Customer Reviews for

An Unexpected Guest: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
( 12 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    Split Decision

    This is a beautifully and thoughtfully written book that deserves 5 stars for sheer craft and quality of writing.

    At the same time, however, the plot has all the excitement of excavating one's toenails on a Friday night while everyone else you know is out at a party. There is no way a book like that deserves 5 stars.

    Painful, endless chapters are spent musing on the personality of the florist, the touchiness of the Swiss-Scottish cook, the stupidity of Claire's young attraction to a profoundly unattractive young IRA adherent with a chip the size of the island itself on his shoulder.

    Fully 80 percent of the book is devoted to detailing the daily minutiae of a political hostess preparing for a dinner. How many steps to the room where the place card holders were? Oh the suspense: will she get the place cards written before she decides to get dressed, or after? Will she be able to drop off her translation at the museum down the block today, or will it have to wait until tomorrow?

    These details are used to great effect to show how Claire is frozen in indecision, using life as a shield behind which to hide herself. However, the net effect is extremely pedantic and unattractive. Not until the end, when she casts aside her shield and finally takes decisive action, does she (and the book) suddenly become anywhere near interesting and worth reading. Unfortunately, I had to force myself to pick the book back up at least 10 different times to get there.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Unexpectedly Decent


    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2013

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