review: The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
on Goodreads.com: A haunting, affecting new novel from the internationally bestselling, award-winning author of The Outcast.
It’s rural England, just after the turn of the last century. Charlotte married Edward Shift after the sudden death of her first husband, Horace Torrington. They live at Sterne, the home they are in danger of losing due to a financial crisis, with Charlotte’s 3 children: Emerald, Clovis and Smudge. On the day of Emerald’s birthday party, a terrible train wreck occurs on a branch line and the stranded passengers seek refuge at Sterne. Among these passengers is Charlie Traversham-Beechers, a sketchy figure from Charlotte’s past. This unusual guest list makes for an unforgettable birthday celebration for Emerald and an evening of the past literally coming back to haunt Charlotte.
Shannan’s Take: I love stories about relationships. I especially love stories with a bit of magic in them. What started out as a quaint read about a family in the 1920′s and their beloved estate became a story about secrets, love, and a whole lot of peculiar situations en-laced with pure magic. Not fairy magic mind you. Deep rooted lustful magic.
It’s not necessarily what I expected once I read half the book (which could have been fantastic) but alas left me with just a few questions.
1. Who is the lady who left Smudge the money?
2. What got into John Buchanan? I hate that he ended up being happy. Sorry.
3. Why did USA Today pick this as one of their weekend book picks? Like Downton Abbey? We all wish!
Nancy’s Take: I was hoping this would be a wry, farcical English story along the lines of a manners comedy. It was more of a wanna-be manners tale that turned into Gothic horror, and the bits meant to be funny ha-ha were just funny weird. In fact, the whole tale was on the bizarre side.
The characters were mostly unlikeable. Charlotte was self-absorbed and obsessed with status and keeping the house; Clovis was a jerk; even Emerald was a bit insensitive and foolish. Youngest daughter Smudge (real name Imogen, but what a nickname for a child!) was likeable and a tad pitiful, but she at least gave us a bit of comic relief.