The Uninvited Guests

The Uninvited Guests

3.1 70
by Sadie Jones
     
 

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A grand old manor house deep in the English countryside will open its doors to reveal the story of an unexpectedly dramatic day in the life of one eccentric, rather dysfunctional, and entirely unforgettable family. Set in the early years of the twentieth century, award-winning author Sadie Jones’s The Uninvited Guests is, in the words of Jacqueline…  See more details below

Overview

A grand old manor house deep in the English countryside will open its doors to reveal the story of an unexpectedly dramatic day in the life of one eccentric, rather dysfunctional, and entirely unforgettable family. Set in the early years of the twentieth century, award-winning author Sadie Jones’s The Uninvited Guests is, in the words of Jacqueline Winspear, the New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs mysteries A Lesson in Secrets and Elegy for Eddie, “a sinister tragi-comedy of errors, in which the dark underbelly of human nature is revealed in true Shakespearean fashion.”

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Lightness—by which I mean the sly, subversive dexterity of a Mozart opera or Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream—is the elusive quality that Jones's enchanted new novel reaches for, and lightness is what it achieves…Jones…remind[s] us how porous the barrier is between all distinctions, in art as well as in society. Whatever our station, we are all the uninvited guests in this life, she's telling us, with a duty to treat others as we would ourselves. She manages to make these old truths seem new and does so with the haunting lightness of a dream.
—Donna Rifkind
The New York Times Book Review
…a delicious tea sandwich of genres set in post-Edwardian England…in varying parts drawing-­room comedy, ghost story, horse story and, most improbably, love story…[Jones's] command of period archness tips its hat to a pantheon of social satirists: Luis Buñuel in cahoots with Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen.
—Jan Stuart
Publishers Weekly
Sterne, the English country house at the center of this remarkable dark comedy, is home to the Torringtons—mother Charlotte, a widow now married to Edward Swift; children Emerald, Clovis, and “Smudge”; and an assortment of faithful staff. Set sometime in the early part of the 20th century, somewhere in the north of England (the ambiguity is telling), the novel takes place over a single day, April 30. A celebration is underway for Emerald’s 20th birthday, and what appears to be a Wodehouseian comedy with a touch of Dodie Smith is derailed when a local train jumps its track, soon filling Sterne with stranded, shocked passengers. The “uninvited guests” are decidedly lower class and deliberately indistinct, but for one notable exception: Charlie Traversham-Beechers, who seems to know a good deal about the family, particularly Charlotte. Jones’s (Small Wars) characters are delightfully eccentric, the wit delightfully droll, and the prose simply delightful. But for all its charm, this is a serious book; it’s no coincidence that the new day dawning at its close is May Day, or International Workers’ Day, though Jones’s theme is less class warfare than the seemingly absolute divide between the classes. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, the Gernert Company. (May 1)
Lev Grossman
"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."
Mary Pols
"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."
Maile Meloy
"…THE UNINVITED GUESTS…defied my expectations. I saw none of it coming. I read it in one breathless sitting, and finished wanting to give it to everyone I know."
Sarah Blake
"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."
Ann Patchett
"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."
Jacqueline Winspear
"What opens as an amusing Edwardian country house tale soon becomes a sinister tragi-comedy of errors…in true Shakespearean fashion. Sadie Jones is a most talented and imaginative storyteller."
Philip Womack
"A delightful, eerie novel…Jones expertly balances the whimsical and the strange, building things to a climax of abandon, terror and restitution…Engrossing, enjoyable."
Robin Vivimos
"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."
Maureen Corrigan
"…a delicious romp to read…Jones’ novel is as tightly constructed as one of those elaborate corsets that the Crawley women squeeze into to sashay around the drawing rooms at Downton."
Wall Street Journal
"Delicious…comparisons with Downton Abbey will be both inevitable and fair."
Atlantic Monthly
"Jones’ clever prose and bright tone heighten her characters and setting…she adroitly draws the layers of character that are exposed as shameful secrets come to light."
Martha Stewart Whole Living Magazine
"Enthralling…An English countryside setting, an ever-twisting plot, and gorgeously precise writing add up to one delightful novel."
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."
Christian Science Monitor
"’Downton Abbey’ takes a turn for the supernatural in Sadie Jones’s stylishly eccentric comedy of manners THE UNINVITED GUESTS...Anglophiles who admire a biting sense of humor and a tinge of the Gothic, pull up a chair."
New York Times
"Ms. Jones’s comedy of manners, which takes place over a single evening in 1912, gleefully exposes the family members’ snobbery… The author can’t resist harassing the Torringtons with the menace in the next room…"
Washington Post
"An enchanted new novel…[with] the sly, subversive dexterity of a Mozart opera or Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’"
New York Times Book Review
"The author’s command of period archness tips its hat to a pantheon of social satirists: Luis Buñuel in cahoots with Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen. Jones’s caustic takedown of 1-percenter exceptionalism arrives like a divine gift to occupying party poopers everywhere."
Ellen Shapiro
"A comedy of manners that turns downright surreal…Jones’s effervescent writing keeps the course steady-even as her characters shed their civilized veneers."
Kirkus Reviews
Strange goings-on at an Edwardian country house. Jones (Small Wars, 2010, etc.) quickly establishes a tension-riddled scenario. Charlotte Torrington Swift is in danger of losing Sterne, the grand manor bought for her by her adoring first husband, who couldn't afford it and died leaving a pile of debts. Second husband Edward is off to Manchester to try and save Sterne—not that this wins him any favor from petulant Clovis and Emerald, who have never liked their stepfather. Edward will miss Emerald's 20th birthday party, to which childhood friends Patience and Ernest Sutton have been invited; spoiled but good-natured Emerald worries that the clever, unfashionable siblings will be rudely treated by her ill-tempered brother and their status-obsessed mother. Circumstances become even more unpromising with the arrival of survivors of a terrible crash on the nearby branch line, whom the Great Central Railway informs Charlotte will have to be hosted overnight. There's something very odd about these passengers, and odder still about Charlie Traversham-Beechers, another survivor and an old acquaintance of Charlotte's, though she's clearly alarmed to see him. Traversham-Beechers is invited to the awkward birthday dinner, while housekeeper Florence Trieves struggles to find food for his increasingly rowdy fellow passengers. He uses a self-invented game, Hinds and Hounds, to encourage the airing of everyone's unpleasant opinions about each other, and the game ends with Traversham-Beechers' ugly revelations about Charlotte's past. At this point, what seemed to be a savage comedy of manners takes a 90-degree turn and becomes a supernatural confection. There's no question about Jones' skill—the novel is cleverly constructed and written in smooth prose. It's quite a step down in ambition and moral seriousness, however, from her two previous novels. The nasty climax to Hinds and Hounds, obviously intended to make a statement about the human capacity for evil, has its impact muffled by the deliberately implausible happy ending, modeled on a Shakespearean romance. A peculiar change of pace for this gifted author.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062116536
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/01/2012
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
204,547
File size:
500 KB

