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The Gatecrasher

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Everything's coming up roses for Fleur Daxeny, as she goes through more rich men than she does designer hats... if that's humanly possible. Beautiful, charming, and utterly irresistible, her success at crashing funerals to find wealthy men is remarkable. But behind Fleur's Harvey Nichols wardrobe, is a woman with a mysterious past. 

Fleur wastes no time in seducing her latest conquest, the handsome and rich widower Richard Favour, and she swoops into his life like a designer-clad tornado. His children are caught up in a whirlwind as their father's new girlfriend descends on the family estate leaving chaos and excitement in her perfume-scented wake. Soon, more than one family member is suspicious of Fleur's true intentions.
Fleur is not one to wear her heart on her Chanel sleeves, but she soon finds herself embracing Richard and his lovable family. But just as Fleur contemplates jumping off the gold-digger train for good and enjoying the ride of true love, a long-buried secret from her past threatens to destroy her new family. Fleur is thrown into a race against time to prove herself to Richard before it's too late.  Can she trust her heart or will she cut ties and run away as fast as her Prada pumps can take her?

Take a wild and marvelous ride with The Gatecrasher, whose clever, chic, and sassy style will leave you desperately wanting more wonderful Wickham!

296 pages, Hardcover

First published April 1, 1998

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About the author

Madeleine Wickham

16 books2,210 followers
Madeleine Wickham (born 12 December 1969) is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels. The Shopaholic novels series focuses on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances. The books follows her life from when her credit card debt first become overwhelming ("The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic") to the latest book on being married and having a child ("Shopaholic & Baby"). Throughout the entire series, her obsession with shopping and the complications that imparts on her life are central themes.

Gemma Townley is her sister.


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5 stars
3,689 (15%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,123 reviews
Profile Image for Suad Shamma.
682 reviews154 followers
November 23, 2012
Sophie Kinsella brings more charm, more wit, more depth and more laughs to her stories. Everything that Madeleine Wickham seems to lack.

This is my fourth Wickham book and what a stupid book! What a distasteful protagonist! I honestly don't think I could've disliked a character more than Fleur.

I started this book with the hopes that it would be an interesting read - albeit light. The premise of this book, the plot, seemed very interesting, original even. A lady who crashes funerals in search for wealthy, vulnerable men to prey on in order to climb up the social ladder, only to choose the wrong man to prey on and end up getting too close to the family for her own consciousness's good. Great story right?


What a waste of my time. It dragged on and on and on for the very longest time, only to have Fleur get worse and worse in character, instead of better. To have her thirteen year old daughter Zara possess more sense and wisdom than her? It's not until the last TWO pages that Fleur awakens from her selfish, obnoxious, awful, money-focused daze and decides to do something with her life and for her daughter's sake. Oh my God, are you serious? Madeleine Wickham made us hate this character the whole way through, and wouldn't even wrap up the story properly and just left us with two final pages of utter nonsense as...what? Closure?

And is Richard really that much of an idiot? Yes, sure, he's the nicest man on the planet, but since when is nice synonymous with stupid? He spent the entire book looking for clues on who his dead wife really was, and wondering about all the qualities and things that were kept hidden from him when she was alive, and then he just simply...accepts...Fleur's final request of not asking any questions and keeping all the secrets and mysteries, and even gets emotional that she was back and is agreeing to "staying" with him but not marrying him? I mean, I repeat, is this man stupid?

Very frustrating story, and even more frustrating characters. They weren't well-rounded at all, they did not develop well at all, the main characters pretty much stayed completely the same throughout the book, and only the secondary characters seemed to change to the better.

I think Wickham should stick to writing in Kinsella's style.
Profile Image for Karina Hernandez.
36 reviews15 followers
March 24, 2015
what an awful ending to a mediocre book with the most annoying characters
20 reviews
November 26, 2008
This is disappointing, especially coming from the author who gave us the Shopaholic series. The premise is interesting enough: a woman who lives off widowers, hopping from one funeral to another with a little help from a couple of gay friends. But the characters aren't fully developed and I had a hard time finding any redeeming quality in the main character that justified a whole family falling in love with her and ultimately, too easily forgiving the way she has used them. From what I read, all she has is apparently 'charm,' and surely that's not enough, not even in the world of fiction. She thinks too many mean things of others and is inconsiderate; I sometimes wondered if Wickham simply forgot to present the more positive side of her. The ending is abrupt too; she is about to leave her latest conquest to find the next widower and her change of mind is just not believable enough. It's a pity, because the book is actually full of characters that are quite fascinating and I might've been more hooked if I had had more thorough information about each of them. The ending is of course pleasing, but not satisfying at all because Wickham fails to make us believe that it is possible.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic) .
997 reviews112 followers
December 14, 2015
Published: 10/07/2007
Author: Madeleine Wickham

