The Wedding People

A Novel

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Pub Date 30 Jul 2024 | Archive Date 30 Aug 2024
Henry Holt & Company, Henry Holt and Co.


A propulsive and uncommonly wise novel about one unexpected wedding guest and the surprising people who help us start anew.

It's a beautiful day in Newport, Rhode Island, when Phoebe Stone arrives at the grand Cornwall Inn wearing a green dress and gold heels, not a bag in sight, alone. She's immediately mistaken by everyone in the lobby for one of the wedding people, but she’s actually the only guest at the Cornwall who isn’t here for the big event. Phoebe is here because she’s dreamt of coming for years—she hoped to shuck oysters and take sunset sails with her husband, only now she's here without him. Meanwhile, the bride has accounted for every detail and every possible disaster the weekend might yield except for, well, Phoebe—which makes it that much more surprising when the women can’t stop confiding in each other.

In turns uproariously, absurdly funny and devastatingly tender, Alison Espach's The Wedding People is a look at the winding paths we can take to places we never imagined—and the chance encounters it sometimes takes to reroute us.

A propulsive and uncommonly wise novel about one unexpected wedding guest and the surprising people who help us start anew.

It's a beautiful day in Newport, Rhode Island, when Phoebe Stone arrives at...

Advance Praise

The Wedding People is a wickedly funny and deeply satisfying novel about a woman with nothing to lose, armed with a green dress, some chocolate wine, and a coconut pillow, cut loose to cause delightful mayhem. It's a story of lovers who turn into strangers, strangers who turn into friends, and the weird and wonderful connections that make us feel truly alive. I loved it.”—Jenny Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Pineapple Street

“Alison Espach! How does she do it? I mean, really--how? The Wedding People is so utterly, ringingly true it feels less like fiction than like a field guide to personhood. It's so funny and romantic that I sometimes laughed out loud and sometimes got actual goosebumps. I tore through it like I didn't have a disordered deficit of attention. It's a perfect novel. I loved it.”  —Catherine Newman, author of We All Want Impossible Things

“Is this my favorite book ever? I think it might just be. This novel was truly unputdownable and is an absolute must read. A book about being at the lowest of lows and life just won't relent but then a little unexpected sliver of light that becomes everything. Stunning. Wonderful. Every description for perfection, this novel earns them all.” —Kaitlin Smith-Cook, Copperfield's Books, Healdsburg, CA

The Wedding People has some of the most compelling characters I have ever met in a novel. Sharp and witty dialog, perfectly written characters, and a beautifully immersive setting, work to make this a book that everyone will be talking about. Brilliant work from Alison Espach!” —Mary O'Malley, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, MO

The Wedding People offers a glimpse into what can happen when you stop pursuing the expectations for what you think your life is supposed to be. This is a story of love, honesty, and discovering happiness.” —Bob Lingle, Good Neighbor Bookstore, Lakewood, NY

“I adored every page of this remarkable novel! As she did in Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance, Alison Espach lays bare her characters’ hopes, expectations, and insecurities with humor, tenderness and grace. Through the voices of Phoebe, Lila, Gary and Jim, Espach reveals the risks in dreaming, the sacrifices of settling, and the rewards of being true to yourself. I would spend a week with The Wedding People again and again!” —Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

 “Alison Espach is back with another gorgeous novel about relationships and grief that’s both devastating and funny. An insightful, big-hearted, and life-affirming tragicomedy that explores the redemptive power of unexpected connections, The Wedding People is a brilliant follow up to Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance and a perfect choice for fans of Fredrik Backman's Anxious People.” —Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books, Beverly, MA    

“A weeklong wedding in Newport, Rhode Island? What could go wrong? Well, everything. And that is the beauty of this touching story of love, loss, and family. The dialogue is perfect. Get your fancy clothes out and prepare for something you are not expecting. And then raise a toast to a wonderful book.” —Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX  

"A picturesque seaside town with gorgeous sunny weather and a group of flawed people that remind you of your best friend, your aunt, your annoying co-worker, and that cousin on your dad’s side. The Wedding People by Alison Espach takes these flawed people and shows their humility, tenderness, quirks, and search for happiness. Finding your way is difficult, and it takes introspection or simply a dear friend who’s a good listener to call you out. I found myself laughing at Lila’s monologue and her constant interruptions and bossiness endearing since she’s completely opposite of my personality! Enjoy a lemony palate cleanser after six days of wedding festivities and a satisfying ending!” —Sara Rishforth, Roundabout Bookshop, Bend, OR

