Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones



The Uninvited Guests
by Sadie Jones
Harper, 2012
272 pages

Book Description:
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. (from amazon.com)

My thoughts:

I'll admit to being initially drawn to The Uninvited Guests by the cover. Shallow, I know, but there you have it. When positive reviews began appearing around the blogosphere, I added my name to the library hold list and reached the top in just a few weeks. At home, I was delighted to discover the novel has gorgeous endpapers, too. This is a very visually appealing book!

The Edwardian Era setting helped satisfy my Downton Abbey withdrawal syndrome, and I immediately enjoyed the author's use of language - so smart and witty. Several laugh-out-loud moments had my family raising eyebrows and glancing in my direction. The novel was a quick read and I finished the final half in a single afternoon, an unusual occurrence for me.

My verdict? Enjoyable overall, yet it fell short of my expectations. The story seemed a little flat and the macabre plot elements just seemed weird. I was expecting more to be made of Smudge's drawings, especially since they adorn the endpapers. The characters, in general, weren't especially likable and I never really cared about any of them.

I found myself thinking about the book for several days after finishing. My appreciation may have increased slightly, yet I still can't muster more than a 'good' rating.


My rating:




Bottom line: A good book, but ultimately disappointing... probably due to my heightened expectations.






21 comments:

  1. Well, shoot. I haven't read it yet and was hoping you would have enjoyed it immensely. ;) I was drawn to the cover, too.

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    1. Georgia Girls - Well, I did start out enjoying it immensely. The finish just left me a little flat.

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  2. I've been seeing a lot of reviews like yours - it's good but falls short. My library has a copy so I still want to give it a go one of these days.

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    1. Darlene - It' still a good book. I was just disappointed because I was expecting a great book.

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  3. I rated it 4/5 I believe, not perfect by any means but enjoyable---and bonus points for the cover...LOL

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    1. Diane - LOL! Definitely bonus points for the cover.

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  4. Like Diane, I enjoyed the book. However I can recognize how other people feel about it. I wish I could be a fly at all the book group discussions since it generates such mixed reviews.

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    1. Pburt - I wonder how members of my book club would feel about this...they surprised me last time with reaction to The Three Weissmanns of Westpost.

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  5. I read Sadie Jones debut novel The Outcast a couple of years ago and Small Wars is on our to read bookshelves, despite your disappointment your review has piqued my interest enough to add to my wishlist.
    By the way I hope you will enjoy my reviews and sharing our little piece of Italy, thanks for the follows.

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    1. LindyLouMac - Even though I didn't love the book, I enjoyed Jones' writing and would be happy to read her earlier novels.

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  6. This looks like the sort of book that would be great for lounging by the pool! Thanks to your review, I won't expect too much -- I'll just be looking for a fun time. :)

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    1. Diana - Perfect! If you begin with that attitude, I'm sure you will enjoy it.

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  7. Hm. I had really high hopes for this book after you posted the first paragraphs but now, I'm not so sure if I want to read it. It sounds okay - but I have so many other books I want to read so I think I'm going to pass on this one. Despite it's gorgeous cover ;-)

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    1. Christina - I loved the beginning of the book! The writing is very sharp and clever but, by the end I could only say it was good, not great.

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  8. Now you make another so-so outcome review to add to my list and to get my wheels spinning about whether or not I should read this one. My expectations are pretty high too so I just might brush this one to the side and in the future if I come across it, I may check it out from my library! Excellent review!

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    1. Staci - I think reading it sometime in the future (and borrowing it from the library) is a good idea. I'm afraid my expectations were just too high this time.

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  10. I've been really drawn to this one, mostly because of the cover I think. Bummer that it didn't work out for you! The criticism I've heard echoes yours, though--not very likable characters that are difficult to connect with.

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    1. Trish - This was a good book, but since I was expecting to love it, I ended up a little disappointed. I don't want to discourage anyone from reading it... just beware of hype and expectations.

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  11. I just dropped it after 100+ pages. It seemed stupid to me. I can sorta take weird, but these people weren't like real people to me.

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    1. Nan - I enjoyed the opening very much, but it seemed to lose steam quickly after that. The characters certainly weren't like any 'real' people I know, which is probably a good thing ;-)

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