This book was light hearted, fun, sweet and had a little bit of mystery in it. Madeleine Wickham (Sophie Kinsella) doesn't disappoint with this book. In my opinion it is one of the best written by Sophie Kinsella. The was the first one of the Madeleine Wickham books that I read as soon as I finsihed it I purchased the rest of the books and couldn't wait to read them. It is a must read for anyone who loves Sophie Kinsella books and anyone who loves romantic and rom-com books.
This was one of them kind of books where you just cannot put it down, I had many sleepless nights due to being so hooked on to the novel. Fleur (the main character) has made her money and life out of crashing peoples funerals in order to work her way into the widows life to get them to spend all their money on her. I quite liked the character of Fleur I thought that she was very intriguing as to how she managed to worm her way into these mens lives. The characters that are featured in the novel are all very well described and the surroundings/setting is painted perfectly by the author so that when you close your eyes you can actually see it in your eyes and imagine everything that is happening.
Profile Image for Rachel.
32 reviews8 followers
November 28, 2014
I was very pleased to find out that Madeleine Wickham was Sophie Kinsella, as I loved her books. What pleased me even more was that Madeleine Wickham takes a darker, deeper look into her characters than her Sophie Kinsella books offer. There is hilarious comedy, but there is also deep sorrow within this book.
Fleur Daxeny picks up rich men at their wife's funeral. She finds Richard Favour, and the story takes off from there. What could be a light-hearted and shallow story is actually quite deep, particularly regarding why Fleur is the way she is. Ms. Wickham delves into Fleur's psyche, as well as Richard's odd marriage with his now diseased wife. The book moved me, even as Fleur grew more and more outrageous as the story continued. Richard's obnoxious and insulting son-in-law added more emotion to the book (mostly angry emotions from myself!). My only hang-up would be the ending, as it seemed a bit rushed and even a little fake. I had too many unanswered questions. Apart from that, I was moved by the novel's look at loss, and how far we will go to not be deserted.
Profile Image for Barbara.
46 reviews
December 28, 2008
I picked this up so that I could have a "fluffy book" to read over the holidays, one that I could just pick up and read without doing much thinking. It fit the bill.
However I found it was very slow -- at one point, I picked it up and was surprised to find that I was half-way through, despite the plot not having picked up much at all. I think the author was trying to do too many things at once, lay down too much character development and subplots -- and not very succinctly, frankly! -- and didn't quite succeed.
I felt a little letdown by the ending, I was sure it was going to go differently -- but it was not predictable at least!
As I finished the book, I thought it would be nice to see a sequel with Zara (the daughter), but with more of a whirlwind-comic effect.
Profile Image for Audrey.
1,273 reviews79 followers
August 6, 2022
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wanted the book to be longer. We needed a longer ending and more of a resolution. I was holding my breath for the last 10 pages because I was so scared this was going to end in a way I didn't want it to end, and then I would have been mad.

I wish this book held up to the blurb more. First, Zara's father wasn't such a big threat. More importantly, I wanted a story of a professional gold digger falling for her mark. By the end of the book, I wasn't convinced that Fleur loved Richard, only that she liked him a lot/more than the other men. Fleur treated the men who were her marks as her sugar daddy but 10x that, living with them and everything. I still don't understand how she finagled her way into that because most people won't let you just live with them and provide for you until you're engaged.

I was going to be mad if by the end of the book, Philippa didn't leave Lambert, but luckily that happened. I liked both subplots of Lambert sticking around with Philippa for her promised inheritance by her 30th birthday and Richard and Fleur's children, Antony and Zara, having a little bit of a romance themselves. I also found Emily, the dead wife, to be interesting in that she never seemed to love Richard or be passionate about him. She was cruel to both her children, but everyone kind of idolized her when she was alive. (I would have also liked to have known what she died from.) Her sister, Gillian, seemed to be a very boring person with almost no personality when she was first introduced to the story. Gillian had no job but was kind of the housekeeper/cook for the family. Her life was too entwined with Emily's. She wanted to leave, but Emily wouldn't let her.

This book really needed an epilogue where a few months later, Fleur agrees to marry him and she's satisfied with that life and not off trying to find richer men. I also would have liked to know that ten years later or so, Antony & Zara ended up together, too. I wonder if Madeline had a page count limit because the last book I read by her, A Desirable Residence , also came in at 296 pages.

Fleur isn't my favorite character and once or twice, I found her very unlikeable. It pained me that she wanted to scam Richard in the end after he had been so kind to her, even offering her marriage. She didn't deserve it. I wonder if, in the future, Richard will ever find out that he was her mark. I thought his son, Antony, was going to tell him at the end, but he didn't. I was waiting for that the whole book and dreading that confrontation, so I might have been slightly relieved when it never happened.

