The Gatecrasher Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 7 CDs (9 hours)
Read by Katherine Kellgren

Most chick lit follows the same general formula, with the same standard characters. There’s usually a sweet, vulnerable heroine who’s unlucky in love. Then along comes the hero—a beautiful rascal of a man whose troubled past has him running from commitment. But in The Gatekeeper by Madeleine Wickham (a.k.a. Sophie Kinsella), it’s exactly the opposite.

This time, she’s commitment-phobic. Fleur Daxeny doesn’t really care about love; she cares about money. For Fleur, money means security—both for herself and her daughter, Zara. So she goes from funeral to funeral, looking for rich, vulnerable men. In exchange for the companionship they need, she ends up walking away with the money that she needs.

Her latest conquest is Richard Favour, a rich widower who’s just lost the love of his life. In Fleur, he finds comfort and companionship. Fleur, meanwhile, sets out to work her way into Richard’s life—and, she hopes, his bank account. It’s taking longer than usual—but, for once, she doesn’t mind. Maybe her time with Richard and his family is just what she needs before moving on to someone bigger and better.

The Gatecrasher is an unexpected contemporary romance with a less-than-likeable heroine. While the hurts in Fleur’s past make her hesitation, her fear of commitment, and her need for security understandable, that still doesn’t justify her behavior. When it all comes down to it, she’s a con artist—and that makes her difficult to love.

Fortunately, though, most of the other characters are much more likeable. Richard is sweet and thoughtful—and although he doesn’t have much of a personality, you’ll still care about him. You’ll want better for him than Fleur—and you’ll keep hoping that he’ll figure Fleur out before it’s too late. The rest of the family is oddly lovable, too—from adorably awkward teenager Antony to desperately insecure Phillipa, who’s married to her own gold-digger, Lambert. All of the members of the Favour family have their own storylines, which helps to distract the attention away from Fleur.

Meanwhile, Wickham’s easy-going style, mixed with reader Katherine Kellgren’s elegant delivery, makes for a light and undemanding audiobook. The story isn’t complex or involved, so you can easily listen while driving without getting too distracted. My only complaint with the recording, then, is that there’s nothing to signify the end of each disc—so you may end up replaying the beginning for a while before you realize that you’ve already heard it.

Written with a lightly humorous touch and populated with a family full of sympathetic supporting characters, The Gatecrasher is an enjoyable audiobook. Fleur may be a frustrating main character—but, overall, it’s still an entertaining way to pass the time on your next road trip or on your daily commute.

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