Grace's Reviews > The Uninvited Guests

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
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's review
Aug 18, 2012

it was ok
Read in August, 2012

What an odd book. It's sort of like Wodehouse's more bitter cousin (one more interested in class struggle) met up with a goth and hashed out a book proposal. The setup is that the Torrington family are about to lose the family home. While the stepfather goes off on a mission to save it, the rest prepare for Emerald's 20th birthday. And then a train derails and the Railway start to send passengers to the house...

Jones does a fantastic job of characterization, especially with people like Charlotte. She knows just how to twist the knife, and the way those sentences settle - it's kind of deliciously grim. These are not particularly likeable people, and Jones doesn't just create an environment where the reader decides that on their own; she also insinuates that the characters not only know they're kind of awful, but not-so-secretly relish it. At times, it feels like the house is full of sociopaths. But then about three-quarters through the book, the book itself feels like it derails, and I ended up feeling like a particularly nasty treat and been taken away.

And now, the last quarter of the book:(view spoiler)

I can't say I liked this, and a lot of that is because the plot just dissolved. It reminds me of things that get praised in creative writing classes for being "innovative" and "having levels", which has always kind of translated for me into "I've made this deliberately obscure, and that means it's deep". I think this rationale is crap. So thumbs up from me on creating some truly foul and lovely characters, and thumbs down on punking out with the actual storyline.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Karen Thanks for posting this, I'm glad I'm not the only one who was completely befuddled. This book went off in so many different directions, the ending completely lost me when they were trying to drag the pony down the stairs and hauled in all the mud. I just skimmed the last couple of chapters. It got really silly.

Casceil I love your second sentence. I would add that the book proposal was then given to a modern-day Jane Austen, to be written as a comedy of manners. Two-thirds of the way through, that author walked off in disgust when the rules changed and the book became a supernatural thriller. The screenwriters for "Beetlejuice" stepped in to complete the project. Perhaps Tim Burton could direct the movie.

Catherine Thank you! Your review is the only thing I could find that spoke about the ending. I just can't finish the book. I thought maybe if I knew what happened I would be interested to see how Jones got there. But after reading all the reviews I just can't bring myself to do it. Thanks again!

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