What were her plans when she was in her 50s or older and no longer as pretty? What was she going to do then? Eventually, she could have been caught or no longer been able to catch guys and swindle them out of their money. It seems almost easier to get a real job, so I appreciated the snippets of backstory Wickham gave us showing that Fleur didn't really have any marketable skills or higher education. I would have liked to know more why Fleur didn't abort her child, why Arizona of all places, and why did she come back to England? How did she meet Johnny, and why was he okay with what she did?
Profile Image for Claire (Book Blog Bird).
1,052 reviews38 followers
February 18, 2018
3.5 stars
This was a pretty good story about a professional gold-digger who dupes wealthy widowers into falling in love with her before absconding with all the cash and gifts she can convince them to part with. The story rolled along quickly and kept me interested, but it was the characters I really liked. There was a really good mix of nice people and arseholes. I haven’t read much of Sophie kinsellas work, but I might have to dig out some more books by her.
Profile Image for Emily.
231 reviews13 followers
March 10, 2009
Fleur has made a career out of crashing funerals and memorial services so that she can work her way into recently widower's lives. She earns the widower's trust then takes them for all she can and moves on. But, when she meets Richard Favour things start to change. She finds herself feeling comfortable and fitting in with his family. When her daughter comes to visit and fits in too Fleur realizes she is going to have some decisions to make. But is Fleur ready to give up the high life and to settle into the suburbs? With her daughter involved and asking questions, about her past, Fleur's past, and being ready for a change. Fleur has to consider and decide what she can do and what she has to do.

Parts of the book I really enjoyed and other parts were just ok. I really like most of the characters in this book, with 5 kind of main characters and 3 important supporting characters. The characters were given a decent background and we were given a view of the past of a few of them. I wanted a bit more on the character development side though from some of them. Also, I think the background could have been worked into the story better, you would be going along on the story and suddenly there would be a chapter set in the past and it would give you insight on why a character was the way they were now. Once we were given the background the subject was dropped though and story picked right back up, it was a little confusing.

I kind of wonder if somewhere Wickham has some long elaborate back stories for all of these characters and she wanted to work some of it in, but couldn't work in all that she wanted. I found this development of characters and how they were developed to a different degrees nice in some scenes, but annoying in other parts. At times I needed more on some of the supporting characters, which would have helped with some of the supporting characters relationship with the main characters.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and feel like I learned something about character development from it. The book didn't turn me off Wickham as a writer as it seems to some people which is good. Glad I read it.
Profile Image for Redfox5.
1,557 reviews55 followers
April 26, 2017
Although I like them, I'm not the biggest fan of the Shopaholic series. But I always really love Kinsella's other work. This is the first of her's I've read where she was writing as Madeleine Wickham and I hope it's not the last.

When I started reading this I knew I was going to love it but I figured as it was chick-lit, it would be pretty predictable. I was wrong. This book actually surprised me. I thought I had the story all figured out and then BOOM, Zara shows up.

I was also really shocked that we didn't have a scene where Richard finds out about Fleur's real intentions, confronts her, they would fall out for a bit but then end up happy ever after when Fleur explains that she now loves him. I was expecting this scene the entire book. But the book ends and Fleur never has to explain herself. I actually really liked that because I wasn't expecting it.

One thing I didn't like is that it hinted that Zara has an eating disorder but then it's never touched on again. If you are going to have one of your characters have a serious illness, then I think it's something you should follow up.

Overall this was one of those 'can't put it down' totally fluffy, no thinking required books, which is just what I need right now!

Profile Image for Susan.
125 reviews9 followers
November 30, 2008
True rating would be 1.5 stars--somewhere between "didn't like it" and "it was OK." When Madeleine Wickham morphed into Sophie Kinsella, apparently she acquired the ability to create characters with a few redeeming qualities to offset their character flaws (i.e., compulsive shopping).
Profile Image for Ciara.
Author 3 books342 followers
February 2, 2011
i picked this up because i like sophie kinsella's books--so sue me. this was as fluffy as i expected (i read it while i was sick--perfect for passing the time without expending too much brainpower), but kind of a head scratcher.

the titular gatecrasher is fleur, a charming 40-year-old redhead who crashes funerals to win the hearts of wealthy male attendees. she wins their trust & then connives to take them for every penny she thinks she can get away with, generally through a bizarre scheme i didn't understand involving credit cards. something about maybe getting cash off the card & stashing it away in bits & pieces until she can cash it all out & run off with her next mark. i wouldn't really know anything about it because credit cards hit you with crazy fees for cash advances, so i don't do them.

the book opens with fleur in the process of cleaning out one man by buying a succession a dramatic funeral appropriate hats. she then chooses a hat & wears it to the funeral of a woman who has supposedly left behind a wealthy husband, richard.

one weird thing about this book is that there is no one narrator or protagonist. the book jumps around between the heads of all the characters. this kind of added some depth to the story, because we got to see behind-the-scenes into every character's motivations. but it also kind of sucked, because it just gave us a kind of cliff's notes on each character, rather than allowing us to really fully inhabit one character & flesh the story out from that perspective.

so...richard is a widower who laments that he never really knew his dead wife well enough to be a judge of her character. he can only assume that she was as sweet & perfect as he imagined her to be.

