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The Gatecrasher Hardcover – April 9, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Money is safety, darling," the delightfully wicked funeral crasher Fleur Daxeny advises her 13-year-old daughter after an almost perfect execution of her best skill: swindling wealthy widowers. In this modern-day novel of manners, Wickham's lively prose needles the British upper class with a mixture of suspense and wit. Armed with a closet full of designer black suits, the daily obituaries and a face that never betrays her 40 years, Fleur invades the funerals of the wealthy, enchantingly rich, grieving new widowers in need of a shoulder to cry on. She attends the memorial service of Emily Favour, whom she pretends was a long-lost acquaintance, and promptly lures the good-hearted Richard Favour into her web. Although his troubled daughter, Phillipa, and her crafty husband, Lambert, suspect serious gold digging, Fleur's beauty and charm dazzle them, and soon she's invited to live at the family estate in Surrey. What Fleur finds there is a gate-crasher's dream--a welcoming family, an accessible Gold Card and, after some snooping, a bank account worth millions. Even when Fleur's daughter, Zara, whom Fleur has neglected to mention, arrives unexpectedly from boarding school, the Favours make no fuss, welcoming the teen into the fold. As Fleur and Zara become comfortable with country club life, Fleur learns that she's not the only one scheming for Richard's money, and that Richard might not be as gullible as she thinks. But with Zara finally enjoying the stability of a real home, can Fleur leave so easily this time? Wickham (Swimming Pool Sunday) creates memorable characters who are as unpredictable and multifaceted as they are stylish. While the quick wrapup misses a cue, this novel is still jolly fun. (May)

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Fleur Daxeny is beautiful and sophisticated, with an appetite for comfort beyond her means. She also has a fine wardrobe of black designer dresses that she wears to the funerals of wealthy London women in hope of snaring their grieving husbands. Once captivated by her good looks and charm, these men provide her with money, a home, and an extravagant lifestyle for however long it takes her to stash a bit of cash and move on to the next. Such is the fate of Richard Favour. The ease with which Fleur moves into his life dazzles him. His late wife had been really rather dull, and everyone in his family seems to find Fleur most refreshing. But just as Richard proposes marriage, the unscrupulous Fleur gets bored and begins reading obituaries again. This is an often witty and deeply biting novel of modern manners and morals. Wickham's (Tennis Party) characters move with the studied grace of Jane Austen's upper class, and her plot is perfect for a made-for-TV movie. Readers will be both touched and entertained. Recommended for all public libraries.DSusan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (April 9, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312243987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312243982
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,798,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By pontmarie on April 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Social climbing and the lengths people will go to in order to make a better life for themselves can be fascinating. In The Gatecrasher we have one such anti-heroine, but thankfully, she is surrounded by some of the most interesting and likable characters I have met as of late.
Fleur Daxeny crashes funerals in order to meet rich, vulnerable men, and take as much as she can get from them before moving on. She's been doing this successfully for a while and has her routine down pat. When we meet her, she is in the process of getting ready for the new batch of funerals coming her way, charging her stylish new black outfits to her unsuspecting, soon-to-be-deserted, Greek lover.
Her target at Emily Valour's memorial service is, of course, Emily's bereaved husband Richard, a rich man who mourns the wife he's lost but at the same time realizes the he's never really known her. What Richard has never had is a passionate soul mate, a woman who can make each day come alive and instill in him the desire to truly live. Fleur is determined to be all that and more.
Little by little we see Fleur stealthily become an integral part of Richard's life. Damn his club and his gossipy acquaintances, Richard thinks. For the first time in his life he desires and is desired, although guilty thoughts of Emily do pop up whenever he's tempted to make love to Fleur, who knows that Richard must succumb physically in order to be completely hers.
Richard's children are, of course, dysfunctional. Young Antony lives in shame of the birthmark that made him imperfect to his mother and his social life is painfully awkward and nonexistent. Daughter Philippa is married to the odious and greedy Lambert, the man Emily said would be the only one to marry an such an undesirable package as she.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Kaiser VINE VOICE on August 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book, like Wickham's other books, is so disappointing. I continue to buy them thinking that I'll eventually get a bit of her "Kinsella" persona in the writing. But, no. It's as though she ruthlessly buries any hint of the fun, hilarious, endearing characters she concocts as Kinsella in order to try out darker, more serious heroines. They just don't work. I read a lot of British chick lit, and there are loads of better books and authors out there who can write "edgy" (as the book jacket says) characters whom the reader will actually want to read about. I just didn't enjoy Fleur. There was nothing redeeming about her. It's difficult to stick with a story when you don't like the individual who's eyes you must see through in the book. As other reviewers have stated, the story itself drags on and on for pages with nothing interesting happening. My hope is that Wickham only tries out this kind of writing every few years because I love the way she writes as Kinsella. Here's hoping she puts out more and more "Kinsella" books and less "Wickham" books in the future.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Carol S. VINE VOICE on July 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"The Gatecrasher" is an upper-class, refined, oh-so-British version of the con artist who falls in love with her prey. Fleur Daxeny (you have to love that name) attends the memorial services of wealthy wives so she can insinuate her way into the affections of their vulnerable widowers; as soon as she has a Gold Card in hand - conveniently billed to the widower, of course - she is outta there. But her latest target, Richard Favour, gives Fleur something of a crisis of confidence: he's so darn nice, and thoughtful, and sweet, and genuine, that she isn't sure she'll be able to go through with the scam after all. This isn't a new plot device (and so, to some extent, the story feels like it's been done before), but Madeleine Wickham works it with all she's got. It's great fun to peer into the lives of the wealthy, especially when they live in mansions in the English countryside and drink beverages like "buck's fizz" and wear couture hats. Fleur manages to be charming and likeable despite her ulterior motives. And because Wickham does a good job with characterization and plot, one can easily overlook the more predictable elements of the book. The result is a stylish and well-written story reminiscent of Brit writers like Joanna Trollope.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Heather Negahdar on March 16, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have just finished reading THE GATECRASHER at three o'clock this morning and I found it to be ever so entertaining with characters that made the book appealing for me.

Fleur Daxeny is a forty something year old sophisticated gatecrasher, who habitually attends funerals and memorial services of widows from very elite and wealthy backgrounds. Assisted by a male friend Johnny, they comb the obituaries with a fine tooth comb every day weeding out the millionaires from the rest of us. Then decked out in her wonderful black hats and fashionable outfits she puts herself in a position to meet the millionaire at the service of his dead wife, where she lances her charm on the poor unsuspecting vulnerable man, until she finally makes it to his wallet, into bank account......and enjoy all the niceties of a cushiony lifestyle.

But in THE GATECRASHER on this particular occasion, she will meet Richard Favour a, man with a family and who is different to those she has trodden on before. You'll meet Richard's son Antony, his daughter Philippa and her husband Lambert as well as Zara; Fleur's daughter who comes into the picture mid-way and causes a certain change in the tide. The characters are great and have made this book what it entertaining.
Reviewed by Heather Marshall Negahdar (SUGAR-CANE 16/03/02)
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