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An Unexpected Guest: A Novel by Anne…
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An Unexpected Guest: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Anne Korkeakivi

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1118108,775 (3.23)8
dianaleez's review
I'm asking myself why Anne Korkeakivi's 'An Unexpected Guest' didn't work for me when it had such glowing reviews. Initially, I suppose, it was because the cover blurb compares Clare, the heroine, to Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. And while the two may be superficially similar, Clare is aloof, cold, and not especially interesting.

Add to that that it's yet another novel with a heavy-handed political agenda.

But, most importantly, it moved so slowly to a completely predictable conclusion. ( )
  dianaleez | May 26, 2012 |
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This story is a day in the life of Clare Moorehouse, an American wife to a British diplomat posted in Paris. On this day she is organizing a dinner with dignitaries and she is seeing to every detail to make the evening successful.

Throughout the 24-hour period we learn of Clare's life before she met her diplomat husband and how her past could jeopardize his position. We go with her through the streets of Paris on her every errand before her dinner party. When her son is suspended from his boarding school we are in her head rationalizing how she will handle explaining to her husband.

Reminiscent of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway this book also dragged for me. While I/m usually one to love detail and description I felt this got bogged down with them. The main character was described to wear beige, a neutral tone and it was also in line with her rather boring personality. She lacked depth and being that she was the character that the story was focused on made this book average.

How I acquired this book: On a visit to Half Price Books with my son.
Shelf life: 8 months ( )
  missjomarch | Aug 20, 2014 |
A diplomat's wife balances the need for a perfect evening with her wish to rescue a man accused of a murder she knows he didn't commit. ( )
  picardyrose | Oct 4, 2012 |
Anne Korkeakivi's debut novel is based on Mrs. Dalloway, with a well-to-do woman (here the wife of a British diplomat) planning an important dinner party while her life is upended. Clare has spent the past twenty years perfecting her job as a diplomat's wife, furthering his career by being discrete, decorative and an excellent guest and hostess. Their time in Paris is drawing to a close and he is angling to be next sent to Dublin instead of somewhere less comfortable and more obscure. A last minute request to host a dinner party could make or break his chances. Clare has never wanted to return to Ireland, after her one disastrous visit when she was twenty, but she's determined to support her husband; it's what she's always done. But the chance of an Irish posting is bringing forth memories, both pleasant and bitter. Her teenage son reappears that morning, unwilling to talk about some nebulous, but serious trouble he has gotten into at his boarding school back in England. The book follows Clare through her day, shopping for flowers and cheese, getting her hair done, delivering a translation she's finished, placating the cook and chatting with the guests.

An Unexpected Guest is a quiet novel; the turmoil is mostly internal, but that doesn't make it uneventful or boring. Korkeakivi writes confidently, and with an assurance not often found in a first novel. It's a pleasure to find a quiet book that isn't trite or whimsical. I'm eager to read whatever she next writes. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Sep 23, 2012 |
I loved this book! I thought it was many layered and intricate and beautifully written. I can see that it wouldn't appeal to everyone; however, I will probably read this book again to pick up nuances I didn't the first time.
  Debspage | Sep 19, 2012 |
Review:

Not every book has to be fast-paced in order to be entertaining, however, a slight increase in tempo would have been a welcome addition to An Unexpected Guest. The novel takes place in a single day - a deceivingly short amount of time - and chronicles Clare's preparations for a Parisian dinner party that could launch her diplomat husband's status. Each page is inundated with Clare's mental to-do lists, her thoughts, hopes, fears, interactions, and suspicions - every minute detail of her daily routine plotted meticulously, the pressure mounting with each passing hour. I love detail, especially flourishes of descriptive prose, and Anna Korkeakivi delivers a picturesque play-by-play of events. Unfortunately, by the novel's midpoint, the depictions have become monotonous, dawdling on like a Parisian soap-opera; without adequate action/drama and presenting too many unnecessary details. So much more could have been done with Clare's character, and I plodded on in search of any additional plot-lines that had potential, but the only real surprises were in the last three chapters, (no spoilers). I had never really read much about foreign diplomats before this book, but I like how Edward's job is explained and built upon, and I also enjoyed the view of Paris. Overall, a very interesting novel, but I felt that it lacked depth within the story-line and could have used some humor.

Rating: Bounty's Out (3/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. ( )
  Allizabeth | Jul 24, 2012 |
See the review "Deja vu? Deja ecrit?" on http://awayofwriting.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/deja-vu-deja-ecrit.html ( )
  michalsuz | Jun 19, 2012 |
Lackluster plot. I never could relate to the characters and knowing the background of the Irish Troubles, it was reaching to be believable. A dissappointment. ( )
  kmmt48 | Jun 10, 2012 |
I'm asking myself why Anne Korkeakivi's 'An Unexpected Guest' didn't work for me when it had such glowing reviews. Initially, I suppose, it was because the cover blurb compares Clare, the heroine, to Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. And while the two may be superficially similar, Clare is aloof, cold, and not especially interesting.

Add to that that it's yet another novel with a heavy-handed political agenda.

But, most importantly, it moved so slowly to a completely predictable conclusion. ( )
  dianaleez | May 26, 2012 |
Showing 8 of 8

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