fleur is the gatecrasher who takes up with richard. she grew up an ex-pat in abu dhabi. she became accustomed to the good life, but was orphaned as a teen. shortly thereafter, she manipulated one of her friends into giving her her $100,000 engagement ring, which she pawned to pay her way to new york city. fleur feels incredibly guilty about this manipulation & this is her motivation for continuing to bilk rich old dudes. if she settles for being someone's wife, hurting her teenage friend like that will have been for nothing. o...kay...?

gillian is dead emily's long-suffering older spinster sister. emily was always secretly cruel to gillian & manipulated her out of traveling the world like she had wanted. this did not prevent gillian from living with emily though, & taking care of all her cooking, cleaning, & child-rearing, while richard was apparently oblivious to all of this.

antony is richard's teenage son. he has a birthmark over one eye & his dead mother made him feel very self-conscious about it. as a result, he lost confidence in himself, & the wealthy neighbor kids picked on him. who cares?

phillipa is richard's older daughter. she is 28 years old & married. she loves romance novels, probably because she is in a loveless--actually quite abusive--marriage. she talks constantly but seems to have no backbone.

lambert is phillipa's husband. he works for richard's company. he married phillipa after dead emily confided to him that she & richard were arranging a trust for emily & she would become a multimillionaire on her 30th birthday. lambert SUCKS.

zara is is fleur's 13-year-old daughter. fleur shuttles her between a series of boarding schools. she doesn't know who her real father is & is desperate to know, apparently. fleur tells zara that if she just goes along with fleur's gold-digging schemes, fleur will tell zara who her father is when she turns 16.

are you feeling like you care about any of these characters? yeah, me neither.

long story short: fleur seduces richard & richard invites her to stay for the summer at his summer home with all the rest of these characters. everyone takes to fluer quite a bit, save for evil lambert. zara shows up on the doorstep after school ends & forms a special relationship with antony (which involves making out in the pantry every chance they get, even though they hope to be step-siblings shortly). fleur includes gillian where emily had excluded her. she is a potential friend for friendless phillipa. she seems to enjoy the company of the family as well, not that that prevents her from making up a song & dance to get signed on to richard's gold card. at first he's like, "yeah, i don't think so," so fleur starts looking for a new funeral to attend. then he gets all sentimental & agrees to the gold card thing.

which is so STUPID. this is a dude who keeps the door to his home office locked at all times. i don't see a guy like that signing some strange woman on to his credit card. he & emily had never in 33 years of marriage had a joint bank account. he's been dating fleur for all of maybe three or four months when he agrees to her little scheme. & while we hear plenty from every member of the family regarding how much they like fleur, when we are in fleur's head, all we hear is commentary about how richard hangs around too much & always wants to spend time with her, & phillipa is too emotionally needy, & gillian dresses badly, etc etc. i don't think the reader is supposed to hate fleur...but it's hard not to. which makes me wonder what exactly the author was thinking. i know it's a trope of this kind of book to create an initially unlikeable heroine & then send her on a journey that turns her into a new woman, deserving of the happy ending that she eventually gets. but fleur never goes on the journey to becoming likeable.

& the ending is just weird. fleur somehow inspires phillipa to leave lambert. when phillipa breaks the news to lambert, he attempts to kill her. seriously. not exactly what i was expecting in a book with a pastel pink cover decorated in lipsticks & cocktails. phillipa tries to call fleur to get her advice, but fleur won't take the call because she's in the bathtub. & then she just doesn't call phillipa back. for weeks. literally. meanwhile, phillipa descends into alcoholism, lambert weasels his way back into her life, & phillipa tells no one about his on-going abuse. phillipa & lambert go to the country home for the big country club golf tournament, & phillipa tries to tell fleur what happened. fleur interrupts to get a drink & then sneaks out of the club. phillipa tries to corner fleur back at the house, but fleur is all, "not now, i have to take a bath." so phillipa goes out into the garden & attempts suicide. she is only found hours later when she fails to turn up for dinner & gillian goes looking for her. i mean, yeah, phillipa maybe could have & should have told someone other than fleur. but WTF, fleur?

anyway, richard asks fleur to marry him, fleur says she needs to go to london & think about it, zara deduces that she's actually going to london for a funeral, zara cries & freaks out, fleur comes to collect her to take her to the swiss alps home of her new mark, zara somehow...i don't know. talks fleur into staying with richard? it makes very little sense.

i am out of words to describe the plot of this utterly bizarre book. if you are a person who likes for plots & characters to have any relationship with reality, however tenuous, i advise you to skip this book. if you're okay with unrealistic characters because you just want to do some escapist reading, i also recommend that you skip this book. i really don't know who would actually like this book.
Profile Image for Joyce.
34 reviews8 followers
July 9, 2012
I really, really wanted to give this book 4 stars. If it weren't for the abrupt ending with the sooooo many loose ends which remain untied, I would have given this a much higher rating. The ending ruined EVERYTHING.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the fun, fluffy read. In fact, I was at times so absorbed by the storyline that I just couldn't put it down. Wickham gave all of her supporting characters good, solid and interesting backgrounds. Unfortunately, she failed to explore the full potential of expanding those intriguing characters. This really frustrates me.

