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The Uninvited Guests Hardcover – 22 Mar 2012

2.9 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (22 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701186712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701186715
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.7 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 419,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The Uninvited Guests is at once a shimmering comedy of manners and disturbing commentary on class. It is so well-written, so intricately plotted, that every page delivers some new astonishment. It is a brilliant novel" (Ann Patchett, author of 'State of Wonder')

"Dazzlingly well-written. The style is exuberant and extremely funny. This is a midsummer's night dream of a book, mythic and unforgettable" (Financial Times)

"Cooly playful...the luscious prose is precisely steered" (Helen Dunmore Guardian)

"Jones exhibits the attention to detail for which she has previously been praised, and her descriptions are memorable. The Uninvited Guests is a bizarre and exuberant comedy of manners, combining elements of romance with those of the carnival...it is a great deal of fun, and a welcome alternative to more traditional country-house dramas" (Hannah Rosefield Literary Review)

"What a delicious read! Like something written by a wicked Jane Austen, here is love and error in a ramshackle manor house complete with railway survivors, a birthday party and a pony. I was completely captivated by its madcap nature and then, utterly unprepared for the strange fruit that the story became. Passing like a spring fever, here is a fairy tale that stays with you long after it is gone. I couldn't put it down" (Sarah Blake, author of 'The Postmistress')

Book Description

The prizewinning and No 1 bestselling author Sadie Jones moves to a gorgeous and bewitching historical setting in a blissful new novel full of spooky surprises

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Downton Abbey its not. Forget about ghastly stereotypes and predictable "spot it coming a mile off" plot lines. This is a really clever, imaginative and totally gripping story about an Edwardian country house full of people in crisis in different and surprising ways. Parts are deliberately creepy but not in an obvious or explicit way - its subtle and pleasantly surprising. Other parts are very funny. One of the newpaper reviews said it was a "Midsummer Night's Dream of a story" and that its actually a wonderful description. Its not too heavy going at all - I got enthralled about half way through and had to read the whole second half one evening, which I did easily. I loved it. As long as you are not expecting a period drama with "lovely frocks" then you probably will too!
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Format: Hardcover
This is a bizarre and fantastic story, which takes place over 24 hours in Sterne – a substantial English country house. But the Swifts, the impoverished owners, are in danger of losing its beloved home. There is no definite indication of the time in which the story is set, but clues suggest it is in the years leading up to the First World War. While Edward Swift goes to Manchester to seek a financial arrangement to save the house, his rather eccentric family – his wife Charlotte and newly-acquired stepchildren focus on the 20th birthday of Emerald and the visitors to Sterne who are to help celebrate the day. However, plans are thrown into confusion when there is an accident on the local branch railway line and the bedraggled survivors are sent to Sterne to rest until they can be collected by the rail company. However, it soon becomes apparent to the reader that all is not as it first seems. One of the uninvited guests invites himself into the birthday celebrations and is known to the mother, Charlotte, from her younger days in London. He instigates a thoroughly unpleasant party game in which some home truths are revealed. Henceforth, the night descends into a painful and supernatural farce.
This is very different from the author’s previous two novels, both of which I have read and enjoyed; these were serious affairs about human relationships. Although The Uninvited Guests covers the same themes, the mood is very different – a sort of nastily humorous version of Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger. Sadie Jones has an excellent and acute observant eye for the nuances of human behaviour and her powers of description are impressive, with the setting vividly presented and tale well narrated.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was really looking forward to reading this book, but it was such a disappointment. I just didn't get the point of it at all.

I have to admit I had to finish it because I hate not finishing a book, and wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt, to see if it actually got any better. However, it did not. I did not care for any of the characters, and there was definitely no tension whatsoever. I'm just astounded this ever got published. There was no proper plot, and the majority of it was ridiculous and predictable. Very, very disappointing. I wish I hadn't wasted my money!
2 Comments 13 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of Sadie Jones' Outcast and Small Wars so this was a shock have to say. Nearly
'didn't carry on after the first few pages as a result - it was so bad, but glad I did as it developed into a quite gripping fantasy I really got into.
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Format: Paperback
Horace Torrington, once owner of an 18th century manor house called Sterne, is dead and his widow Charlotte and their children now occupy the house. Charlotte, much to the chagrin of her children, has now married Edward Swift who, as the story opens, is departing the estate in hopes of acquiring a loan to save the family manor.

Set in England in 1912 the Torrington-Swift family is preparing to celebrate the 20th birthday of middle daughter Emerald. Even though the family is in dire need of funds and obviously living far beyond their means, an over the top celebration has been orchestrated with family and friends invited to the festivities. Plans go awry when a train accident occurs nearby and some of the individuals involved, most of whom were “third-class” travelers, arrive at the estate seeking assistance and disrupting the flavor of Emerald’s special evening. Among the uninvited guests is Charlie Traversham-Beechers, a malevolent character from Charlotte’s rather questionable past who shows up claiming to be a survivor from first class.

An ensuing storm, uncooperative guests and an unusual parlor game add tension and threaten the evening in this tome that takes extreme delight in dissecting the pretension and stagnant social mores prevalent in Edwardian England.

While Sadie Jones writing is descriptive and delves into the minutia of everything from the servants to the preparation of the dinner being served, it is also much in keeping with the behavior of the residents of Sterne and overall tone of the story – stuffy.
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Format: Paperback
A chilling and unsettling novel set in the claustrophobic atmosphere of a country house over one day and night. A sense of real menace underlies the majority of the story making for uncomfortable reading, but it's very effectively done. There is also something surreal about the set-up, not quite magic realist but certainly bizarre.

The characters are a strange, disparate group, but believable enough within the parameters set by the novel. Certain elements of their pasts and personalities remain unclear, which adds to the surreal feeling of the novel. If anything it's a little overwritten and slow in parts, but you can't argue with the effectiveness of the prose in conjuring up the sinister ambience and an increasing sense of tension.

I felt the ending let the story down a bit, although I won't say more than that to avoid spoiling it. Certainly the central section of the book is the strongest. There are a couple of events that could be considered plot holes but they can be excused in the context of the genre. It can't be described as an enjoyable read, at least not for me, although readers who like ghost stories and similar may like it more.

I would recommend this to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers, suspense novels, surrealism/magical realism, or ghost stories. Whilst I personally didn't love it, that has more to do with my personal taste. The skill of the author in writing this demonstrates her ability and so I would happily read another novel by her.
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