What People are saying about this

Mary Pols
“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.”
Sarah Blake
“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.”
Robin Vivimos
“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.”
Jacqueline Winspear
“What opens as an amusing Edwardian country house tale soon becomes a sinister tragi-comedy of errors…in true Shakespearean fashion. Sadie Jones is a most talented and imaginative storyteller.”
Philip Womack
“A delightful, eerie novel…Jones expertly balances the whimsical and the strange, building things to a climax of abandon, terror and restitution…Engrossing, enjoyable.”
Maureen Corrigan
“…a delicious romp to read…Jones’ novel is as tightly constructed as one of those elaborate corsets that the Crawley women squeeze into to sashay around the drawing rooms at Downton.”
Ann Patchett
“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.”
Maile Meloy
“…THE UNINVITED GUESTS…defied my expectations. I saw none of it coming. I read it in one breathless sitting, and finished wanting to give it to everyone I know.”
Lev Grossman
“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.”

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Meet the Author

Sadie Jones is the author of four novels, including The Outcast, winner of the Costa First Novel Award in Great Britain and a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize/Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, Small Wars, and the bestselling The Uninvited Guests. She lives in London.

Customer Reviews

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The Uninvited Guests 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Ixachel More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read The Uninvited Guests from the moment I heard about the book. Imagine my joy, then, when I won an advance reader copy on Goodreads! Sadie Jones’ The Uninvited Guests introduces us to the eccentric, dysfunctional Torrington-Swift family. There is the self-centered Charlotte Torrington-Swift, her doting second husband Edward Swift, and the three children of her previous marriage: Clovis, Emerald, and Imogen (aka Smudge). They live at Stern, a stately manor in the English countryside, but financial issues could mean them losing it. Edward is off to secure funds to save the home while those left behind celebrate Emeralds twentieth birthday. Then, disaster. A train accident sends some restless uninvited guests their way, including one Charles Traversham-Beechers. He claims to know of Charlotte's past, and he may just be wicked enough to reveal it. Of all the characters, the most likeable may be Emerald, the capable yet resigned-to-her-fate birthday girl, followed closely by her odd and neglected sister Smudge. Clovis is quite the snob, and Charlotte an absent and vain mother. We also meet the Swift-Torrington housekeepers Myrtle and Florence, and the guests invited to Emeralds soiree: John Buchanan, Ernest and Patience Sutton, and, of course, Charles Traversham-Beechers. They range from the bland to the vicious, though some change their tune by the books end. The story itself is very entertaining and well written. Told in third-persons, the narration is funny, witty, and just a bit quirky. I found myself laughing on quite a few occassions. Many that books that claim to be humorous satire rarely hit their mark for me, but this book had its true laugh-out-loud moments. Though a satire, a comedy of manners, the bigger message of the novel is not lost. We see the worst brought out in these society folk, both in how they treat each other and how they treat those they believe are beneath them. But we also see them grow and learn. Some, as I’ve mentioned, mature greatly through the novel and are changed for the better by the experience. This book is clever, funny, and thoroughly entertaining. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys satirical novels, and anyone who wants a good look at human nature at its best and worst. Or just anyone looking for a wildly adventurous and truly bizarre tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my wife but needed a quick read so I picked it up. Normally this is not a genre I would read. The characters were well developed and while the plot at the beginning was not overly compelling there was enough interest in the characters to keep going. Once the uninvited guests arrive the story takes some interesting twists which I won't reveal here lest I spoil the plot. I'll just say the novel goes where I had no idea it was headed based on the start. Overall it was an enjoyable read.
mmr More than 1 year ago
I liked this book but it is not for everyone. It is a Austen-like mystery.
nikkino More than 1 year ago
This was an enchanting book. It was beautifully written and the tale was beautifully woven. I felt like I was there, and I was sad when the book ended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not quite sure how to describe this book. I enjoyed, it but at the same time, found it a bit fragmented. It almost seemd as though the author shifted the story line while writing this book. It seemd to take a twist that didn't quite flow as smooth as it should have. Still, I did find I wanted to keep reading to see what happened next.
shirleeanne More than 1 year ago
Didn't find it entertaining. Maybe because I didn't get the British humor. I thought it was boring and too imaginary.
Rosebud100 More than 1 year ago