Another thing that confuses me? Wickham kept emphasizing on Fleur's kindness. But, Fleur's attitude towards Richard's daughter, Phillipa, contradicted Wickham's own word. Fleur repeatedly found excuses to palm Phillipa off when Phillipa was most in need of comforting words and kind advice after being physically and emotionally abused by her husband who married her for her money. How is that kind???

The ending (SPOILER ALERT!!!):
I just couldn't accept the sloppiness of it. It almost seems as if Wickham got tired of her own writing and gave up mid-paragraph. Did Richard eventually got to know about Fleur's gold-digging schemes? How did Zara's first ever meeting with her biological father went? Why did Zara's biological father left in the first place? What happened between Zara and Fleur that made Fleur changed her mind entirely about leaving Richard for good? Did Fleur eventually mended her friendship with her childhood Arabian friend? What had happened that made Richard's first wife, Emily, such an apathetic and unkind person? All of these weren't answered. This is why I've got a problem with it.

Read this if you want to have a good, juicy time - This book has all the fun elements you will find in Sophie Kinsella's work. But, bear in mind that you've had fair warning about the immensely unsatisfying ending.
Profile Image for Kim.
74 reviews3 followers
March 3, 2012
The thing is that i was really interested int he story and the characters of this novel.
Richard and his mysterious dead wife, Gillian and the life she gave up,l Philippa and her hideous awful marriage , Antony, poor little sweet Antony, with his boyish imperfections and insecurities, Crazy Zara and her obsession with her father and her faked American Accent.
I liked the plot and how easy it was to read ( not that that is a standard requirement of mine, but anyone who is a fan of this author probably understands what I'm talking about). I commend the author for penning a novel about death, greiving and depresseion yet keeping the overall feel of the novel light and carefree, hopeful and optimistic.
It would have received another star however, i was confused by our main character Fleur. It seemed as though in the end, every one of the characters came to some kind of change, completed some kind of journey, but I'm not quite sure that she did.
What confused me about Fleur was that she did all of these great things for all of these people, but did she even notice? Did she even care? For expmle, she convinced Phillippa to leave her dreaded husband, but then hung her out to dry when she reached out to her. Fleur was remarkably unremorseful and unsympathetic and unchanging and yet the author suggested change at the end . . . I feel like the author should have divulged to us a little bit more about our main character and the journey she travelled through out.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Urszula.
320 reviews11 followers
January 25, 2015
This story had a great potential. I was expecting light humour, romance and lots of personal development by the main character - Fleur. What I got was a very selfish, 40+ woman, with no heart and no respect for others. Her journey was very shallow and self centred. Her goal was to use as many man as possible for as long as possible to get us much money from them as possible. She was a gold digger without morals, who didn't know what love is, what friendship is and most of all what motherhood was.

Richard - her latest victim was very nice, yet he did not ask any questions and did not consider it strange that a woman could just stay with him for months without any work or family obligation. For a person who was trying to figure out what his late wife was really, accepted Fleur very quickly without even trying to get to know her better.

I disliked Fleur from the beginning. I liked Richard and his family. Sarah made the story a bit interesting. But I though that Philiipa was pathetic, yet she had the greatest self development in this story. This book would have been much better if she was the main character and her self discovery and growth was the main focus.

The ending was simply lame. The story ended very strangely without finishing all the plots.
Profile Image for Sophie U.
107 reviews1 follower
March 16, 2022
oh my GOD that was bad lmao. I mean, I don’t know what I expected. But the characters were appalling, the plot dragged, and the events were so unlikely I just didn’t care. Fleur in particular was unbelievably dislikable, and the way she treated her daughter was insane. Also, the author deals REALLY flippantly with a physically abusive relationship?? All in all this just sucked. But I did read it.

1.5 stars

AND there weren’t even any fun sex scenes. Like, what’s the point?
Profile Image for Heather W.
837 reviews12 followers
March 26, 2018
DNF - got to around half way and still hated the main character. Skipped to the end and felt glad that I did not waste my time forcing myself to read it. Sorry I did not enjoy it as much as her other books
Profile Image for Patricia .
288 reviews49 followers
November 23, 2020
1.5 stars because the story had some potential

Yeah, this really wasn't a good read. I hated Fleur and her characters. I'd maybe forgive her if she changed (at least a little, please!!) towards the end, but she got worse.

And the ending ... No. Just no.
Profile Image for Laura.
459 reviews21 followers
May 4, 2017
Meet Fleur Daxeny. She's beautiful, charming, cunning, and more than a little ruthless. Emotionally scarred after becoming an orphan at the age of 16, she has decided on an unusual path to riches. No menial job or boring suburban housewife fate for her! Instead, she has perfected the art of "gatecrashing" ie. pretending to be a vague, long-ago friend of rich deceased women so that she can be a sympathetic ear/shoulder for the grieving husbands. One thing leads to another, and before long she is using their credit card to rack up enormous shopping sprees before moving on to her next target. Along the way she's amassed quite the collection of stylish black suits and hats.

