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An Unexpected Guest: A Novel
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An Unexpected Guest: A Novel

3.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,391 Ratings  ·  259 Reviews
Clare Moorhouse, the American wife of a high-ranking diplomat in Paris, is arranging an official dinner crucial to her husband's career. As she shops for fresh stalks of asparagus and works out the menu and seating arrangements, her day is complicated by the unexpected arrival of her son and a random encounter with a Turkish man, whom she discovers is a suspected terrorist ...more
ebook, 280 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 1992)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 27, 2015 Fionnuala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The visionaries of our time, Apple and Microsoft, have opened up our world, and our lives are now given over to internet screens. I am grateful for the timing that has allowed me to be part of this world festival of fact and fiction.
Yes, I am happy to read newspapers online, to listen to music via a screen, to search for information at the click of a button, to communicate, to check the time or the weather, to read and write in virtual print, to store my life in the cloud.
We live in the bright
May 09, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read the dust jacket to this book and thought it sounded intriguing. So I brought it home. I started reading about Clare, an American wife of a British diplomat. In the beginning, we find out that her husband is to be hosting a dinner party later that day and Clare must organize the staff and shop for the soiree. Aside from random bogus French phrases that sound totally forced and out of place (in spite of the fact the setting is Paris), the story moves quite slowly through Clare's day. And I ...more
May 13, 2013 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It takes about one hundred pages for this book to get interesting. And then it gets boring again. And then it gets exciting for a few more pages. And then it gets boring again.

As a warning to books I’ll be reading in the coming weeks: If you spare more than a sentence or two on hair appointments, flower arranging, or cheese selection, you might end up getting chucked at the wall.

There’s a really good story lurking within these pages. Clare Moorehouse is the wife of a British diplomat, and An Une
Dale Harcombe
I was drawn into the story from the start wondering why Clare wanted to forget Ireland existed. What had happened that she carried so much guilt?
The story takes place in Paris when Clare has one day as a diplomat’s wife to pull together a dinner party crucial to her husband. If he gets the appointment though it will take her back to Ireland and she never wanted to go there again. The reader is treated to all the preparations throughout the day for the dinner party as well as flashbacks to Irela
Oct 13, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book for two reasons: the plot itself unfolds in a day's time and weaves together both present day and what happened 25 years ago in the life of the heroine. Clare Moorehouse, an American married to a high ranking, British diplomat, is charged with the unexpected preparations for a dinner party that can (and probably will) have a direct influence on her husband's next posting.

In the course of one day, she has to take care of the endless details for this dinner, and wrestle with even
Gale Martin
Apr 03, 2012 Gale Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful read. The backdrop of an ambassador's/expat's life is grand and so appealing. And yet it is a story of small but vital changes that a woman makes, often in midlife, when beset with circumstances outside her control. I literally wept at the end--authentic, touching, beautiful in a small, controlled way. I just loved Clare. Not a perfect person but so winning. I just hate the expectation that fictional women somehow have to be petulant or tiger mothers to be appealing characte ...more
Apr 23, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I knew French, as a lot of the dialogue is in French, but even without, I moved through this novel quickly and gained a greater understanding of what a diplomat’s life is like. Clare Moorhouse is the American wife of a British Minister in Paris. As she plans an important dinner party for her husband, things happen causing her to make some important choices. The book is about youthful bravado and foolishness, family loyalty, life in the Foreign Service and ultimately about maturity an
Feb 11, 2012 Eva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extraordary! I couldn't put it down. Korkeakivi transported me into a world I didn't know, the world of diplomacy and political intrigue. In the midst of this lies a marraige and a compelling and dangerous love story. A beautifully written page turner.
Kieran Scott
Jun 11, 2012 Kieran Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's nice when I'm surprised by a book's ending! Thought this one was going the other way (she said, trying not to give anything away). Good read.
An Unexpected Guest
Ad esser sincera sarebbero più due stelline e mezza che mi sento generosa. Lo stile e la scrittura del libro sono notevoli, ma purtroppo la storia in sè è insipida e non decolla. Tutto si svolge nell'arco di una singola giornata, tanto fitta di eventi da risultare quasi paradossale. A Clare, la protagonista, succede davvero di tutto in 24 ore. Tutto quello che accade, però, non riesce a coinvolgere il lettore, lo lascia quasi indifferente. Talmente indifferente che, a
Apr 18, 2012 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC of this book through Goodreads and was excited at the thought of diving in. Ever since I visited Paris with a school group tour in my teens, I dreamed of living and working there, specifically at the American Embassy.

