make adjustments of its own. As austerity bites, the coldest Winter then on record makes life grim. Then a young nurse goes missing.

Days later, her body is found behind a locked door, and two women from the hospital, unimpressed by the police response, decide to investigate. Highly atmospheric and evocative of a distinct period and place.

The Midnight Man

By Julie Anderson,

What is this book about?


Winter 1946

One cold dark night, as a devastated London shivers through the transition to post-war life, a young nurse goes missing from the South London Hospital for Women & Children. Her body is discovered hours later behind a locked door.

Two women from the hospital join forces to investigate the case. Determined not to return to the futures laid out for them before the war, the unlikely sleuths must face their own demons and dilemmas as they pursue - The Midnight Man.

‘A mystery that evokes the period – and a recovering London – in…

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