Our story starts with her last few days with Sakis. She then attends the funeral of Emily Favour where she meets Richard. Things are complicated this time around though. Richard is romantic, but methodical, and in no hurry to take their relationship to the next level. Also, Fleur becomes entangled with his two children (28 year old Philippa and 15 year old Antony). Then there's Emily's sister Gillian who was relegated to a mere housekeeper over the years, and largely taken for granted. She blossoms with the cheerful companionship of Fleur. "Gillian sat down at her dressing table. Fleur's voice rang in her ears. A bubble of laughter was still at the back of her throat. She felt enlivened; out of breath; almost overcome. That's charm, she suddenly thought. Real charm wasn't the gushing and kisses of the frosted women at the golf club. Emily had been called a charming woman, but her eyes had held splinters of ice and her tinkling laugh had been saccharine and humorless. Fleur's eyes were warm and all-inclusive and when she laughed she made everyone else want to laugh too."

Fleur most definitely has an agenda though, despite her appearances of charm. I think one of the things that made me like The Gatecrasher was just how *unlikable* Fleur is. She's so horrid that I almost found myself rooting for her, hoping that she would get some sense knocked into her at some point. She's the opposite of "cookie-cutter" chick lit heroines. She's no damsel in distress looking for a knight to come save her. There is a damsel in distress though--Philippa. She's emotionally abused by her husband, Lambert. Philippa tries to salvage her marriage for most of the book though. "She'd almost welcomed the challenge of Helping her Husband through a Difficult Time. 'For better for worse, for richer for poorer', she'd muttered to herself several times a day. 'To love and to cherish'. Except that Lambert didn't particularly seem to want her love or her cherishing. He didn't seem to want her around at all." Fleur turns the light bulb on in Philippa's head that there might be something better for her out there. She might not have to put up with this crap after all. Fair warning that there is a somewhat graphic scene when she develops the intestinal fortitude to confront Lambert. Unfortunately, this sort of situation is reality for all too many women, and Wickham gets bonus points for bringing attention to the subject. Fleur does *not* get bonus points for ignoring Philippa's cry for help though, and I didn't quite understand why Wickham chose not to allow Fleur's character to develop like she might have.

Then there is Fleur's daughter Zara. She shows up at Richard's country estate when boarding school ends for the term, and quickly becomes friends/more than friends with Antony. She's had a privileged childhood in Fleur's opinion--living in various countries with the man of the moment, experiencing exotic things like excursions on yachts, and attending the best boarding schools. However, Zara just wants a home. Is that so much to ask? She really likes Gillian, Richard, and Antony and is petrified that Fleur is going to get what she wants, and then drag them off to the next challenge.

"Jesus," said Zara. "Like it matters! Like it means anything! It just goes into the bank and sits there. I mean, you do all this, just so every month you can look at a bunch of numbers and feel safe."
"Money is safety, darling."
"People are safety!" said Zara. "Money gets spent! But people stick around."
"No they don't," said Fleur scornfully. "People don't stick around."
"They do!" said Zara. "it's only you that doesn't stick around! You never give anyone a chance!"

Incidentally, the concept of finding security in material possessions vs. relationships is a large section of the book on minimalism that I'm reading at the moment. I found it intriguing that Wickham brought the same concept into her book. Which version of security will Fleur choose? Read and find out.

Bottom line: Other reviewers have brought up valid concerns on the believability of Richard's character, as well as the utter unlikability of Fleur. Despite these two caveats (and they are true), I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read. It's a cut above most "chick-lit" offerings, and fits the bill wonderfully if you are looking for a fluffy vacation read. My only true gripe is that the ending felt rushed and unsatisfactory. Given 3 stars or a rating of "Good."
2 reviews
July 14, 2012
Well, I didn't realize this book was from the late 90s. Oops. No biggie though. This is my first Wickham book, and I only just started reading Sophie Kinsella, so I saw it at Target and figured I'd give it a shot. The story seemed cute.

The only thing I really liked about it is was that it was in third person. And that's because I've been reading mostly first person lately, so it was nice to know what was going on in everyone's head. But that's about it.

The story was kind of disappointing.
I liked the idea behind it, but that's it. In terms of characters, Fleur is the only one who doesn't seem to progress. She's unlikeable. I tried, I really did. I thought maybe she'd soften when it came to her daughter, but nope... I'm not opposed to stories that aren't all sunshine & butterflies, but this wasn't supposed to be a brutal novel, so the coldness Fleur displayed to her daughter was hard to stomach.

