Friday, February 8, 2013

TLC Book Review - The Uninvited Guests

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
HarperPerennial 2012

Format?  paperback

Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of The Uninvited Guests from the publisher in exchange for a review; however, my review below and the opinions therein are entirely my own and offered without bias.

Why?  Like so many others right now, I'm interested in the lives of those who inhabited the manor houses of old England...especially during the time period where American influences began sneaking through, fortunes were lost and the World Wars began...equalizing those who thought they couldn't be equaled.

I was reminded of?  "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Downton Abbey," A Christmas Carol and The Importance of Being Earnest.

What Now? I'm keeping this one...right next to Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables.

Golden Lines

It was true; Smudge was very often forgotten.  Like Clovis and Emerald before her, she was left to herself to get on with the business of her upbringing, but unlike them, she was alone in the endeavor.  Clovis and Emerald had had one another as company when marooned by the various tides of their parents' commitments.  Smudge's loneliness suited her; she was celebrated by her mother, as well as neglected, and she found much to be cheerful about. (12)

Charlotte had many good qualities, but was ruthlessly self-serving, and she would have been the first to admit it. (23)

Clovis, out of breath and very white in the face, with his arms flung wide, announced, "There's been a dreadful accident!" (47)

"We've been sent here first," she said.  "We are ever so grateful you'll have us...Will you?" (55)

"Any word from the Railway?" she said, and another put in, "They didn't say how long it would be." And another whispered urgently, "We really must get on," to which a few yeses and ayes were added. (60)

"I am so sorry to inconvenience you, but I believe you were warned?" (82)

"Now, in a moment I ought to go down, so you're to wait here, Lady, and be a very good girl until I return."
Lady had the look of a pony that might or might not do as it was told. (109)

Charlotte's expression, adoring - either those she gazed upon or herself - altered of a sudden to something like horror.  She could not disguise it.  Her fingers, which has been resting lightly on the doorknob, a crystal one, gripped it whitely, and she fixed her eyes on the gentleman traveller.
"You," she said.
"Yes." Their visitor's tone was easy, but his catlike stillness was menacing. (111)

"Darling boy," she said, "could you ever hate your old mother?"
Clovis patted her. "Silly question, Ma; what's up?"
"Answer. I need it.  Whatever happened?  Would you and Emerald hate me?" 
Clovis dropped his guard and lowered his head in adoration, his clean cheek lightly touching her hair.
"No, Mother, never.  We'd never hate you; you're our very dearest and you should know it." (155)

"Come on!" barked Traversham-Beechers.  "I can't baby you through it!"  It is an adult game - not child's play - if you can't think of how, then I shall pass the glass." (163)

"You shamed us all," she said.
"You shamed yourselves," was his smiling answer. (179)

"We must lay them to rest," said Emerald with warm compulsion, gazing into the fire, "and we must make them comfortable." (214)

"Dignified," said Charlotte. "Dignified." And then she bowed her head and cried.
"There, Dearest, there..." said Edward. (257)


As they wait to hear if their home, Sterne, can be saved, Emerald Torrington's family prepares for her twentieth birthday celebration.  As a result of a train accident, however, the family is forced to harbor an entire group of passengers who have nowhere else to go until the Railroad company makes arrangements for them. Over the course of one stormy night, secrets are revealed and lives are changed directly and indirectly by the leader of the group who is out for revenge.

What I Liked

Smudge - she marched to the beat of her own drummer.  At first I wasn't sure how I felt about her nickname...but then I found out her real name, Imogene.  Yep, Smudge was much better.

Clovis - also an independent soul, living and rebelling against a society in which he felt suffocated.

Charlotte - don't judge me for this - while certainly not the best parent in the world, I believed that she too was just trying to get through each day.  She harbored secrets, but was willing to do whatever it took to keep her family safe, no matter how unconventional her actions.

The themes - it is possible to hold onto tradition while breaking free of some of the more choking, psychologically damaging yokes of society's expectations.  Jones handles these very issues without preaching, without ranting, without slapping the reader over the head.  There is one particular relationship (can't tell you who), which made me want to jump up and cheer.  The reader and the characters know the relationship is not meant to last, but both parties are ok with that because of the freeing benefits each receives from the other.  

What I Didn't Like

The pace - a little slow in the beginning - I actually began to worry a little by pg. 100 when I was finding myself skimming and/or having to return to passages to see what I missed.  After I finished the The Uninvited Guests and looked back over it, I was only then able to see how the beginning leads up to the end.

Overall Recommendation

I think lovers of classic gothic literature will appreciate The Uninvited Guests the most.

The Author

Sadie Jones

HarperCollins website for The Uninvited Guests 

Other Stops on the Tour

Monday, January 21st: Conceptual Reception
Tuesday, January 22nd: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, January 23rd: Olduvai Reads
Monday, January 28th: nomadreader
Tuesday, January 29th: Bibliosue
Wednesday, January 30th: Excellent Library
Thursday, January 31st: 5 Minutes for Books
Monday, February 4th: Speaking of Books
Tuesday, February 5th: Giraffe Days
Thursday, February 7th: Oh! Paper Pages
Friday, February 8th: Peppermint PhD
Monday, February 11th: All Grown Up?
Friday, February 15th: Silver’s Reviews


  1. I LOVED this book. It was so different. So far out of my usual. I read it last go round and was just tickled with it. I kept it to read again and I don't keep many.

    1. I can see me enjoying it again as well...maybe even more.

  2. Isn't her writing wonderful? I didn' this book when I read it but the memory of hoe much I adored Sadie Jones's turn of phrase and the story have not faded. And I did hang onto my copy. I really must read more by Jones.

    1. HOW much. Pardon my hinky iPad typing.

    2. I'm anxious to try out another of her works as well :)

  3. The setting does sound promising - a trainload of strangers in your home unexpectedly. What things can happen! Glad the pace picked up!

    1. a trainload of strangers who aren't exactly who they seem to be...makes it even spookier :p

  4. Great review. This one sounds fantastic. I want to read it.
    2 Kids and Tired Books

    1. If you like gothic lit, you're sure to enjoy it, Holly :)

  5. Great review -- I'm back to daily reading (yay!) and always appreciate stumbling upon a good book or two.

    Have a lovely evening.

    1. Thanks, Nancy! You too! Glad you've got your reading mojo back :)

  6. I liked this book. I thought it was funny.

    Nice review.

  7. "I was reminded of? "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Downton Abbey," A Christmas Carol and The Importance of Being Earnest." Now THAT is one heck of a combination! I can't wait to read this one!

    Thanks for being on the tour.