The Unwedding

Image of The Unwedding: Reese’s Book Club Pick (A Novel)
Release Date: 
June 4, 2024
Grand Central Publishing
Reviewed by: 

Not long before Ellery and Luke Wainwright were to embark upon a dream 20th wedding anniversary trip to Broken Point, an exorbitantly expensive and extremely remote luxury resort in Big Sur, California, he undergoes a change of heart. About their marriage, about being with her, and the direction his life is going in. He moves out and is now living with a younger woman. But Luke, usually selfish and self-absorbed, suggests she should still go. After all, their money is non-refundable and so Ellery, at the urging of her best friend and fellow high school teacher, does just that.

But she’s lonely and heartbroken and still hopeful Luke might change his mind. And though the resort is everything she expected and more, she feels utterly destroyed. Of course, it doesn’t help there’s a wedding taking place. Seeing the beautiful bride and handsome groom and all their young and lovely entourage enjoying this special time only increases her sense of aloneness as she remembers the love and happiness she had expected of her wedding.

And then the rains come. But the heavy sheets of water descending from the dark gray skies don’t keep Ellen from rising early in the morning and heading to the pool. There she discovers a body and realizes it’s the groom still dressed in his wedding attire from the day before.

“She yelled again, as she hoisted him up the stairs and onto the flagstones next to the pole,” writes author Ally Condie in her description of Ellery's reaction to finding the body. “She tried not to notice how his legs dragged across the pool's edge.


“No one.

“She couldn't bring herself to look at his face again, but she felt like she could hear the rain on it as she ran. She raced toward the main house, her bare feet slipping, shouting it over and over. Help!

“But she already knew. Even as her mouth formed one word her brain said another. Gone! And she thought, not again.”

As the story moves along, we get glimmers of what “not again” means to Ellery until we finally learn what happened the night when Ellery was returning aboard a school bus after a sporting event: an accident overturned the vehicle. Among the injured is a dying girl, and Ellery comforts with reassurances that her mother will be there shortly, something that isn’t true as they’re still far from home.

She tells her how much her mother loves her over and over again holding her hand until she is gone. Ellery, the mother of three, has never been able to forget those moments, though at times she’s able to push them further into the back of her mind. Now, finding Ben’s body, she again feels the overwhelming sense of helplessness and loss from that time.

Ben’s death is only the first of the mysterious deaths that occur over the next few days.

Help isn’t on the way. The torrential rains cause landslides making the roads impassable. The electricity goes out and generators provide just weak lighting. There’s no internet.

In other words, all the staff and guests at the resort are in danger except that is, the one who is committing the murders.