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The Uninvited Guests: A Novel Hardcover – May 1, 2012

3.1 out of 5 stars 271 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A comedy of manners that turns downright surreal…Jones’s effervescent writing keeps the course steady-even as her characters shed their civilized veneers.” (Ellen Shapiro, People Four Star Review)

“Entertaining…Jones is a writer of admirable narrative energy…with a painfully accurate, almost Stoppardian ear for dialogue and a delightful streak of cruelty that flirts with…the gothic.” (Lev Grossman, Time Magazine)

“Vividly atmospheric…niftily deceptive…a story of shattered snobbery, transformation of character and in the end a surprising and eerily beautiful portrait of compassion…A sublimely clever book.” (Mary Pols, San Francisco Chronicle)

“Delicious…comparisons with Downton Abbey will be both inevitable and fair.” (Wall Street Journal)

“…THE UNINVITED GUESTS…defied my expectations. I saw none of it coming. I read it in one breathless sitting, and finished wanting to give it to everyone I know.” (Maile Meloy, Nationally Bestselling Author of BOTH WAYS IS THE ONLY WAY I WANT IT)

“What a delicious read! Like something written by a wicked Jane Austen,…I was captivated by its madcap nature and then, unprepared for the strange fruit that the story became.” (Sarah Blake, New York Times Bestselling Author of THE POSTMISTRESS)

“A brilliant novel…At once a shimmering comedy of manners and disturbing commentary on class…so well-written, so intricately plotted, that every page delivers some new astonishment.” (Ann Patchett, New York Times Bestselling Author of STATE OF WONDER)

“What opens as an amusing Edwardian country house tale soon becomes a sinister tragi-comedy of errors…in true Shakespearean fashion. Sadie Jones is a most talented and imaginative storyteller.” (Jacqueline Winspear, New York Times Bestselling Author of ELEGY FOR EDDIE)

“A remarkable dark comedy...Jones’s characters are delightfully eccentric, the wit delightfully droll, and the prose simply delightful. But for all its charm, this is a serious book…” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“A delightful, eerie novel…Jones expertly balances the whimsical and the strange, building things to a climax of abandon, terror and restitution…Engrossing, enjoyable.” (Philip Womack, Telegraph)

“Excellent characterization…a plot sprinkled with hints of secrets to be revealed…a page-turning read that blurs the edges of the country house mystery.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Jones’ clever prose and bright tone heighten her characters and setting…she adroitly draws the layers of character that are exposed as shameful secrets come to light.” (Atlantic Monthly)

“Enthralling…An English countryside setting, an ever-twisting plot, and gorgeously precise writing add up to one delightful novel.” (Martha Stewart Whole Living Magazine)

“Exhilaratingly strange and darkly funny…veers off in a wildly surprising direction, and the way it plays out is delightful, sexy, moving-even profound…Will haunt you-but happily.” (USA Today)

“Delightful and unexpected…These well-imagined characters serve to raise stakes the reader cares about. They move beyond archetypes, becoming something unexpectedly rich and engaging.” (Robin Vivimos, Denver Post)

“’Downton Abbey’ takes a turn for the supernatural in Sadie Jones’s stylishly eccentric comedy of manners THE UNINVITED GUESTS...Anglophiles who admire a biting sense of humor and a tinge of the Gothic, pull up a chair.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“Ms. Jones’s comedy of manners, which takes place over a single evening in 1912, gleefully exposes the family members’ snobbery… The author can’t resist harassing the Torringtons with the menace in the next room…” (New York Times)

“…a delicious romp to read…Jones’ novel is as tightly constructed as one of those elaborate corsets that the Crawley women squeeze into to sashay around the drawing rooms at Downton.” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR)

“An enchanted new novel…[with] the sly, subversive dexterity of a Mozart opera or Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’” (Washington Post)

“The author’s command of period archness tips its hat to a pantheon of social satirists: Luis Buñuel in cahoots with Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen. Jones’s caustic takedown of 1-percenter exceptionalism arrives like a divine gift to occupying party poopers everywhere.” (New York Times Book Review)

From the Back Cover

One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens 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 a 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 most 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.