Life, however, had other plans for me. But thirty years later, I still wondered what a diplomat's life could have been like, especially in Paris. Anna Korkeakivi's delightful book helped me fill that void and drew me in, letting me re-experience the sights and sou
Pensavo fosse amore e invece era un calesse.
Questo è quello che è successo a me! Pensavo di leggere un libro bellissimo ed invece l'ho trovato lento, contorto ed ho fatto fatica a concentrarmi e ad apprezzarlo fino alla fine.
Ho aspettato una svolta, un picco, ma niente...
La storia è narrata dal punto di vista della protagonista Clare ed è ambientato a Parigi; si svolge nell'arco temporale di un giorno, da una mattina all'altra, interrotta spesso da flashback che riguardano il passato della donna
Hmm. I wanted to love this book. The premise is interesting: American expat Clare, married to second-in-command at the UK embassy, living in Paris, is forced to host a dinner party after the UK ambassador takes ill. The dinner frames a narrative that goes all over the place, from flashbacks to Clare's university days and a 'horrible' thing she did to a rather bizarre subplot featuring a Turkish man accused of a crime he didn't commit. But it rambled a bit too much and I found myself skimming lar ...more
I enjoyed this slow paced novel that is "an eventful day in the life of Clare" the American wife of a British diplomat in Paris. I enjoyed the descriptions of Paris, the diplomatic routines, the wife's work as a museum translator, and other details of daily life. There's a couple more stories going on here -- a backstory of Clare's longago summer romance with a young IRA member who coaxed her into helping him with smuggling money into Ireland and the troubles of Jamie, her 15 year old son. The b ...more
May 22, 2012 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having lived in Paris, I was excited to read this book. I totally enjoyed revisiting the markets and the daily routines of those lucky enough to live in that beautiful city. Korkeavkivi's Parisian descriptions are captivating. She is truly a gifted author. The entire story occurs in a day (and it was an event-packed day for Clare Morehouse), yet it dragged in parts. I am not sure I could compare it to Mrs. Dalloway, as others have. I guess I expected to love it and I just liked it, so I was disa ...more
Sep 13, 2015 Shan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to give this 2.5 stars instead of my current 2 - at least I finished it.

First, the good stuff:
The story itself was pretty good - a woman's past catches up on her while she prepares for a dinner party, thrown to improve her husband's odds of career advancement.
I liked that it's set in the post-911 world, and the protagonist, Irish-American Clare is being haunted by her role in having helped the IRA in her younger days. Her fears of her past are amplified throughout the day as preparati
Jul 22, 2015 christa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So much depends upon a reconfigured dinner party, now, at the last minute, to be hosted by the wife of a British diplomat believed to be up for an ambassadorship in Ireland, if. But, Ireland?! Clare Moorhouse has memories of the time she spent there as a college student -- and we’re not talking archived video footage from spring break in Cabo.

Rather, the now purposefully beige protagonist at the center of Anne Korkeakivi’s novel An Unexpected Guest was, long ago, tangled in love, politics and po
Susan Clark-cook
An interesting look into the heart of a woman examining her life & the consequences of actions taken or not taken& the strangeness of life and where it can take you. It is also a meditation of sorts on love and where that can take us and the lenghts we go for love and because of love. It also looks deep into the way the heart holds on to thing like guilt, fears, regrets and ultimately hope. The one hissed I have and this might not bother some but I found it a source of minor irritation a ...more
Oct 25, 2013 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book more than I thought I would at first. There is a lot of detail that made me think being in the State Department would make me completely crazy. It would be hard to imagine a more boring life if it revolved around dinner party after dinner party, sweater sets, and being completely inoffensive in every respect. I wouldn't be able to do that in a million years.

I like her writing style, and would probably read something by her in the future.
This story is a day in the life of Clare Moorehouse, an American wife to a British diplomat posted in Paris. On this day she is organizing a dinner with dignitaries and she is seeing to every detail to make the evening successful.

