Friday, March 16, 2012

The Uninvited Guests

by Sadie Jones, Harper, May 2012

...skip this one and do something useful with your time

The story is set in an isolated English country house in the early years of the twentieth century.  The house is owned by the Torrington-Swifts - mother Charlotte and three children, Clovis the nineteen year old son, Emerald the twenty year old daughter and Imogene a nine year old.  In true English fashion there are of course  some servants.  Friends from the city are invited for a weekend house party and the family and staff are deep into preparations for the party when word is sent that there has been a train wreck and survivors will shelter at Torrington-Swift house.  The weekend guests arrive and the stranded passengers soon behind them.   The only survivor from the first class section, Charlie Haversham immediately attaches himself to the house party while the other survivors are sequestered in one room of the house.  Things get very weird after this.
Let me count the ways I disliked this book.  Charlotte, Clovis and Emerald were the most unlikeable major characters I have come across in a long time.  They were arrogant, vain and obnoxious.  I do realize that the author might have been writing satire but whatever,  I did not find it enjoyable.  The subplot that involved Imogene and a pony was truly ridiculous and mostly beyond belief.  The prose was dreadfully unwieldy; the author never used one word when six were possible.  Lastly, toward the end of the book the story completely jumps the shark (and the genre) and becomes a zombie story! 
I get offered a large number of books to review and I usually don’t accept books unless I have an expectation of liking them; this one came with recommendations from Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs) and Ann Patchett (State of Wonder) some of my favorite authors.   Did those women read the same book I did?  Do they indiscriminately lend their names to these book jacket blurbs?  I do hate to trash a book in a review but skip this one and do something useful with your time.
I read an advanced copy of this book provided by the publisher


Zibilee said...

Wow, this one ends up being a zombie story? Now that is just plain weird. And the fact that the characters are so unlikable really would bother me too. I am going to heed your advice and just say no to this one. Thanks for the honest review!

The Literary Lioness said...

I don't like overly wordy authors, either. I remember struggling with Virginia Woolf and Henry James while studying English literature in high school and college.

Visiting and following you from Cym Lowell!