One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honor of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savory survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor - and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief.
The cook toils over mock turtle soup and a chocolate cake covered with green sugar roses, which the hungry band of visitors is not invited to taste. But nothing, it seems, will go according to plan. As the passengers wearily search for rest, the house undergoes a strange transformation. One of their number (who is most definitely not a gentleman) makes it his business to join the birthday revels.
Evening turns to stormy night, and a most unpleasant parlor game threatens to blow respectability to smithereens: Smudge Torrington, the wayward youngest daughter of the house, decides that this is the perfect moment for her Great Undertaking.
The Uninvited Guests is the bewitching new novel from the critically acclaimed Sadie Jones. The prizewinning author triumphs in this frightening yet delicious drama of dark surprises - where social codes are uprooted and desire daringly trumps propriety - and all is alight with Edwardian wit and opulence.
Jones pulls readers into the drawing-room with what appears at first to be a classic English country-house tale, but winds up becoming something quite a bit darker, and thoroughly unexpected. Using the country house novel as a commentary on social class is nothing new - what's surprising and innovative about this one is the particularly daring and delightful ways in which Jones does so. This many-sided novel, which constantly confounds and even dashes expectations, is not for everyone; but for those who like their reading with a dash of surprise and a soupcon of satire, The Uninvited Guests will be very welcome indeed. (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).
Entertaining…Jones is a writer of admirable narrative energy…with a painfully accurate, almost Stoppardian ear for dialogue and a delightful streak of cruelty that flirts with…the gothic.
Wall Street Journal
Delicious…comparisons with Downton Abbey will be both inevitable and fair.
San Francisco Chronicle
Vividly atmospheric…niftily deceptive…a story of shattered snobbery, transformation of character and in the end a surprising and eerily beautiful portrait of compassion…A sublimely clever book.
Exhilaratingly strange and darkly funny…veers off in a wildly surprising direction, and the way it plays out is delightful, sexy, moving-even profound…Will haunt you - but happily.
Delightful and unexpected…These well-imagined characters serve to raise stakes the reader cares about. They move beyond archetypes, becoming something unexpectedly rich and engaging.
A peculiar change of pace for this gifted author.
Starred Review. A remarkable dark comedy... Jones's characters are delightfully eccentric, the wit delightfully droll, and the prose simply delightful. But for all its charm, this is a serious book…
Starred Review. Excellent characterization…a plot sprinkled with hints of secrets to be revealed…a page-turning read that blurs the edges of the country house mystery.
The Guardian (UK)
Sadie Jones's highly entertaining third novel seems perfectly conceived to appeal to two current popular tastes – our fascination with the Edwardian country house and the revival of the English ghost story... Jones shows that she can turn her talent for storytelling to a more stylised form with a light and playful touch, and without compromising her sharp insights into the human heart.
Sarah Blake, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Postmistress
What a delicious read! Like something written by a wicked Jane Austen,… I was captivated by its madcap nature and then, unprepared for the strange fruit that the story became.
Ann Patchett, New York Times Bestselling Author of State of Wonder
A brilliant novel… At once a shimmering comedy of manners and disturbing commentary on class… so well-written, so intricately plotted, that every page delivers some new astonishment.
Readers and viewers seem endlessly fascinated by the English country-house genre. From classic and award-winning novels such as The Remains of the Day,
Howards End, or Mansfield Park, to the mysteries of Agatha Christie and P.D. James, to television epics such as Upstairs, Downstairs or Downton Abbey, they offer both the writer and the reader a concentrated glimpse into a rarefied social milieu, one that often prompts both romantic intensity and social commentary. Although many of these works are historical in nature, they nevertheless seem relevant to contemporary society, especially when (as in The Uninvited Guests) the author obliquely or explicitly comments on historical behavior and attitudes through a modern lens.
Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class. At its center this is a profoundand profoundly movingexploration of shame, forgiveness and the difficulty of absolution.
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