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An Unexpected Guest: A Novel Hardcover – April 17, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316196770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316196772
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Serious geopolitics mixes with parenthood and the finer points of entertaining.... Like her protagonist, Korkeakivi's writing is cool, calm and composed."—Alison McCulloch, The New York Times

"Beautifully written....emotional and riveting....this book is a winner!"—Pat Williams, The Courier (Houston)

"An Unexpected Guest is a quietly intelligent novel about a woman who, at long last, learns to be honest with herself."—Yvonne Zipp, Christian Science Monitor

"Korkeakivi creates a Paris as crisp and unruffled as her heroine-and just as likely to surprise."—Elizabeth Bard, author of Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes

"[In] this promising debut novel... Korkeakivi shares Woolf's flair for making everyday rituals (buying flowers, setting the table) seem profound."—Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly

"An Unexpected Guest is a lovingly detailed account of a day in the life of the wife of a British diplomat in Paris. But what a day! She deals with protocol, place settings and a temperamental cook and at the same time a troubled son, an Irish complication, and a suspected Turkish terrorist. Virginia Woolf meets Eric Ambler-and readers meet a charming heroine who rises to all occasions."—John Casey, National Book Award-winning author of Spartina and Compass Rose

"A taut tender suspenseful novel, delicately told."—Fernanda Eberstadt, author of Rat and The Furies

"[A] captivating first novel about appearances concealing truth."—Julie Trevelyan, Booklist

"Like Virginia Woolf did in Mrs. Dalloway, Korkeakivi brilliantly weaves the complexities of an age into an act as deceptively simple as hosting a dinner party."—Audra Otto, Minneapolis Post

"This beautifully modulated first novel follows one day in the life of a British diplomat's American wife as she organizes a dinner party crucial to her husband's career.... With this seemingly slight day-in-the-life tale, Korkeakivi produces a knowing comedy of manners, a politically charged thriller and a genuinely moving study of the human heart."—Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

"Anne Korkeakivi's writing has all the best qualities of an Ishiguro novel. Clare, a seemingly selfless diplomat's wife, the epitome of restraint and hermetic detachment, unravels before us into a woman of dangerous allegiances, passions, and moral dilemmas, in prose that is both beautiful and razor sharp. Paris is depicted with subtle complexity, a city that reposes as it threatens, full of scorn and grace. Korkeakivi's sense of detail is remarkable while grounded in authenticity. An Unexpected Guest is a feast of a novel."—George Hagen, author of The Laments

"Deep private tension animates the perfect ambassador's wife as she manages one of the most important days of her husband's career, the complexities of her surprising past converging rapidly upon the present where an entire emotional life is balancing on a delicate, invisible wire. A beautifully written novel about living with our many selves."—Nicola Keegan, author of Swimming

"In this first novel, Korkeakivi updates Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway with a new heroine.... The book is as wonderfully self-possessed as its leading lady, and winningly suspenseful as well."—Whole Living Magazine

"An Unexpected Guest is a compelling debut novel that elegantly unfolds its narrative of a 24-hour period in the life of a diplomat's wife, one of the year's most complex and unforgettable literary characters."—David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy

"Anne Korkeakivi writes wonderfully about embassy manners, food, and Paris, and she writes even better about the darker world that threatens to disrupt not just Clare's seating plan for dinner but her entire life. An Unexpected Guest, like its heroine, is a novel of great elegance, enormous surprises, and unexpected depths."—Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

"Anne Korkeakivi knows her expat life as well as the protocol of diplomacy-from the flowers and trees and markets of Paris to the meetings behind closed doors. Clare is an observant, intelligent woman whose elegant existence includes endless dinner arrangements, to-do lists, and the necessity of irreproachable behavior. Yet she has a secret that seems destined to burst and shatter her comfortable life and that of her family. An Unexpected Guest will draw you in and keep you breathlessly turning pages, even as you admire its intelligence and fine writing."—Thomas E. Kennedy, author of In the Company of Angels and Falling Sideways

"A thriller-like tale of a British diplomat's wife in Paris intent on pulling off the perfect dinner party while plagued by memories of past indiscretion."—Megan O'Grady, Vogue

"Cooly composed...."—Ihsan Taylor, The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Anne Korkeakivi was born and raised in New York City but currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland, with her husband, who works at the United Nations, and two daughters. Her short stories have been published by The Yale Review, The Atlantic, and The Bellevue Literary Review, among other magazines, and she is a Hawthornden Fellow. She has also lived in France and Finland, as well as in a few additional corners in the U.S.

