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The Guest Book

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  23,442 ratings  ·  3,401 reviews
An unforgettable love story, a novel about past mistakes and betrayals that ripple throughout generations, The Guest Book examines not just a privileged American family, but a privileged America. It is a literary triumph.

The Guest Book follows three generations of a powerful American family, a family that “used to run the world”.

And when the novel begins in 1935, they stil
Kindle Edition, 484 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Flatiron Books
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Leighellen Landskov I think that's the point - as is the fact that the Guest Book wasn't signed by Reg even though he was there. This story, at it's core, is about the "h…moreI think that's the point - as is the fact that the Guest Book wasn't signed by Reg even though he was there. This story, at it's core, is about the "hidden people"in history. Yes, they were there, but there stories weren't told. So it's fitting that we don't know more.(less)
Karla Yes. That was the impression I got from the wording of Reg and Moss' interactions. The author seemed to often leave various underlying relationship de…moreYes. That was the impression I got from the wording of Reg and Moss' interactions. The author seemed to often leave various underlying relationship developments vague throughout the book. Moss and Reg, Ogden and Elsa, and Joan and Fenno. I was frustrated with this aspect while reading this lengthy saga, but after finishing the novel I am processing the story and understanding this is often how history in a family or group of people (work groups, friend groups, etc.) exists. There are pockets of history that are not directly visible that would explain many human interactions if the "whole story" was known to an individual. I am more convinced now that the author intended unstated relationship undercurrents within the story line to underscore family members "blank spots" in their family history.
I also questioned numerous times whether Ogden and Kitty's children ever knew of the existence of Neddy. Did Moss even remember his brother? Sometimes I thought yes and other times it seemed like an unreachable memory of a ghost for Moss.(less)

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Average rating 3.61  · 
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Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
The Guest Book by Sarah Blake is a 2019 Flatiron Books publication.

An Epic multi-generational family saga exposing long buried secrets and truths- not only providing a mirrored reflection of the privileged Milton’s, but of the entire country as well…

“There is the crime and there is silence”

In the mid-thirties, golden couple Ogden and Kitty Milton, recovering from a horrific tragedy, purchase Crockett Island, making it a point of renewal. They will ‘summer’ there every year of their lives, ther
Jeffrey Keeten
”She knew silence often flew in between families and roosted. Slow, inexplicable angers grew without roots. Nothing special, no story. What the study of history had taught her, clearly, after years and years, was that she might pull up the single moments from the darkness where they lay centuries old, she might point to a spot in time, a line in a diary, the particular shredding of a blue ribbon used to tie a shoe, she might string these together and say--here is what happened.

And history would
Angela M
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
4+ stars

A family saga spanning three generations, a story complicated by secrets that take decades to be revealed. A privileged family, with money, a father so conscious of the family status reflected in the symbol of the island off the coast of Maine that he just has to buy it. “I want this place,” he said quietly. “I want this house to be ours. And everyone sailing by would know it stood for us. It would mean something. They’d see it and think, there’s the Milton place. Kitty and Ogden Milton.
Ron Charles
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
There’s a stunning scene toward the beginning of Sarah Blake’s new novel, “The Guest Book,” that follows a wealthy young mother gliding around New York and then to her elegant mansion in a charmingly choreographed dance of delight that ends with her 5-year-old son falling from a window to his death.

Such a tragedy might shatter other families, but the Miltons are not other families. Ogden and Kitty Milton are the union of America’s bluest bloodlines, aristocrats who have provided a model of decor
Lovely writing, a historical family drama featuring generations of characters, a focus on important social themes related race and privilege. Slow and a bit lengthy for my personal preference, but I can see many readers enjoying this overall.

Thank you to Flatiron Books for generously mailing me an advance readers' edition of Sarah Blake's The Guest Book. In exchange, I agreed to share my honest thoughts on goodreads and my other favorite social media sites.

Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is a novel about white guilt, and it does so many things right and cares about so many of the right things that I almost—but not quite—am willing to love it. The blot upon its freshly starched canvas is of such a nature, however, that it does more than just prevent me from loving the book; it renders it in its entirety so deeply problematic that I’m not entirely sure how to feel about it—at all.

Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we? Please note that there will be some low-key spoilers thro
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Privilege. Secrets. History. Family.

The Guest Book is a sweeping tale of three generations of the Milton family. This book moves back and forth in time, showcasing secrets and consequences. This book showcases old money, racism, glamour, status, opulence, limelight, privilege, power, choices, inequality, and the economic divide. Each generation showcases the mindset of not only the family but society at large. With each new generation comes acceptance, awareness, growth and change. But is it eno
Elyse  Walters
Not rating it...
But also not going to finish it.

