One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honor of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savory survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor - and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief.
The cook toils over mock turtle soup and a chocolate cake covered with green sugar roses, which the hungry band of visitors is not invited to taste. But nothing, it seems, will go according to plan. As the passengers wearily search for rest, the house undergoes a strange transformation. One of their number (who is most definitely not a gentleman) makes it his business to join the birthday revels.
Evening turns to stormy night, and a most unpleasant parlor game threatens to blow respectability to smithereens: Smudge Torrington, the wayward youngest daughter of the house, decides that this is the perfect moment for her Great Undertaking.
The Uninvited Guests is the bewitching new novel from the critically acclaimed Sadie Jones. The prizewinning author triumphs in this frightening yet delicious drama of dark surprises - where social codes are uprooted and desire daringly trumps propriety - and all is alight with Edwardian wit and opulence.
©2012 Sadie Jones (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
Reader. Wannabe writer. That's a picture of me standing in line to see Stephen King!
In many ways Uninvited Guests is a comedy of manners, particularly British in its wit and depreciating sense of humor.
The Torrington household is preparing to celebrate the 20th birthday of their eldest daughter, Emerald. At the same time, Charlotte, Em’s mother, is anxious about the state of Sterne, and whether or not she and her children will be able to stay in the house much longer. Her husband, Edward, leaves on the day of the party to negotiate a home loan in town. That’s the set up. And it’s all very dramatic comedy with some upstairs-downstairs conventions and budding romances among the young people, but things change when there’s word of an accident “on the branch line,” and Charlotte’s past, quite literally, comes knocking on the door!
The Uninvited Guests is quiet and funny and creepy all at once, and I found it to be an enjoyable listen. I have only two criticisms: first, while Kate Reading did a fabulous job for the most part, her interpretations of some of the character affectations seemed a bit off to me. Also, like some other reviewers, I felt the pony situation, though it started off being funny, went on longer than it needed.
Still, if you’re in the mood for turn of the century wit and a bit of the supernatural you could do worse than The Uninvited Guests.
It seemed like the author was attempting to try something different but wasn't comfortable with the genre (it's an attempt at a ghost story that just doesn't quite come together.)
Great narration, though.
Near the top and that's saying something. I listen to many classics.
Sadie Jones writes about family here--how big it is. Who is in? How do people get left out--or maybe ejected? What happens that might enlarge our idea of family boundaries? The characters are distinctive and their attributes drive the story, as should it should be. I love the funny, dark aspect of the railway accident "blasted survivors" who are somewhere in the big old house as the family dynamic plays itself out. I kept thinking how I'd like to see this story on stage, or well-produced, on screen.
The coaxing of the pony down the stairs by all the family and the travelers, too.
Who can say Charlotte is more memorable than her neglected daughter Smudge? They are a memorable pair.
I will certainly look for other works by this writer. She doesn't skimp on character, but goes deep and real, so the story touches the reader in lasting ways.
There were really three books in this one book....and none of them had any real effect on the other. There was the 'romance' part, there was the 'ghost part, and there was the little girl with the pony part. And they flipped back and forth so it was hard to hold a thought.
The writing was ponderous and at times pretentious and rather than move the plot along, it slogged, and slogged. The use of similies became overpowering and useless....again, dragging the plot down. I think I kept reading it hoping it would turn out better, but it never did and at the end it was so bad, it was almost good in its badness.
I'm looking forward to Beautiful Ruins
Oh dear.....which ones? The pony perhaps? None of the characters were at all likeable, but not so unlikeable that they were interesting
I think I've said it all.
every time I thought I understood, something totally different occured. At the end, not a bad story but I wouldn't waste a credit on it
because, as Ken Follett says, "If anything can happen, where's the suspense?" But this one caught me unawares. The writing is delicious, and the supernatural elements not only didn't ruin the plot, they were sort of an amusing sideshow. I look forward to reading much more from this most engaging British author.
Loved the voiced characterizations because it added depth to each personality, so I preferred the audio version.
The best moment in the book is the actual dinner party. Even though I was appalled by the guests behavior, it was visceral enough to be memorable.
The character voices in the audio version are spot on, and make it particularly entertaining.
Clearer storytelling, I found the whole thing a bit fuzzy, wasn't really sure where the author was going with characters or storyline
Developed her plot better, this story really jumped around, not much character development
Nothing stands out, it was all a bit farfetched
Nope, this was not a very entertaining read
I loved the character of Smudge, the eccentric younger daughter.
Excellent narator. Her voice brought the book to life.
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