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Parties make a great start to a novel, and are a very useful set-piece. People are brought together, social interaction intensified and scrutinised, emotions heightened and inhibitions eased, with much potential for ensuing tension and drama. Milestones are marked, celebrated or lamented, inviting contemplation, invoking memories, and prompting decisions. So, let’s get the party started….
· At a barbeque in suburban Melbourne, one dad reprimands the misbehaving three-year-old son of another, and The Slap has enormous and unforeseen consequences in Christos Tsiolkas’ novel.
· We follow Mrs Dalloway over the course of a day as she prepares to host a party in Virginia Woolf’s novel.
· A parallel narrative structure begins with a birthday get-together and an adulterous kiss, or its absence, in Lionel Shriver’s The Post-birthday World.
· The hedonism of the Jazz Age is lushly represented in one soiree after another in The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, in which the pursuit of wealth and pleasure epitomises an unattainable American Dream.
· A gathering is held in a swanky New York penthouse during the catastrophic blizzard of 1978 in The Blizzard Party by Jack Livings, while a wealthy man plans his suicide.
· A house party at the Chimneys estate, hosted by Sir Oswalde and Lady Coote, drags some jolly young people into murder and conspiracy in The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie.
· Stella is the Queen Bee of a wealthy London enclave, and she’s planning her lavish wedding in the novel by Jane Fallon, but an interloper seems to have designs on her fiancé.
· A sweet-sixteen sleepover goes horribly wrong in The Party by Robyn Harding, and a tragic accident unravels the lives of a picture-perfect family.
· A group of people heading to a house party are delayed by fog and end up staying four hours in a hotel, in Party Going by Henry Green.