It’s rare for me to mention a book I’ve not finished. ( a few times).. some books I read and don’t even mark - let alone review because it was OK... or I just didn’t feel like writing anything—or there are already TONS of reviews - and I don’t feel I have much more to add ...

But this book has me wondering-
I just can’t seem to care enough about it enough.

Could be the HOT WEATHER... lol 100 degrees here for days!!

If my local book club picks it - I
Katy Nowoswiat
I really wanted to like this book more given the high praise it received, but I just couldn’t. First, the plot is so loose that the thread holding the story together is barely visible sometimes. Second, the book tries to address issues of otherness but never really makes any progress besides highlighting differences between characters and their inner struggles. Additionally, the extremely long sentences had me frustrated at points as it made finding a rhythm difficult. Finally, after dragging th ...more
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“‘Do you remember that day right before she died, when Granny K told us there were two moments at the gate in every life?’

Evie nodded. ‘One at the beginning.’

‘And one in the middle.’

It had been her last summer. They had filled the golf cart with pillows from the Katherine and driven her up to the house, carrying her through the door into the second parlor, where they had fixed a bed onto which Uncle Dickie had carefully, gently, set her down. And she lay there, all the windows open to the air a
An emotional, heart wrenching story of true love is one aspect of why I loved this multi-generational story. The Guest Book will not be on everyone's best list, but it definitely is on mine.

Ogden and Kitty Milton are a couple that have it all. Wealth, privilege, love and the right lineage. They suffer a tragedy early in the book and for that Kitty has a hard time coping. To help "snap Kitty out of it", Ogden buys her an island off the coast of Maine, where they can summer each year with their la
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dining-room-1
The Guest Book is epic in its scope covering three generations of a larger-than-life, well-to-do American family. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

In the beginning of the story, it’s 1935. Kitty and Ogden Milton have all the best in life: adorable children, beautiful appearances, and the perfect relationship with each other. A tragedy happens, and Ogden attempts to soothe Kitty by buying an island for her in Maine.

That house holds such importance for the family in the present and the future. It’s also where Kitty
Cindy Burnett
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Guest Book is a sweeping family saga that shines a glaring light on the effects of privilege as well as cultural and racial divisions and injustices in the United States. Secondarily, the novel examines the issue of whether a distinction should be made between inaction and willful decision-making when an individual is faced with a moral dilemma, and the age-old issue of buried family secrets. Spanning three generations, the book focuses on the Milton family, a powerful East Coast family, beg ...more
This family saga novel sounded exactly like the type of book I like to sink my teeth into. Unfortunately, I’ve slogged my way slowly through the first 150 pages and all I’ve got for my efforts is a LONG list of characters’ names and timelines that jump around without warning. I’m setting it aside for now; may return to it at a future date.
May 29, 2019 added it
Shelves: fiction
The Hook Northshire Bookstore, Booktopia May 2019 Event hosted Author, Sarah Blake presenting this May 7th release of The Guest Book. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed The Postmistress, I requested Blake's latest book from Edelweiss. My thanks to Author, Sarah Blake, Flatiron Books (Macmillan), and Edelweiss for the privilege of being a early reader in exchange for my honest review.

The Line - No direct quotes are allowed until compared with the finished product.

The Sinker - Over 100 “Much Love”
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
I've never joined Twitter, but sometimes I nose around on certain people's pages there. Stephen King, of all people, was the one who made me read this book. He recommended it on Twitter, saying it would provide a lot for book groups to dig into. I'm not in a book group, but I do love a juicy family saga. So thank you, Mr. King.

If you like multi-generational family stories that reward your patience, give this one a whirl. It tackles issues of race and class and secrets that tear at the fabric of
Carrie (brightbeautifulthings)
An ARC of this book showed up unexpectedly at my door like a lost puppy, and I couldn’t very well leave it out in the cold. I don’t remember requesting a copy or entering a giveaway for it (though, admittedly, I don’t track giveaways very closely). It doesn’t sound like the sort of book I would choose for myself, so I may be the wrong audience for it. With a few exceptions, I don’t care much for historical fiction. Fans of the genre may find more to like about it than I did. Trigger warnings: an ...more
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoy compelling multi-generational family stories and this is one I’ll be thinking about for quite a awhile. Have you ever heard the phrase “the sins of our fathers?” That kept popping up in my mind. There’s so much truth to it in this story. The sad thing is in their minds I think they felt they were so far above everyone else they couldn’t see it. White privilege, racial inequality, and guilt all played a role in the three generations of the Milton family history. Blake’s writing was perfec ...more
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-publishers, dnf
Thanks to St. Martin's Press for this ARC. As a side note, I did not request this book, it just came in the mail.

