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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review: The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

Publisher: Harper
Genre: Fiction, Edwardian
Hardcover, 272 pages
My Rating: 94/100
With some apprehension, the Torrington family is about to celebrate the twentieth birthday of Emerald, the second of three children. Their housekeeper, Florence, plans an elaborate dinner for the family and a few close friends. Charlotte and her children—the romantically handsome and callow Clovis; nine-year old Imogen, known as Smudge, who plots a “Great Undertaking” for the evening; and Emerald herself—are disconsolate at the thought of losing Sterne, their beloved family home.
Originally purchased by Horace Torrington, Charlotte’s first husband and the children’s father, Sterne has become too expensive for the financially strapped family to maintain. Since Horace’s death and Charlotte’s remarriage to Edward Swift, the house remains an important link to the past, a symbol of the family’s position that is intertwined with their sense of identity.
As Edward sets off for Manchester in hopes of obtaining a loan, the rest of the family begins preparing for the dinner party. An evening unlike any other awaits them. Little can the Torringtons imagine, that more than just a few intimate friends are about to arrive at Sterne . . .
My Thoughts:
Lovers of Edwardian stories, listen up!  This one is for you.  This story contains great examples of the Edwardian behavior that we love to read about: the pretense of perfection during a crisis, being super nice towards a person when inwardly you loathe or think ill of the other person, secrets between the staff and the Lady of the house, bickering between the servants, and of course the usual behavioral trappings that come with hosting a dinner for friends.  The Uninvited Guests, though short, gives insight into each character and by the end of the story we see them change for the better, due to circumstances that occur in story of course.

Speaking of the story, the arrival of a certain unexpected guest causes quite an upheaval.  Not only can this gentleman see through to the character's very core, but he makes them behave in the most impolite ways.  Or is it just their true feelings coming out,when they are not suppressed by Edwardian ideals?  Probably a bit of both I would imagine.  It's the characters behavior that drives the story and most of the action as well.  Some of it is quite appalling, but in the end everyone, even high minded John Buchanan becomes less of an ass.  

My favorite character is poor little Imogene, better known as Smudge.  Everyone forgets about her, and her "Great Undertaking" is hilarious.  Smudge is an odd child, but an innocent one nonetheless.  I think she just needs a little bit more love.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed The Uninvited Guests.  I apologize for the somewhat cryptic review, but I don't want to give plot points away.  It's such a short story, taking place over two days, mostly in one night.  There are some funny bits, head shaking bits, and redeeming bits, all with the idea of exploring human nature. This was a super quick read, and one would that I would read again.  

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for my review copy, and for other opinions of this delightful novel, please stop by one of the other tour sites:

Sadie’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, May 1st: “That’s Swell!”
Wednesday, May 2nd: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, May 3rd: Jenny Loves to Read
Monday, May 7th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, May 8th: Paperback Princess
Thursday, May 10th: Stiletto Storytime
Monday, May 14th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, May 15th: Amused By Books
Wednesday, May 16th: Unabridged Chick
Thursday, May 17th: Picky Girl
Friday, May 18th: Chaotic Compendiums
Monday, May 21st: Life In Review
Tuesday, May 22nd: Wordsmithonia
Wednesday, May 23rd: Colloquium
Monday, May 28th: My Bookshelf
Tuesday, May 29th: The House of the Seven Tails
Wednesday, May 30th: A Library of My Own

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