Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones


Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchen at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honor of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday.  But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savory survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor - and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief.

The cook toils over mock turtle soup and chocolate cake covered with green sugar roses, which the hungry band of visitors is not invited to taste.  But nothing, it seems, will go according to plan.  As the passengers wearily search for rest, the house undergoes a strange transformation.  One of their number (who is definitely not a gentleman) makes it his business to join the birthday revels.

Evening turns to stormy night, and a most unpleasant parlor game threatens to blow respectability to smithereens:  Smudge Torrington, the wayward youngest daughter of the house, decides that this is the perfect moment for her Great Undertaking.

You know that moment when you go home for the first time after you left.  You may have been away at college for the semester and this is the first opportunity you've had to get back home.  You just know that your mom is going to make your favorite dinner your first night back.  She even told you she was going to do it.  Then you sit down and instead of having her lasagna, it's potato dumplings.  You love them both, but you had been looking forward to the lasagna the entire trip home.  You really can't say your disappointed, but you had to readjust your thinking in about 10 seconds.  That feeling, is the exact same way I felt about this book.

For some reason, after reading the synopsis for the first time, I was expecting something more akin to a mystery novel.  What I got instead is something I can't for the life of me really explain in a way that makes sense to me, let alone anyone else.  I can't say it's a mystery, though there may be slight elements involved.  I think it's more of a cross between a comedy of errors, societal satire, family drama, and urban fantasy (if urban fantasy was regularly set in 1912 England.)  It's this strange, metaphysical dream like book that I absolutely adored.

I really don't think there is one aspect of The Uninvited Guests that I didn't love.  From the characters to the setting, I fell in love within the first 6 pages.  Then Sadie Jones' brilliance as a writer kept that streak of love going until the last page was turned.  She was able to bring to life the complicated, messy night this family is going to have to face.  By the end of the night, they will be different.  They will have faced a past full of secrets and deceptions.  They will have survived a complete transformation of what is socially acceptable.  They will have weathered a vengeful visitor, ravenous hordes, horse manure, and by the end will rediscover what makes them a family.

I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book.  Please visit the tour page to read other opinions.

12 comments:

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Glad u loved this. I thought it was pretty good as well.

Joanne said...

Great review! I have this one on kindle, so now I'm really looking forward to it.

bermudaonion said...

Oh my gosh, you've made this sound superb! I can't wait to read it now.

Debbie Haupt said...

Thanks Ryan, the way you described this sounds great
oh too little time :)

Kathleen Sara Shattuck said...

Ryan, great review! Sounds just like my kind of quirky story!

Yvette said...

Okay, I'm so easy. You got me. I'm adding the title to my summer TBR list. Great review, Ryan. As usual.

Staci said...

Loved your descriptive review! I willhaveto give this a try!

carol said...

I can't figure out if I want ot read this one or not. One review makes think it's quirdy and the enxt makes me think it's not worth my time. Still debating.

Audra said...

GREAT review -- I struggled too with how to review this book -- the surprise about the story's feel, if that makes sense -- was something I wanted to preserve, because I liked that this was a little Upstairs-Downstairs meets The Others -- and this was so unlike Jones' previous novel, it was mind-blowing.

Teddyree said...

I just saw another review of this one on another favourite blog, 2 adoring reviews puts this one on my read list. Thanks Ryan :)

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

You describe that feeling of coming home and having to readjust your expectations quite well - I can totally understand how you felt when reading this book! I'm glad that it was a good kind of surprise though. :)

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Amanda said...

I totally enjoyed this one too! While I wasn't prepared for what the book was really about, I was definitely pleasantly surprised and loved the whole thing.