Summary and book reviews of The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

The Uninvited Guests

A Novel

by Sadie Jones

The Uninvited Guests
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2012, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2013, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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About this Book

Book Summary

A frightening yet delicious drama of dark surprises - where social codes are uprooted and desire daringly trumps propriety - alight with Edwardian wit and opulence.

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.

1

Edward Swift Departs

Since her marriage to Edward Swift, three years after the sudden death of her first husband Horace Torrington, Charlotte had changed her position at the breakfast table in order to accom­modate her new husband's needs: specifically, aiding him in the spreading of toast and cutting of meat, owing to his having suffered the loss of his left arm at the age of twenty-three in an unfortunate encounter with the narrow wheels of a speeding gig, out of which he had fallen on the driveway of his then home in County Wicklow. Having always faced the window and wide view, now Charlotte sat on Edward's left, and faced him.

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. Nor did they like or approve of Edward Swift; single arm notwithstanding, they found he did not fit.

Clovis Torrington balanced the pearl-handled butter...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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).

Full Review Members Only (523 words).

Media Reviews

Time Magazine

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.

USA Today

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.

Denver Post

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.

Kirkus Reviews

A peculiar change of pace for this gifted author.

Publishers Weekly

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…

Library Journal

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.

Author Blurb 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.

Author Blurb 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.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Country-House Genre

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.

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