It wasn't awful, but it needed something extra. It wasn't particularly funny either.
28 reviews1 follower
November 4, 2012
I absolutely LOVE Sophie Kinsella, so when I found out that that was just a pseudonym and that Madeleine Wickham had written other books, I was thrilled! I was so excited when I read the description of this book, I thought it would top most romantic comedy books I've read. It started off good, but I wasn't too drawn to Fleur, the main character. Throughout the book I kept willing it to get better, but it never did. It wasn't very funny, and it didn't really reflect on the characters pasts' much; I felt that with those particular characters, their backgrounds could've made it a more interesting read. I felt that Fleur developed negative feelings for the Favour family, instead of developing friendships and love for them. The ending was the most disappointing for me. The story just stopped on not a very positive note, and before a scene which was constantly hinted to in the book, the only scene that I was perhaps looking forward to. All in all, the story I built up in my head even before opening up the book was better than the story itself. It could've been an amazing book.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
70 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2009
Madeleine Wickham, who is Sophie Kinsella's alter auteur....is wonderfully wicked and delirious in her sophisticated writing. I loved the rather adult style of "The Gatecrasher" as the main character transforms her life over the course of a calm yet collected journey. At its heart, this story really weighs in on one woman's swinging back and forth between two ways of life. Ultimately, she certainly has a lot to lose if he follows her head and much to gain if she listens to the pure pitter-patter of her heart. It's been so long since she spoke the language of her heart that she has becomes somewhat lost in translation. It's quite an epic journey, with a whole unique set of characters along for the ride. If you love the carefree beat of Sophie Kinsella's writing, you'll fall head over heels for Madeleine Wickham's unlikely tempo and refreshing feel for high stakes. Enjoy with a cool, crisp glass of white whine and some fresh raspberries! A bientot!
Profile Image for Hayley Noble.
85 reviews7 followers
August 5, 2013
I am just going to put it out there, though I half heatedly enjoyed sleeping arrangements I do not like Sophie Kinsella writing as Madeleine Wickham.

Its not that the books are bad (though they are not good either) its just the characters are lacking any depth and the story was lazy and just sort of ends, no round up, no big build up. Nothing. It just ends, I was so shocked by this I actually checked I hadn't lost any pages. And it isnt just in the gatecrasher, I found the same in the other ones.

Although I think I may be being slightly harsh and it isn't bad, just not as good as anything she wrote as Sophie, and I don't think it would have been published if she hadn't been Sophie first.
Profile Image for Aleida Oskam.
201 reviews1 follower
May 22, 2016
Eindelijk! Een anderhalve maand later heb ik dit boek uit. Ik dacht bij het aanschaffen van dit boek. "Ik vind de boeken van Sophie Kinsella altijd wel leuk dus als ze onder haar eigen naam schrijft moeten ze toch ook wel leuk zijn" Niets is minder waar. Ik vond dit boek erg tegenvallen. Op de één of andere manier wist het verhaal me niet te pakken. En het einde vond ik ook erg open. Toch sta ik nog open voor een ander boek ook onder haar eigen naam geschreven want ik ben wel van mening dat je pas kunt oordelen als je 2 of meer boeken hebt gelezen van een schrijver. Desalniettemin blijf ik wel fan van de boeken die ze onder haar pseudoniem schrijft.
Profile Image for Love Fool.
282 reviews117 followers
April 21, 2014
Have to be honest, I prefer Sophie Kinsella to Madeleine Wickham (yes, I know they are the same person). This book kept me entertained when I was stuck at the dentist's office however, I was at the dentist and waiting for a while so I think anything would have kept my attention. I think this book was ok, nothing amazing. Read Sophie Kinsella's books before you read Madeleine Wickham's books because Sophie's books are 100% better.
Profile Image for Mitty Finholdt.
185 reviews12 followers
May 8, 2021
[meme do jerry apertando os olhos]

Já faz algum tempo que as pessoas costumam usar a frase "parece fanfic" de forma pejorativa para falar mal de um livro. Bem, devo dizer que já li MUITA fanfic melhor e mais bem estruturada que Rainha dos Funerais.

Vamos do início: Este livro foi escrito e publicado em 2007, porém só veio para o Brasil este ano, sendo divulgado como se fosse mesmo de 2021. A primeira decepção veio aí mas tudo bem, pensei, mesmo que seja mais velho, talvez ainda seja bom, afinal já li muito livro mais antigo que era excelente. O caso não se aplicou aqui.

Nossa protagonista é Fleur, uma vigarista que invade funerais para se aproveitar do luto dos ricaços e então rouba dinheiro deles. Porque ela faz isso? Bem, há essa altura do campeonato, nem ela mesmo sabe. Até que um dia ela se vê se apaixonando (?) por uma de suas vítimas e acaba se envolvendo bem mais do que deveria. Sabe, eu já li fanfics da Mulher-Gato que explorou melhor essa parada de se apaixonar pelo cara que você está querendo roubar. O que nos leva ao mocinho, Richard. O cara precisou se encontrar no funeral da esposa para perceber que não fazia ideia de quem ela era. Fleur se aproveita disso e diz que ela conhecia um pouco a falecida Emily e que poderia falar sobre ela, se ele quisesse. Essa conversa alguma vez é mostrada? Não. Então vem a família do Richard, que assiste essa total estranha invadir o espaço deles e... aceitam ela? O leitor tem que acreditar que a Fleur esbanja carisma, porque quando está no ponto de vista de qualquer um da família, eles enxergam ela como a Mulher Perfeita, mas quando NÓS estamos na mente da Fleur... Antipática seria a palavra que eu usaria.

