Audra (Unabridged Chick)'s Reviews > The Uninvited Guests

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
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I loved this book. I loved Jones' writing style, her language, her use of words -- I literally was jubilant while reading, delighted by the multifaceted bounce of her narrative and dialogue. The text of this novel had personality, was a character in this story, and the tale it offered captured me from the first line.

Set in 1912 at Sterne, an isolated English country estate, the story focuses on one night with the Torrington family: Charlotte, a 50-ish beauty with a cold demeanor and a loving second marriage; her three children -- Clovis, dark and bitter, Emerald, sweet and loyal, and Smudge, young, imaginative, and often forgotten; her second husband, the one-armed Edward Swift; Florence Trieves, a housekeeping in mourning; and Emerald's birthday party guests. On the eve of her party, the Torrington's learn of a terrible train accident that requires them to house the Third Class passengers until the railway company can send them on their way, and that is when things really begin to unravel. These uninvited guests provoke the Torringtons and their invited guests in ways none anticipated, and an eventful night transforms into something horrific, frightening, and illuminating for all.

I've read reviews that said this family was so unlikeable it was impossible to enjoy the story; to me, the characters were quite flawed but so human, I felt rather tenderly toward them, even Charlotte (who I think is the most despicable, mostly for her treatment of her children). This is a family raised in Victorian mores and ideals, living in an Edwardian society of flashy beauty and changing values, formerly affluent but now dependent on the possibility of a loan to keep them afloat. When I closed the book, I could say I loved every single character in this novel -- every one. They were real, anchored solidly by Jones' marvelous turn-of-phrase (the dialogue! the descriptive passages!) and given flight by the ludicrous and chilling plot. There's a madcap pace to the end of the novel that strained credulity (and shockingly, it wasn't the supernatural elements!) but I loved it for pushing me past my expectations.

Part domestic drama, part class exploration, part spoof on English country life, The Uninvited Guests is a fascinating, creepy, and moving look at obligation, motivation, and loyalty. Gushingly recommended.
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Reading Progress

March 22, 2012 – Shelved
May 10, 2012 – Started Reading
May 15, 2012 –
0.0% "The writing style is so silly, so adverb-laden, I just gobble it up like ice cream. I might have a tummy ache later, but for now, I'm in heaven!"
May 15, 2012 –
page 1
0.37% ""Her eldest children, Emerald and Clovis, aged nineteen and twenty respectively, but for whom the word 'children' is not inaccurate at the point at which we discover them, did not like this new arrangement.""
May 15, 2012 –
page 4
1.47% ""'This helpless grief ovre what amounts to a few rooms and a rather poor roof is irrational,' she began, 'and frankly --' she stopped walking, 'ludicrous.' She turned to face the house, the windows of which glowed variously. 'There's no use looking at me like that,' she said to it.""
May 15, 2012 –
page 29
10.66% ""Have you any hens?' asked John. Emerald was loath to admit they hadn't any. She felt bound to defend her mother who, in the storm of John Buchanan, had sheltered in the port of invented poultry.""
May 16, 2012 – Shelved as: favorites
May 16, 2012 – Shelved as: heroine-amazing
May 16, 2012 – Shelved as: heroine-unlikable
May 16, 2012 – Shelved as: historicals
May 16, 2012 – Shelved as: mood-dark-and-twisted
May 16, 2012 – Shelved as: mood-evocative
May 16, 2012 – Shelved as: place-as-character
May 16, 2012 – Shelved as: place-uk
May 16, 2012 – Shelved as: secret-identities
May 16, 2012 – Shelved as: skeletons-in-the-closet
May 16, 2012 – Finished Reading
October 25, 2012 – Shelved as: era-early-20th-century
April 2, 2013 – Shelved as: top-10-of-2012

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Amanda (new)

Amanda I really want to read this one!

Audra (Unabridged Chick) I'm literally giddy about it -- I adored Jones' previous novel, Small Wars, and even though this is wildly different, the era/setting/premise is so right up my alley. I saw a review comparing her to Saki so that got me v excited!

message 3: by Amanda (new)

Amanda So glad you loved this. I must get my hands on a copy soon. Sounds like something I would like alot.

Audra (Unabridged Chick) Amanda, I can't squee enough about this book -- it's so unusual but so familiar -- just smashing. Jones won me with Small Wars but this one just blew me away -- it was a spoof and an original work all at once!

message 5: by ayrdaomei (new) - added it

ayrdaomei Funny, reading your review, part of me is like "yeah...that doesn't sound like anything I would like" and yet your enthusiasm has combined with my curiosity about what everyone else in the proverbial restaurant is eating. Will definitely keep an eye out for it :)

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