I started this book and stopped at page 77 to go to another book temporarily. I decided not to go back and finish it because it was so slow.

I tried to read her other book The Postmistress a few years back and couldn't finish that one too. That should have told me something. I think it's the style of her writing that I can't understand.
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Blake has lyrically painted a gorgeous picture of the summer home of Ogden and Kitty Milton on Crockett island—complete with gilded frame. The successful banker purchased the entire island in the mid-1930s to counter Kitty’s melancholy following the death of her young son Neddy for a mere $1500. [It was in the midst of the Depression after all.] Ogden and Kitty brought their three children—Moss, Joan, and Evelyn—to the island every summer and filled their lives with idyllic days filled with swim ...more
Aga Durka
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 Exquisite Stars!

Thoughts-provoking, powerful, and elegant.

“The Guest Book” is a family saga spread over three generations of the Milton family written in an exquisite style. I was truly captivated by the extraordinary writing style of Sarah Blake and I could not get enough of the beautiful descriptions and well-developed characters.

To fully enjoy this book I had to read it slowly and with my full attention on it. I tried to savor each sentence and immerse myself in the stunning landscape of t
Hayley Stenger
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has a lot to unpack and I know I will be considering it for awhile. Sarah Blake has a lot below the surface. This book is nuanced, covering an extensive history of one family with priviledge, a family whose history mirrors that of our own country and society. There are thoughtful ideas in this novel that are taken apart and explored from several viewpoints by the layered and complex characters. Everything in this book is just below the surface, little is said outright. I think that wil ...more
Donna Ferber
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Could not put in down.
The Guest Book covers three generations of the Miltons of Oyster Bay and their summer home on an island in Maine. It is on the Island where the family comes each summer, ("when summer was a verb") that we get to know the Miltons and their devotion to family, adherence to tradition and unfortunately to secrets. From the early twentieth century until the present, the island keeps the Miltons insulated from change but the waves of unrest crash at the shore converging in a sto
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a nearly 500 page book. I found it enjoyable for the first 300 pages and then the last 200 were gripping! Usually "slow burn" is used to describe romance books but this book was a slow burn. There is enough mystery that you care about the family and enough thoughtful presentation of race and religion issues to make the book more than a sweeping family saga. The writing swings between lyrical and prosaic and can go from deeply philosophical to everyday banter. It was an impressive book. I ...more
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book was a challenge to get through! Phew! I’m not sure I even would’ve finished it except it was a book club pick. The publisher description pretty much sums it up so I won’t go into detail.

There was something off in the writing that really didn’t work for me. I had such a hard time relating to what the characters were talking about and how they felt. It sometimes seemed like I was reading riddles, failing to understand the point in character dialogue. For example, Moss’ song? Made very l
Louise Wilson
This is the saga of the Milton family who were old school bankers. It begins in 1935 and covers three generations. The family buy a small island in Maine. The island has a house built on it so the famiky use it for their summer vacations. It looks at the attitudes the Anglo elite had against anyone they thought was different.

I did find this book to be confusing. There were lots of characters and the time periods jump all over the place. The characters are obsessed with there self importance. The
Bill Kupersmith
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: me-emma
Sarah Blake’s The Guest Book struck me as rivalled only by James Gould Cozzens’ By Love Possessed as a depiction of life among the American upper classes in the middle years of the twentieth century. Ogden Milton and his wife Kitty belong to an old-line New York banking family dating back to the 1850s, but what is most distinctive about them is the island they own off the coast of Maine, which Ogden bought during the Depression for $1500. It has a family graveyard and a memorial
Henry, b. 1846, d
I love family sagas. They are detail oriented, mostly historically accurate, full of drama. And there is always at least one character that I can identify with. The Miltons are the backbone of New York society in the early twentieth century. Banking/investment scions, they adhere to "The Rules".
But as times change, they stay stuck with their rules. Rules that should never have existed, made to keep everyone in their place.
When the inevitable challenge comes, they close ranks, turning a blind e
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
This book is definitely a winner. A thoughtful composition on wealth privilege and the subtle racism that hides behind good graces.

You can find my full review "What's in a Name?" on my blog:

Special thanks to Flatiron Books for this giveaway.
Jen Thompson
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Sarah is the author of the novels, Grange House, the bestselling The Postmistress, and The Guest Book forthcoming; a chapbook of poems, Full Turn, and the artist book Runaway Girls in collaboration with the artist Robin Kahn. She lives in Washington DC with her husband, the poet Joshua Weiner, their two sons, and a little white dog.

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“Wars, plagues, names upon tombs tell us only what happened. But history lies in the cracks between.” 4 likes
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