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The Uninvited Guests: A Novel
 
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The Uninvited Guests: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Sadie Jones
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Review

“A comedy of manners that turns downright surreal…Jones’s effervescent writing keeps the course steady-even as her characters shed their civilized veneers.” (Ellen Shapiro, People Four Star Review)

“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.” (Lev Grossman, Time Magazine)

“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.” (Mary Pols, San Francisco Chronicle)

“Delicious…comparisons with Downton Abbey will be both inevitable and fair.” (Wall Street Journal)

“…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.” (Maile Meloy, Nationally Bestselling Author of BOTH WAYS IS THE ONLY WAY I WANT IT)

“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.” (Sarah Blake, New York Times Bestselling Author of THE POSTMISTRESS)

“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.” (Ann Patchett, New York Times Bestselling Author of STATE OF WONDER)

“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.” (Jacqueline Winspear, New York Times Bestselling Author of ELEGY FOR EDDIE)

“A remarkable dark comedy...Jones’s characters are delightfully eccentric, the wit delightfully droll, and the prose simply delightful. But for all its charm, this is a serious book…” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“A delightful, eerie novel…Jones expertly balances the whimsical and the strange, building things to a climax of abandon, terror and restitution…Engrossing, enjoyable.” (Philip Womack, Telegraph)

“Excellent characterization…a plot sprinkled with hints of secrets to be revealed…a page-turning read that blurs the edges of the country house mystery.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“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.” (Atlantic Monthly)

“Enthralling…An English countryside setting, an ever-twisting plot, and gorgeously precise writing add up to one delightful novel.” (Martha Stewart Whole Living Magazine)

“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.” (USA Today)

“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.” (Robin Vivimos, Denver Post)

“’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.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“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…” (New York Times)

“…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.” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR)

“An enchanted new novel…[with] the sly, subversive dexterity of a Mozart opera or Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’” (Washington Post)

“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.” (New York Times Book Review)

Product Description

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.”

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 522 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (Feb. 20 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006ICVRCO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
2.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Uninvited Guests Aug. 4 2012
Format:Paperback
It is the late 1800s/early 1900s in northwest England. Edward Swift, second husband of the beautiful Charlotte Thompson, has set off for Manchester to see if he can wheedle money out of a wealthy but corrupt industrialist in order to save Sterne, the country manor house purchased by Charlotte's first husband, Horace Torrington, who was deep in debt at the time of his death. While Edward is gone, Charlotte and her eccentric children--Clovis, 20; Emerald, 19, and Smudge (Imogen), who is much younger--anticipate the arrival of the Suttons, the young adult children of Charlotte's childhood friend. It is daughter Emerald's twentieth birthday, and the house is abustle. When the Suttons are brought from the train station, they have news that an accident has occurred on the branch line. As there are no other residences nearby, the railway is asking that the family at Sterne accept the stranded passengers until proper arrangements can be made. One passenger, Charles Traversham-Beechers, is a particularly unwelcome guest. He knows Charlotte and possesses dark secrets about her past. Carrying with them the whiff of bodily corruption and decay, Traversham-Beechers and the other railway passengers cast a malevolent spell upon the household. Traversham-Beechers manages to get a seat at the table of the legitimate guests and persuades them to play a macabre game of 'Hind and Hounds', in which participants gang up on and bully each invited guest in turn. How the Swift/Torrington family, their invited guests--the Suttons, along with a wealthy upcoming mill owner, John Buchanan--and the housekeeper, Florence Trieves, cope with the uninvited ones forms the plot of the story. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts... Dec 30 2012
By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
"The Uninvited Guests" opens at the beginning of the 1900s on the day of Emerald Torrington’s 20th birthday party. Emerald’s stepfather, Edward Swift, has departed for Manchester to try and borrow money to keep the family in their dilapidated country manor, Sterne. As the rest of the household prepares for birthday guests, a railway accident on a nearby branch line suddenly leaves the family responsible for a group of dazed third-class passengers.

One sinister yet oddly appealing traveller, Charlie Traversham-Beechers, begins charming Emerald’s brother while Emerald’s mother recognizes the guest with horror. As a storm rages outside, Traversham-Beechers takes control of the evening and finally reveals his purpose for being there in a splendidly awful climax. The tension then lessens but Sadie Jones continues to keep our interest. How will the characters repair the damage they have inflicted on one another? Will initial intimations of love and attraction be irretrievably destroyed by the night’s unexpected brutalities?

