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The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
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The Uninvited Guests (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Sadie Jones

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6546614,714 (3.14)82
Member:vancouverdeb
Title:The Uninvited Guests
Authors:Sadie Jones
Info:Knopf Canada (2012), Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Wishlist
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The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones (2012)

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I don't know how to rate this. It's very odd and a bit of a failure but a noble one. It takes place in a crumbling old house somewhere in England and sometime in the early 20th century - ambiguity is purposeful here. It is the 21st birthday of Emerald Torrington and the party plans go wrong when a terrible train wreck neccessitates the use of the house as a way station for the injured passenger and one guest in particular who seems to know secrets about the family. And things just get weirder from there. This has some of the dark comic edginess of Ivy Compton Burnett or Muriel Spark but without the astringency.
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
This, Jones' third novel, has a period setting centred around a remote English country house where the owners and some guests have gathered to celebrate a member of the family's birthday. Tension underpins the celebrations as the family are on the brink of losing the family home, and the day descends into further disarray and dark confusion when a large group of strangers arrive at the house following a railway crash on a nearby branch line.

This was a bit of a frustrating Sadie Jones' book. The first three-quarters were true to her usual form - there was a sense of foreboding and mystery which kept me hooked, and whilst her writing may not be high literature it is eminently readable. Easy comfort reading I would call it. However, the last quarter of the book, when all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, verged on the ridiculous. I was sure she was leading the mystery to a satisfyingly ominous conclusion, but the turn it took was so far-fetched it was like sticking a pin in the balloon of tension. All the build up was spoilt by the silliness of the climax, and to ruin it further she squeezed in some improbable romances at the 11th hour which just felt like very amateur story telling. This is not Mills & Boon - it wasn't necessary.

Harsh as this review sounds, however, I did enjoy most of the book, and it was just the kind of easy read I needed to get me back into the reading groove.

3.5 stars - a slip of form for Sadie Jones. There was a great start and middle but an expectedly poor ending. ( )
  AlisonY | Nov 2, 2016 |

The Uninvited Guests –Sadie Jones
4 stars

It is 1912 in a crumbling English manor house. The household is engaged in an effort to keep up appearances for Emerald Torrington’s 20th birthday. As the afternoon passes and the evening entertainment progresses, strange things begin to happen.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It fits the set pattern of a traditional drawing room farce and is, as the author clearly intended, very theatrical. Stage directions are not actually written (until the very last word), but they are clearly understood from the text. I loved the shenanigans of Smudge, the youngest daughter, and the desperate efforts of the cook, Mrs. Trieves. The uninvited guests add both comedy and a mildly sinister note to the doomed dinner party. Despite the series of rapidly moving, bizarre events, there is a surprising amount of character development. Superficially shallow, these characters have hidden motivations. There are secrets which explain their paramount need to hold onto their disappearing lifestyle. Even the least likable characters become more human as the careful party preparations unravel.
This book was fun, a perfect relaxing read.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
I loved this book! It was a bit of a twisted tale done in an interesting fashion, similar to an Alfred Hitchcock story. The writing style was superb and the characters were all fascinating. The Uninvited Guests is primarily a historical mystery and Sadie Jones made the characters quite real with her accurate use of language for the time period. ( )
  StephLaymon | Feb 3, 2016 |
Two-and-a-half stars ( )
  Gingermama | Jan 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
How to describe The Uninvited Guests? Well, that's part of the fun. Sadie Jones' outstanding new novel starts out by offering mischievous echoes of Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs -- tempered, however, by a somewhat unsentimental vision of a decaying Edwardian England foolishly complacent in its sense of privilege and entitlement. But by the end, we have landed somewhere else: into a surrealistic universe reminiscent of filmmaker Luis Bunuel at his most unsettling. Also, let it be noted, into an eerily convincing ghost story...Further evidence that Sadie Jones is a stunningly original writer. The Uninvited Guests is her best book yet.
 
Downton Abbey meets The Others, anyone?..The result is a playful and rollicking tale, with writing that crackles with originality and wit. The supernatural element is not truly frightening and never threatens to dominate proceedings; it instead acts as a conduit for the main characters' journeys.
 
Full marks to them for publishing it in a way that accurately reflects its complexities. All the same, some of Sadie Jones's readers are likely to be a little bewildered....The novel is a ghost story, but disappointingly the ghosts are sad or sinister rather than scary...Stylish, witty and inventive it may be, but The Uninvited Guests is perhaps too much about the writer at play to satisfy Sadie Jones's hungry fans.
 
The Woman in Black meets Downton Abbey in this happy marriage of ghost story and country house dramaSadie 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. The Uninvited Guests marks a stylistic departure for Jones too – on the surface the tone is lighter and more comic than her two previous novels...ones 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.
 
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Epigraph
Their table was a board to tempt even ghosts
to pass the Styx for more substantial feasts.

Don Juan, Lord Byron
Dedication
For
Fred, Tabitha, Daisy
with love
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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 accomodate 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.
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Book description
A party for Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday is being prepared when an accident takes place and uninvited guests seek shelter at the falling apart manor.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062116509, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:05 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"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."--Dust jacket.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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