Quando chamo esse livro de superficial, eu não estou sendo exagerada. Nenhum dos personagens são desenvolvidos direito, nenhum deles parece sequer estar vivo. 2/3 do livro absolutamente nada de relevante acontece, com tantas cenas sendo jogadas, prometendo um desenvolvimento que nunca veio. Quando chamo esse livro de fanfic, quero dizer que o autor presumiu que eu já conhecia todos os personagens e eles não precisavam ser mais desenvolvidos do que o básico. Quero dizer que o enredo não tinha um objetivo claro até os /93% do livro/. Quero ressaltar que nem mesmo a autora parecia saber o que fazer com os personagens e enfiou o final mais apressado e súbito que já vi porque queria acabar logo com isso. Sério, quando eu virei a página e vi que o livro acabou, passei uns 10 segundos encarando a tela em branco do meu kindle sem acreditar que ESSE foi o final.

É ruim me repetir mas até mesmo a relação dos personagens com a Emily é mal feita. Emily é retratada na memória de todos como uma vaca sem coração que fazia fronte de mulher quieta e amável, e não tem nada mais além disso. São tantos assuntos sérios citados e mal explorados que me senti ofendida. Quantas fanfics no ao3 que já li que exploraram melhor a psique dos personagens confrontados com esses assuntos? Slutshaming, hipersexualidade, bullying, anorexia (?), negligência parental, luto por alguém ideal e não quem a pessoa realmente era, ressentimentos familiar, relacionamento abusivo, tentativa de suicídio... Isso porque o livro está na categoria de humor. Humor! RÁ!

Se eu tivesse mais saco e disposição, teria anotado /todas/ as brechas que o livro deu para possíveis plots a serem desenvolvidos, mas acredite em mim que foram VÁRIOS. Parecia que a autora jogava esses "vem aí" e no final eram tantos "vem aí" que ela não sabia qual desenvolver direito e no final veio nada.

Acho importante ressaltar que minha imagem da autora não foi manchada, todo mundo começa de algum lugar e como eu disse, é muito importante lembrar que esse foi um dos primeiros livros dela, antes mesmo do pseudônimo Sophie Kinsella vir a existir. A narrativa e estruturas dela melhoraram muito e isso é claro ao ler o livro. Não recomendo para leitores nem velhos e nem novos - simplesmente passe em branco
Profile Image for Krummbein.
67 reviews10 followers
January 6, 2018
Ich habe schon viel gutes über Sophie Kinsella gehört, und war deshalb schon sehr auf dieses Buch gespannt. Doch leider hat es mir nicht gefallen. Überhaupt nicht.

Fleur besucht Beerdingungfeiern um sich an die Witwer heranzumachen und an ihr Geld zu kommen. Nachdem sie sich ein schönes Leben gemacht hat haut sie wieder ab. Die Story beginnt als sie den einen Mann verlässt und sich auf zum nächsten - Richard- macht, der dann doch ganz anders ist alle anderen Männer..
Ich habe das Buch schon ewig Zuhause liegen und konnte mich gar nicht mehr an den groben Inhalt erinnern. Jetzt im Nachhein frage ich mich wirklich warum ich das Buch gekauft habe, denn schon vom Klappentext hätte ich erkennen müssen dass es wahrscheinlich nichts für mich ist.

Die Charaktere fühlen sich flach an und waren einfach nur klischeehaft. Die guten Charakteren waren durch und durch gut und die schlechten einfach nur schlecht. Kein Charakter hatte eine tiefe und ich konnte mich in keinen einzigen wirklich hineinversetzen.
Was ich am meisten an dem hasste war, dass von Richards toter Frau immer wieder negative Eigenschaften aufgedekt wurden. Es wurde nie im positiven über sie nachgedacht und es gab auch keine wirkliche Trauerzeit. Sie wurde nur dazu benützt um Fleur besser dastehen zu lassen und um zu zeigen wie viel besser die Familie jetzt dran ist. Gegen Ende des Buches wurde ich deswegen schon fast aggressiv weil ich es so unverschämt finde, tote Menschen in so einem Licht darzustellen.

Zusammenfassend kann ich sagen dass mir das absolut nicht gefallen hat und ich es auch nicht weiterempfehlen kann.
Profile Image for Kayy_028.
13 reviews
May 9, 2022
This book seems airy and funny, but really shows how strange one's thinking can be.

When reading I really liked the main character Fleur and I was rooting for her. On the other hand, I hated the person of Lambert, who only got married to his wife Philippa, so would share in her inheritment later on.

Fleur, however, is no better than him. She also wants a man only to make her rich, and even worse, leave the man when she's got enough money.

Even though I enjoyed reading the book, I give it tree stars because I didn't really like ending and I was hoping to find out a little bit more about Fleurs intentions and the future of the characters.
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