This novel takes an uncomfortably close look at how decent people can abandon their best selves in a crowd. Jones firmly tethers her characters to the period and displays a deep understanding of her craft. Structurally strong, polished and composed with clean, clear prose, Jones has written a charming and elegant novel.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to like it more..... Nov. 1 2012
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I chose to listen to Sadie Jones's latest book - The Uninvited Guests. I was glad I did, as the book had the feel of a radio play to me.

1912. A rambling old manor in England. It is the night of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. Preparations have been made and guests invited. But a nearby railway accident results in the house and party acquiring many more guests from that crash. The family is able to stow most of them away in the morning room. But one gentleman brashly joins the family at their dining table. And his presence takes the night into darker territory in more ways than one....

Jones captures the "I daresay old chap" attitude and dialogue perfectly. Kate Reading was the reader. I had a bit of an issue with her voice at first as I had recently listened to her read another book that I didn't overly enjoy. I had to separate that character from this book. However, she is an excellent reader. She has a British accent, but one that is easily understood. She enunciates very clearly and has a different way of placing emphasis on certain words by either drawing them out or biting them off. She portrayed both male, female and child roles with very different (and believable) voices, matching them well to the characters.

The first three quarters of the book is character driven. Jones excels at manipulating her characters and our reactions towards them. Things change rapidly as the night goes on and so do our players. I quite enjoyed this dark interplay. However I can only describe the last quarter of the book as, well - odd. I wasn't exactly surprised at the direction the story took - there were enough allusions to guess. But what had me scratching my head were some of the things that did happen - they seemed forced into the story for I'm not sure what reason.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not worth the read Aug. 28 2012
By tally
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this was a book club book that we had to read...and even the person who picked it apologized to us half way through. Made little sense, boring, drole, and good if you have the most driest sense of humor. not going to read this again.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  223 reviews
62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Invite into an Imaginative Romp March 15 2012
By Cheddie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Sadie Jones is touted as a superb storyteller on the book's cover, and "The Uninvited Guests" is a ripping yarn, an imaginative, hybrid cross between Downton Abbey (the setting is the early 20th century in a grand old English manor house) and the Twilight Zone. Facing financial difficulties, father Edward departs to try to save their home, Sterne, leaving Charlotte and her children Clovis, Emerald, and Imogen ("Smudge") home alone, but not for long. It's Emerald's birthday, and her party guests are soon joined by the uninvited guests - hungry, tired survivors of a nearby train crash who fill up the vacant downstairs rooms, and one malevolent interloper, Charles Traversham-Beechers.

Over the course of a dramatic evening, as they say, all hell breaks loose. It's difficult to say much about the wild events that occur without spoiling the fun, but readers are treated to a particularly nasty after-dinner game that turns partiers into prey; an absurdist romp by Smudge with a favored animal; a breakdown of class barriers between the family cook and a buttoned-down gentleman; scandalous skeletons being cruelly pulled from the closet; and a hectic, madcap Marx Brothers-like romp through house and literally through walls towards the surprising denouement. It's a story that has stuck with me for some time after closing the book, as Jones does a marvelous job in placing you smack into the middle of her rowdy romp. The pace accelerates throughout this suspenseful novel, so plan on setting things aside for time with the Torrington family.
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book March 24 2012
By Sid Nuncius - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I thought this was an excellent book - well-written, imaginative and thoughtful. Set in a pre-First World War country house, preparations for a birthday party are disrupted by the arrival of a rather mysterious group of strangers who need shelter after being involved in a train accident nearby. The disorder they bring to the mannered Edwardian world has profound consequences for the house's occupants. Although it is very different from either, I found echoes in the book of Priestley's An Inspector Calls and the Nicole Kidman film The Others. Its unusual premise may not be to everyone's taste but I found the whole thing engrossing and it has stayed with me strongly after finishing the book.

Initially I wondered whether it was a little over-written and whether I really cared enough about these people to want to read a whole novel about them. However, it gradually drew me in and quite soon had me spellbound. The characters are well drawn and a subtle, growing sense of menace develops. There is a delicate, inexplicit parallel between the loss of physical order and of the manners and conventions on which the characters have depended, and I thought the fracturing and eventual shattering of this reserve and the effect of this on each of them was very well drawn. Sadie Jones also draws a believable and touching portrait of how propriety, self-absorption and a rigid, misguided sense of duty can smother character and humanity, and how shared adversity can allow genuine human contact to restore them. She also reminds us of the overwhelming importance of simple kindness between people.

