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The Guest Book

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  759 ratings  ·  374 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, 448 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Flatiron Books (first published May 2nd 2019)
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  • The Guest Book by Sarah Blake
    The Guest Book
    Release date: May 14, 2019
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    3.74  · 
    Rating details
     ·  759 ratings  ·  374 reviews

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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
    Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    ”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
    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
    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
    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
    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 proc
    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
    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
    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
    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
    Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: own
    Thank you MacMillan/Flatiron Books for this beautiful ARC.

    This book is simply remarkable, the writing, family dynamic, just everything. I loved it. Pub day is soon! Definitely recommend.
    Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    An exquisitely written, poignant family saga that illuminates the great divide, the gulf that separates the rich and poor, black and white, Protestant and Jew. Spanning three generations, Sarah Blake deftly examines the life and legacy of one unforgettable family, the memories and mistakes made as they learn what it means to be “a Milton.”
    May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: arc
    The Guest Book by Sarah Blake. It caught my interest early with beautiful, descriptive language and interesting characters. It is a family drama covering three generations of a wealthy, white family of privilege with deep American roots. There was a Milton in the first class at Harvard. They built a banking empire and thrived even during the Depression.

    It is about the culpability of silence and the family secrets of the Milton family, how wealth and privilege control the gates of power, and th
    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.
    Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
    This certainly was a page turner with multiple sensitive issues brought to light. I'm looking forward to meeting Sarah Blake at next week's Booktopia.
    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
    Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Huge thanks to Flatiron Books for my ARC of The Guest Book.

    Wow. Just wow. By the final page, I myself felt entrenched in the Milton family saga. I was often reminded of the famous words of Elie Wiesel, "The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference." The Milton family and their descentents suffered for their indifference, believing change possible through inaction.

    Are we responsible for the sins of our parents? Our grandparents? Can we truly make the world a better place while still hol
    Ashley Houser
    Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Out May 7th! Pre-order from Amazon here!

    I have such mixed feelings about this book so I think I'm going to need to break it down in pieces to sort through my emotions.

    1. The Writing. A freaking plus! 5 stars! Sarah Blake is an extraordinary talent when it comes to her writing style. Her work kind of reminds me of the great classics in that it's so elegantly executed with sweeping, graceful prose. She truly captured the scenery and the essence of the island and made me feel like I was right ther
    Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
    Shelves: read-in-2019
    First of all, many thanks to Flatiron books and Sarah Blake for the advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review. First let me say this book was beautifully written. However, I usually read suspense/thrillers and after 150 pages I was still struggling to get through; I was wondering when it was going to pick up, and when I was going to find out why I was learning all this information about the Milton family. Thankfully I did read some reviews here on Goodreads that said that the sto ...more
    Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: giveaways
    Thank you to Goodreads and Flatiron Books for the ARC of The Guest Book. The blurb on this book sounded so interesting and like a book I would love. "This powerful novel about the Milton family, who have a family secret that ripples across three generations." Unfortunately, I didn't love the book as I had expected. The book is 482 pages, of which that last 200 were very good (an easy 4 stars). The beginning of the book, at least for me, was so slow, long and confusing. I didn't feel like the cha ...more
    Ashlee » Library In The Country
    Well I received an ARC of this from Macmillan so I guess I’ll be reading it! Sounds super intriguing!
    "The Guest Book examines the attitudes of the Anglo elite toward those who are different. The members of Jewish, African American and LGBTQ+ communities are pleasant enough guests to the Milton sphere, but have no true place in their world. The Miltons pretend everyone is equal, hiding the true feelings under impeccable manners. But actions speak louder than words, and their lack of voice speaks loudest of all. Silence protects the story of their white protestant lives."
    From a review found on Bo
    May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
    I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this title & cannot recommend it enough.

    Sarah Blake deftly handles three generations (with similar or repeating names) & their interconnected family story with skill. The plot is rich & emotional with characters you feel connected to & that is so important because it is not a quick read. This book took some time for me to process & that's not a bad thing. I think that most people have had to confront a family secret or legacy that isn'
    Debbie Akers
    I decided not to rate this book, as I only wound up skimming it after the first five chapters. In the past, I’ve still rated books I did this with, but I realized that’s not really fair. I also feel bad saying all this, as I received this novel free as an advance copy. I am certainly grateful, and will pass on to a friend. I don’t tend to read historical fiction, but want to challenge myself to read more of it. Unfortunately, this one just missed the mark for me. It’s a long novel, and I knew al ...more
    Lorri Steinbacher
    Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
    Read in prepub. Due out April 2019.

    Sarah Blake achieves a marvelous thing with this book: She kept me reading despite a deep loathing for her "modern-day" main character. The characters are well-written, the story compelling, but the element that would have taken this from 3-stars to 4-stars--a really frank examination of the white-monied class and the havoc they wreak--is missing. I left the the novel feeling that I should feel sorry for the monied class, because they are humans like anyone els
    Pam VanOoyen
    Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
    I received this book as an ARC last week. Maybe it was because I am not typically a fan of the historical fiction, but I just really struggled with this book. I had difficulty following the characters and the plot was interesting but just not enough to pull me completely in. It did pick up a little bit toward the middle, but nothing that I had to keep reading. I think more dates at the beginning of the chapters or some type of heading to let me know where we were starting would have been helpful ...more
    Donna Hines
    Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: arc, netgalley
    History should NOT repeat itself.
    The Guest Book is a novel that though written well addresses a very painful time and while the author attempts to address the issues she does so by utilizing characters who simply erase themselves from the action while finding peace in their pain which does nothing to absolve the wrongs placed upon them.
    Families in turmoil. Cultural genocide. Racial inequality. White privilege. The Great Depression.
    Dare to note the Milton's seemed to have it all in fact so much
    Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
    This book grabbed me with the cover. I know that you can’t judge a book by its cover but this one stood out.

    Full disclosure: I do not usually read historical literary fiction. My reader style usually falls into the science fiction and fantasy category. Literary fiction make me feel locked in - like there are more worlds out there to explore.

    Blake does a great job expanding on the things about literary fiction that make me feel trapped. Her characters were new and well-developed. They came aliv
    Tonstant Weader
    May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Sarah Blake’s The Guest Book is an ambitious multi-generational family saga that looks at American life through the experience of three generations of one patrician family, the Milton family of Crockett’s Island. The island is off the coast of Maine and was purchased in the 30s after Ogden and Kitty Milton lost their eldest son in an accident–a sort of fresh start, a place to heal and rebuild. That they could buy an island in the midst of the Great Depression gives you an idea of their power and ...more
    Judi Ross
    Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
    The Guest Book was an ambitious undertaking by the author, Sarah Blake. It is a family saga spanning three generations in the early 1900s. There were many threads covering multiple chronologies told in alternating narrative voices. Blake has a lot of confidence in her readers' abilities to follow these threads and piece together hints and clues throughout the chapters. What I liked: The writing is beautiful, poetic and descriptive. I enjoy historical fiction as a genre and especially like family ...more
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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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