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Customer Reviews

This book just didn't hold my attention.
S. Struhall
This book will draw you in with the intensely beautiful writing and the sympathetic main character and the gripping story will keep you riveted.
Susan K. Johnson
I thought there was too much detail and not enough story.
Eugenia Anderson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Louise Farmer Smith on March 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Usually I don't enjoy novels set inside the diplomatic corps where the characters are pulled out of shape by impenetrable protocols and fish-fork etiquette. But I found Anne Korkeakivi's AN UNEXPECTED GUEST to be absolutely delicious. Clare Morehouse, wife of an English diplomat serving in Paris, is attempting to give a dinner party essential to her husband's career on a night her son is AWOL from his private school, the cook is in a snit, and one of Clare's old lovers is lurking. And this isn't just any old lover, this is a terrorist on the run whose background with Clare is enough to drown her whole family in scandal. This lady does, however, know her fish forks and has nerves of steel. I could not stop reading.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Ronna Wineberg on April 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An Unexpected Guest is a beautiful and compelling novel. In gorgeous prose, Anne Korkeakivi tells the story of Clare Moorhouse and Clare's two lives - as a graceful, efficient diplomat's wife in Paris who is planning a dinner party and as a woman of passion who hides a secret past. Paris comes alive in the book as does every character. Korkeakivi skillfully weaves the city, Clare's marriage, her past and present until they all converge. The novel is filled with suspense, insights, and substance. It's a wonderful book.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Johnson on April 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had a bit of trepidation starting out, wondering if this would be too precious and mannered to be truly enjoyable, but my fears were laid to rest within a few pages. This book will draw you in with the intensely beautiful writing and the sympathetic main character and the gripping story will keep you riveted.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mina Samuels on April 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An Unexpected Guest is written with such delicate strength that you hardly notice the multiple depths of the seemingly light story unfolding in its pages, until the full power of its narrative is laid before the reader. What a wonderful book. Full of gorgeous writing and luscious images, wrapped around a haunting story of the past looping forward to the future.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Lover on April 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I received an advanced reading copy of this book through Goodreads and was excited at the thought of diving in. Ever since I visited Paris with a school group tour in my teens, I dreamed of living and working there, specifically at the American Embassy.

Life, however, had other plans for me. But thirty years later, I still wondered what a diplomat's life could have been like, especially in Paris. Anna Korkeakivi's delightful book helped me fill that void and drew me in, letting me re-experience the sights and sounds of Paris, and provided insight into the pressures of a fictional diplomat's spouse.

For someone like me who cut their teeth on the best that literature has to offer, An Unexpected Guest was an unexpected treat. The prose was educated and precise, as tempered as the emotions you'd expect from the very proper American spouse of an English diplomat. The secrets and intrigue in the storyline were an added bonus, and the ending was satisfying.

(As an aside, the freelance proofreader/copyeditor inside me hopes that the typos that I caught in my reading of the ARC will be corrected in the hardcover and Kindle versions.)

I loved the book and am packing it up to send to my Francophile of a daughter. I think she'll love it, too.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By KitchenMD on May 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked up this book due to the reviews by other customers. I was quite disappointed and felt a sense of relief when I finished the book. The first half had some interesting intrigue but by the halfway point, the story line plodded with many repetitions. The writing is ok but at times I found the switchbacks between present and past to be poorly executed. There are much better books out there. I wouldn't waste my time on this one.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Miller on May 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Great Book ! Several stories within the story that somehow all came together at the end, not a distraction, but an added enhancement to the theme of preparation for a very extravagant dinner party on short notice. The story brought out many issues; among the most significant, the moral and ethical decisions of how to deal with matters of conscience and justice. I particularly enjoyed the character development of the participants in the story. Each of them could have been a story in themselves, particularly the Scottish Cook. The best line of the book was the comment about making a good Haggis (a contradiction in terms ?). Noteworthy ! This would not have been a book that I would have normally selected to read, but my wife kept insisting that I read it. I was not disappointed ! I only hope that Turk was absolved of the crime that he was alleged to have committed, and that Jamie survived his student crisis. This book has something for everyone ! If you should read it, I don't think that you will be disappointed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Coleman on June 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An Unexpected Guest is irresistible. Paris may be lush with spring, but it lurks with danger and intrigue. As Clare, the Irish-American wife of a British diplomat, arranges an official dinner, she fights to keep her secret buried for fear of destroying her husband's career and their family. The action unfolds over 24 hours, and the exquisitely measured pace of Korkeakivi's writing makes the dramatic revelations all the more satisfying. It is a page turner! Put yourself in the hands of a master storyteller and enjoy.
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