"This book absolutely blew me away. I was unsure what to expect as I haven’t read any of Alison Espach’s work before but she will now be an “auto-buy” author for me. The Wedding People at its heart, is a book about grief. Nothing lasts forever, but when things end, what comes next? This book is deeply funny, achingly profound, and so immersive that I read it in one sitting. I think this would make an incredible book club pick as well!” —Alison Cave, The Wandering Jellyfish Bookshop, Niwot, CO

"Readers will be begging for an invitation to meet The Wedding People. Alison Espach's novel soars to the heights of high humor. and swoops to poignancy and pathos in this brilliant wedding drama. Filled with unforgettable characters and a riveting plot, you will want to get your champagne glass ready to toast one of the best books of 2024!” —Pamela Klinger-Horn, Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, MN

The Wedding People is a wickedly funny and deeply satisfying novel about a woman with nothing to lose, armed with a green dress, some chocolate wine, and a coconut pillow, cut loose to cause...

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ISBN 9781250899576
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Featured Reviews

THE WEDDING PEOPLE ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫/5. Phoebe’s life is in shambles. When she decides to go to a hotel 1,000 miles away from her home to be alone, to find out she is the only guest not there for a wedding that is happening in the grounds. Somehow she becomes involved in the wedding and the people attending. A story of loss, love, heartache, bringing life back together, art, passion, self-realization. I really enjoyed this one and hope it’s a hit.

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I feel like words cannot express how perfectly unperfect this novel was. Phoebe is one of the best well written characters that I've encountered this year. When a character truly leaps off the pages and speaks to your mind, humor and heart, you buckle in no matter what the outcome and I'm glad I read this. Families are hard, people are hard, but soldiering on everyday to try this thing called life and maybe make some friends along the way is what keeps us going. No notes, this book was PERFECT.

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This book is absolutely phenomenal. I truly never wanted it to end. Phoebe is unhappy with every part of her life when she heads to the grand Cornwall Inn with a plan. Once she arrives, she quickly realizes that everyone else at the inn is there for a wedding and her objective starts to shift. I found it to be such a relatable story of connection and friendship. Phoebe shows how important and powerful it is to find your own voice. I am honestly tempted to immediately reread it to savor the perfection.

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"She is so good at predicting what will happen in books, so bad at predicting what will happen in life. That is why she has always preferred books - because to be alive is much harder." - Alison Espach, "The Wedding People"

"The Wedding People" by Alison Espach is a delightful contemporary fiction tale that, for me, mirrors the uplifting spirit of beloved movies like The Holiday and P.S. I Love You. Espach effortlessly blends lighthearted humor, romance, and fun banter with underlying themes that explores life's dificulties. The story unfolds in the picturesque setting of Newport, Rhode Island, where Phoebe Stone finds herself mistakenly embraced as an unexpected wedding guest at the grand Cornwall Inn. Utterly alone, Phoebe embarks on an unexpected journey of self-discovery.

Alison Espach's knack for phenomenal character development shines through in this messy family drama. The flawed yet relatable Phoebe and a cast of intriguing characters add depth and authenticity to the narrative, making it a rare gem in the realm of lighthearted novels. The pacing of the story is impeccable, maintaining a delightful flow that propels readers forward with each page turn. An early reveal in the novel had turning the pages to see what happened next.

Espach's writing style is a standout feature, characterized by lovely and accessible prose. The dialogue, in particular, contributes to the book's overall charm. The artistry of the story is most fantastic. “The Wedding People” expertly navigates the intricate world of weddings which is what attracted me to this novel in the first place as I work in the wedding industry. The narrative not only entertains with its humor and romance but also delivers a meaningful exploration of unexpected encounters and the potential for new beginnings. It's a captivating story that I think will be on the top of many peoples favorite romance novels of 2024.

Emotionally resonant, "The Wedding People" elicits a full spectrum of feelings. Empathy for characters grappling with trauma and heartbreak coexists with a sense of hopefulness. The beautifully written conclusion, though not overtly sad, leaves a lasting impact and had me in literal tears, a testament to Espach's ability to craft a narrative that emotionally connects with readers.

SPOILER ALERT: This novel explores sensitive topics like suicide, infertility, cancer, death of a spouse, and infidelity.

Altogether, "The Wedding People" is an absolute gem that offers a vibrant and emotionally resonant experience, making it a must-read for those seeking a captivating contemporary fiction read. In recommendations, "The Wedding People" finds its place within women's fiction, appealing to those who already appreciate the genre of romantic comedies and dramas. As for constructive criticism, none applies; the book delivers precisely what it sets out to achieve, earning it a well-deserved 5-star rating.

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