Throughout the 24-hour period we learn of Clare's life before she met her diplomat husband and how her past could jeopardize his position. We go with her through the streets of Paris on her every errand before her dinner party. When her son is suspended from his boardin
An interesting story about a pivotal day in the life of Clare, the Irish-American wife of a British diplomat posted in Paris. She's haunted by something she did during her college days, her youngest son is experiencing major problems, and she has less than 24 hours to pull off a major dinner party when her husband's boss takes ill. Korkeakivi is an insightful writer. This story was more thought-provoking than I expected it to be.
Lois Flatley
This book moved slowly through 24 hours of an ex-patriot American woman's life in Paris. I enjoyed the descriptions of diplomatic life but the heroine, Clare Moorhouse is just too passive to be very interesting. I did like the ending that rid her of her guilt of an incident connecting her to supplying money to the IRA but I found her relationship with her diplomat husband Edward totally unrealistic.
An Unexpected Guest is a captivating, character-driven exploration of guilt and redemption, of secrets and confessions, written with a style that’s as elegant as its posh Parisian setting.

Read the full review at
Aug 28, 2014 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's really 2-1/2 because I couldn't reconcile the parts of Clare's personality. She was almost a "Faces of Eve" between the flashbacks and the present. The scenes with her son also failed to ring true. The story arcs of the lover and the Turk were both too far-fetched, as well. And there's a time "break" on the last couple of pages that bugged me and should have been caught in proofing. What I liked were the descriptions of Paris, the push/pull between Clare and Mathilde, and husband Edward, wh ...more
Richda Mcnutt
Jun 23, 2012 Richda Mcnutt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clare strives for near-perfection as the wife of an American diplomat currently assigned to Paris. She has a busy day ahead of her as the hostess of a dinner party - an unexpected dinner party with quite short notice. The menu and food must be carefully planned, bought, prepared; staff must be assigned, placated, cajoled, praised; seating arrangements must be thoughtfully assigned; her appearance must be tasteful, stylish, and beyond reproach. So much to do with extreme precision. And then the i ...more
Aug 22, 2012 Diane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The one word that comes to mind immediately is s-l-o-w. I didn't realize this takes place in the course of one day. However, it seems the minutiae of Clare's life moves along at a snail's pace. In contrast, I read a 3 page article in "Flying" magazine about a crop duster whose plane landed in a bayou. He writes of his inner dialogue, sometimes second by second, and within the confines of a magazine article, it didn't drag. The book, for me, did. I also got frustrated with Clare, how she made a s ...more
Allizabeth Collins

Not every book has to be fast-paced in order to be entertaining, however, a slight increase in tempo would have been a welcome addition to An Unexpected Guest. The novel takes place in a single day - a deceivingly short amount of time - and chronicles Clare's preparations for a Parisian dinner party that could launch her diplomat husband's status. Each page is inundated with Clare's mental to-do lists, her thoughts, hopes, fears, interactions, and suspicions - every minute detail of her
Jul 03, 2012 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I finished reading An Unexpected Guest, the debut novel by author Anne Korkeakivi, several weeks ago and have been pondering what to write about it ever since. Although the events in the book take place over the course of one day, the way that day unfolds brings the main character face to face with her past, adding layers of complexity to even the most simple of choices.

Claire Moorhouse is the American wife of a British diplomat stationed in Paris. Due to the sudden illness of the British Ambass
For a blessedly short time I worked for this country's Foreign Affairs department, which included a two year stint in a foreign outpost. I thoroughly enjoyed my time aiding my country's foreign representation on foreign shores but realised fairly early on that I was not cut out for a life of protocol, being perfectly well behaved all the time, being impeccably dressed, thinking before I spoke, saying and doing as I was told. It was sort of like being a cardboard cut out for the country you came ...more
Jul 16, 2012 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france-paris
One day in the life of a diplomat's wife. This is a book about redemption, about one very fancy person carrying around a lot of guilt. The background has some nice details about the foreign service and the Seventh Arondissement in Paris.

Clare (well, Clare's servants) must put together a dinner party that could make or break her husband's next posting (Dublin if it goes well, or Kyrgystan if it doesn't). Her teenage son turns up from boarding school, in trouble somehow, but she can't get in touc
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Anne Korkeakivi is the author of the novels AN UNEXPECTED GUEST (2012) and SHINING SEA (2016), both from Little, Brown. Her short fiction and nonfiction have run for The Atlantic, The Yale Review, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Times (UK), Ms., Travel & Leisure, Best Women's Travel Writing, and many other publications in the US, UK, and online, and in 2011 she was named a Haw ...more
More about Anne Korkeakivi...

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“Wives' at these events had limited choices: either they could stay by their husbands' sides to coach them on other guests' names and remind them of the ages of their children when asked, or they could congregate with other wives in a corner, like pedestrians caught in a rain shower with only one umbrella between them.” 1 likes
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