The writing style fits the story very well. To try to give you a flavour, after the guests have been fed she says, "Although they were, for the moment, satisfied, their mood had not greatly improved. If anything, there was an increased atmosphere of need; they seemed to suck the very air from the room with their opaque desires." I loved Jones's writing, which becomes almost poetic at the climax of the book.

I am puzzled by some descriptions of this book as a comedy, which I think are inaccurate. I didn't think it was intended as a comedy - I found it involving, thoughtful and ultimately very touching. I think it is an excellent book and recommend it very warmly.
102 of 123 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars With such unlovely characters, where should I start? March 5 2012
By J. Lesley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Whether it was this author's intention or not, she succeeded in making me dislike three of the members of the family who are pivotal to this story. Charlotte Torrington Swift is the mother of Emerald and Clovis. The novel states they are nineteen and twenty respectively, but that tripped me up somewhat because on the day this story happens Emerald is having her twentieth birthday. So at this point they are both twenty? But don't worry about that little detail, there will be much more serious problems with this novel than to worry about how many months there were between the births of Charlotte's two eldest children. All three of these characters are self-indulgent, conceited, arrogant, lazy, and cruel in certain ways. How was I ever supposed to enjoy the book when the characters were so unlikeable?

The story takes place in the early 1900's on an isolated English country estate which has been the home of the Torrington children all their lives. Now, because of the late Horace Torrington's heavy debts, the estate will be lost unless Edward Swift, Charlotte's second husband, can acquire a loan from a man he despises. Edward lost one arm in a carriage accident when he was a young man and these two insensitive and cruel "children" actually make fun of him and use this as one reason they dislike him so much. (Even this early on in the novel I was rooting for Edward to not get the loan, chuck the bums out, and tell them to get their hands dirty and do something useful.) So, back to our synopsis. Guests begin to arrive for Emerald's birthday celebration dinner later in the evening but along with them come a group of people who were in a railway disaster which resulted in many deaths. The Swift home is to be used until the railroad company can arrange for these people to be accommodated elsewhere. Among this group comes someone from Charlotte's past. I really don't think I've ever read a novel which portrayed characters showing such callous disregard for the suffering of others. I understand it was a necessary part of the story, but I kept finding myself shaking my head in disbelief.

I was very disappointed in the novel because I had been looking forward to reading it so much. This is one where I should have adhered to my 100 page rule. I didn't like the first 100 pages but I kept on reading. The next 160 did not get any better at all. I think the author tried to be different, quirky, clever and so she wrote in an older style and tried to start with her characters at their worst in order to rehabilitate them along the way, but that process took much too long for it to work for me. The only reason for two stars from me instead of one is that I have recently found the absolute worst book I've ever read. This is marginally better than that one.
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a surprise Feb. 27 2012
By Susan Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I was surprised that this book received 5 stars from some of the reviewers. Did they read the same book I did? I read the yawn inspiring novel of an English family in a country manor house set in the early 1900's. I think the writing style was supposed to be imitative of the writing style of the time in the book. It's like a stuffed chair that just enfolds you in the softness of it. You just sink into a dazed sleep.
I found nothing likable about this book. I didn't like a single character. You really don't get to know them. Somehow it seems like it was written by someone holding them at arm's length. You can see them and interact but never get close to them. There was a long extended scene of the youngest child, Smudge, who smuggles a horse into her upstairs bedroom. It was like fingernails on a chalkboard. You just wanted it to be over but no- it went on and on.
There was a twist at the end although it had been telegraphed throughout. It might have been interesting if you cared about the people in the story or in the story itself. But by the time, the punch gets there, you are tired and really don't care. You just want to be put out of your misery.
It's been a long time, thankfully, that I've read a book this bad. Here's my recommendation: run and read something else. A real book with a story you can care about and characters you can get involved. Anything would be better than this.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I Want My Money Back! Aug. 2 2012
By Gwen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Do not believe the reviews or cover jacket for this book! What is described as a a "shimmering comedy of manners" and an "amusing Edwardian country house romp" with a touch of sinister and dark secrets, is in reality a dull, poorly written book with such obvious plot contrivances that I had the ending figured out as soon as the "uninvited guests" arrived. There is absolutely no logic or build up to the ridiculous ending and everyone behaves pretty abominably to each other while the reader plods on, waiting for something worthwhile to happen. The ending wasn't "surprising" or "astonishing" and I was literally groaning with dissapointment as I read it. I actually laughed while reading the climatic scene in Charlotte's bedroom. The writer's attempts to make this scene seem horrifying are a joke. This couldn't scare a 5 year old. This is possibly the worst book I've ever read.
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