I couldn't finish this book. The plot was so silly and ridiculous. I wasn't entertained nor did I care what happened to anyone in the book. What is the point of reading the novel when you have lost all interest in it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this based on a recommendation in Family Circle magazine. Was extremely disappointed. Cliched characters, situations introduced and left unresolved, and the supernatural element was clumsily addressed. I'm willing to suspend disbelief, but not for writing as poor as this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It isn't funny, intriguing, scarey, mysterious - I really can't find anything to recommend it. The characters aren't quirky enough to carry it off as a comedy, and too dysfunctional to participate in their own tale. And the ending, well predictable and dull.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Strange. So strange. Odd storyline with many unbelievable elements and no feeling of connection to any characters. Wish I'd saved my money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To buy and read this book???! From the very first page, I knew I wasn't going to like it. Well, I was wrong: I hated it. You think the story is about one thing, then it goes another way, makes another turn, then ends up back at the beginning. And the characters are awful people, for the most part. You have to give the author credit for getting it published, though. Not sure how, but she did.
booksandteainthemorning More than 1 year ago
This is an unusual tale with a few twists. British siblings Emerald, Clovis, and Smudge prepare to celebrate Emerald's birthday. Many "uninvited guests" arrive, creating stress for all, including the staff and the narcissistic mother. I enjoyed the humorous dialogue between Emerald and Clovis; however, I believe the plot could have been more developed, particularly, in the middle and end of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldnt get into it. I dont like not even finishing a book, just cant sorry
Babette-dYveine More than 1 year ago
This was one of the weirdest books I have ever read.  It was difficult to follow and I couldn't figure out what was happening.  Was it supposed to be a ghost story, a satire or what?  I finished it because once I begin a book I want to know what happens, but I didn't find the ending satisfying at all.
kyohin More than 1 year ago
I'm giving this three stars, but I have never really come down on the side of recommending it to anyone. I don't mind odd stories, but this oddity did not intrigue me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
On the heels of Downton Abbey wrapping up a second season, I was very eager to stay connected to this time period in England and The Uninvited Guests was a strong recommend. While I enjoyed the book, the cold dreariness of the characters made it difficult to have much of an emotional connection, with the exception of the neglected daughter, Smudge (who provides the reader with a little quirkiness and humor). The story takes a sudden (and yet predictable) turn and leaves the reader wanting more than what the ending offered. While the book certainly didn't meet my expectations, I would recommend it as "filler reading" between better book choices.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept the interest going . Full of eccentric characters with many twist and turns . Enjoyable read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting. Fans of Downton Abbey will love this book. It reads like fiction and almost hard to believe that this woman lived this life. I loved it.
Whodunnit More than 1 year ago
I was intrigued by this book's description, and curious at some of the negative reviews, but fortunately I went with the more positive ones and purchased it anyway. And I'm glad I did. I might add that I'm in my 60's and have read a mountain of books in my lifetime. When I was young and attempted reading books by the Brontes and Jane Austin, I admit I was a little overwhelmed. I didn't truly appreciated them or British humor until I was more mature. I found the book to be a delight. I love descriptive books with interesting characters and odd "happenings". It's all very Dickensian. And yes it's not roll on the floor laughing humor, but it's low key chuckling humor.  This is a book you want to savor and take time understanding all the description and nuances that bring the story to life. It's not a fast read, and it's not saturated with sex, violence and grossness, which is the standard for many books today. This author used a tasteful style not often used anymore, and the story felt more authentic because of it. There's a lot of substance to this story. It's one I will remember.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
QueSeraSera More than 1 year ago
I thought this would be a lot better than it actually was.  It starts off strong but I honestly couldn't wait to get it over with.  The characters (especially the mother) are not very likeable and many times during the novel I wanted to smack them upside the head to get them to do the right thing.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this would be a Georgette Heyer type novel. It was not. It was okay reading but at 64 I'm not so much into the supernatural/undead which was definitely a big component of this book. I enjoyed it but wouldn't read another like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BOOO!!!hi!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago