An Unexpected Guest: Book summary and reviews of An Unexpected Guest by Anne Korkeakivi

An Unexpected Guest

A Novel

by Anne Korkeakivi

An Unexpected Guest by Anne Korkeakivi X
An Unexpected Guest by Anne Korkeakivi
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2012
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Clare Moorhouse, the American wife of a high-ranking diplomat in Paris, is arranging an official dinner crucial to her husband's career. As she shops for fresh stalks of asparagus and works out the menu and seating arrangements, her day is complicated by the unexpected arrival of her son and a random encounter with a Turkish man, whom she discovers is a suspected terrorist. More unnerving is a recurring face in the crowd, one that belonged to another, darker era of her life. One she never expected to see again. But it can't be him - he's been dead for 20 years...

Like Virginia Woolf did in Mrs. Dalloway, Anne Korkeakivi brilliantly weaves the complexities of an age into an act as deceptively simple as hosting a dinner party.

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Reviews

Media Reviews


BookBrowse Review
"While both Mrs Dalloway and Clare, this book's heroine, express their inner musings to us within a 24 hour time frame as they plan for a dinner party, which includes a trip to the market for food and flowers, that is where the similarities end.

Clare's 'secret' of twenty years told in backstory, is interlaced awkwardly throughout the book. Clare, appears shallow and superficial, the motivation for her actions feels wooden and contrived. We are told that passion, desire and conviction are what spurns her to do what she did, and certainly her actions are ones that would reflect such beliefs, yet Clare appears so guarded and controlled, so caught up in how she is perceived by those around her, that equating her motivation with fervor rings a bit hollow. The old adage 'show don't tell,' comes to mind here, the showing nowhere near the telling.

As well, dialogue spoken by a Parisian floral shop employee peppered with "zis", "zey" and "zem's; clichéd secondary characters, and a predictable all- problems-solved ending make this story, filled with much potential, fall short of satisfaction." - B.J. Hegedus

Other Reviews
"Moving between the starched-napkin ambience of high-level diplomacy and urgent questions of revolutionary activity, this engaging debut novel gently probes both without forcing insurmountable choices on its characters. Good for reading groups." - Library Journal

"Korkeakivi fluidly fuses the past and present, building a solid character in Clare and powerfully exploring whether redemption from past regrets is possible and the lengths one must go to attain it." - Publishers Weekly

"Drawn from the same cloth as Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, the easy narrative flow, smooth pacing, and interesting characters compel in this title about genteel intrigue of both politics and the heart." - Booklist

"Anne Korkeakivi writes wonderfully about embassy manners, food, and Paris, and she writes even better about the darker world that threatens to disrupt not just Clare's seating plan for dinner but her entire life. An Unexpected Guest, like its heroine, is a novel of great elegance, enormous surprises, and unexpected depths." - Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

"An Unexpected Guest is a lovingly detailed account of a day in the life of the wife of a British diplomat in Paris. But what a day!" – John Casey, National Book Award-winning author of Spartina

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Reader Reviews

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Liz

An evocative and
I really enjoyed this book on many levels -- it's well written, the prose is evocative (with lovely descriptions of Paris) and at its core it addresses the fact that our past (and our secrets) are just under the surface.

For Clare Moorhouse, this past comes charging into the present and her choices (past and present) profoundly affect her life and her family.

The author has written a sympathetic and lovely novel that lets you put yourself in Clare's shoes and then challenges you to decide what you would have done in her place.

Set in Paris after 9/11 it also calls into focus the challenges of being an American living abroad at a time when terrorism is part of daily concerns and what that means to the lives of all people.

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Author Information

Anne Korkeakivi

Anne Korkeakivi was born and raised in New York City but currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland, with her husband, who works at the United Nations, and two daughters. Her short stories have been published by The Yale Review, The Atlantic, and The Bellevue Literary Review, among other magazines, and she is a Hawthornden Fellow. Visit her online at www.annekorkeakivi.com.

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