The Uninvited Guests is the bewitching new novel from the critically acclaimed Sadie Jones. The prizewinning author triumphs in this frightening yet delicious drama of dark surprises—where social codes are uprooted and desire daringly trumps propriety—and all is alight with Edwardian wit and opulence.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First American Edition edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062116509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062116505
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (271 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,023,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sadie Jones is touted as a superb storyteller on the book's cover, and "The Uninvited Guests" is a ripping yarn, an imaginative, hybrid cross between Downton Abbey (the setting is the early 20th century in a grand old English manor house) and the Twilight Zone. Facing financial difficulties, father Edward departs to try to save their home, Sterne, leaving Charlotte and her children Clovis, Emerald, and Imogen ("Smudge") home alone, but not for long. It's Emerald's birthday, and her party guests are soon joined by the uninvited guests - hungry, tired survivors of a nearby train crash who fill up the vacant downstairs rooms, and one malevolent interloper, Charles Traversham-Beechers.

Over the course of a dramatic evening, as they say, all hell breaks loose. It's difficult to say much about the wild events that occur without spoiling the fun, but readers are treated to a particularly nasty after-dinner game that turns partiers into prey; an absurdist romp by Smudge with a favored animal; a breakdown of class barriers between the family cook and a buttoned-down gentleman; scandalous skeletons being cruelly pulled from the closet; and a hectic, madcap Marx Brothers-like romp through house and literally through walls towards the surprising denouement. It's a story that has stuck with me for some time after closing the book, as Jones does a marvelous job in placing you smack into the middle of her rowdy romp. The pace accelerates throughout this suspenseful novel, so plan on setting things aside for time with the Torrington family.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Whether it was this author's intention or not, she succeeded in making me dislike three of the members of the family who are pivotal to this story. Charlotte Torrington Swift is the mother of Emerald and Clovis. The novel states they are nineteen and twenty respectively, but that tripped me up somewhat because on the day this story happens Emerald is having her twentieth birthday. So at this point they are both twenty? But don't worry about that little detail, there will be much more serious problems with this novel than to worry about how many months there were between the births of Charlotte's two eldest children. All three of these characters are self-indulgent, conceited, arrogant, lazy, and cruel in certain ways. How was I ever supposed to enjoy the book when the characters were so unlikeable?

The story takes place in the early 1900's on an isolated English country estate which has been the home of the Torrington children all their lives. Now, because of the late Horace Torrington's heavy debts, the estate will be lost unless Edward Swift, Charlotte's second husband, can acquire a loan from a man he despises. Edward lost one arm in a carriage accident when he was a young man and these two insensitive and cruel "children" actually make fun of him and use this as one reason they dislike him so much. (Even this early on in the novel I was rooting for Edward to not get the loan, chuck the bums out, and tell them to get their hands dirty and do something useful.) So, back to our synopsis. Guests begin to arrive for Emerald's birthday celebration dinner later in the evening but along with them come a group of people who were in a railway disaster which resulted in many deaths.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this because it was recommended based on a number of English country house books I've read in Downtown Abbey fever. This is a zombie story and that was totally unexpected. Perhaps if the back cover or Amazon had mentioned the supernatural twist, I would not have been so disappointed. But I was. I did not finding it charming, just weird and silly.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I thought this was an excellent book - well-written, imaginative and thoughtful. Set in a pre-First World War country house, preparations for a birthday party are disrupted by the arrival of a rather mysterious group of strangers who need shelter after being involved in a train accident nearby. The disorder they bring to the mannered Edwardian world has profound consequences for the house's occupants. Although it is very different from either, I found echoes in the book of Priestley's An Inspector Calls and the Nicole Kidman film The Others. Its unusual premise may not be to everyone's taste but I found the whole thing engrossing and it has stayed with me strongly after finishing the book.

Initially I wondered whether it was a little over-written and whether I really cared enough about these people to want to read a whole novel about them. However, it gradually drew me in and quite soon had me spellbound. The characters are well drawn and a subtle, growing sense of menace develops. There is a delicate, inexplicit parallel between the loss of physical order and of the manners and conventions on which the characters have depended, and I thought the fracturing and eventual shattering of this reserve and the effect of this on each of them was very well drawn. Sadie Jones also draws a believable and touching portrait of how propriety, self-absorption and a rigid, misguided sense of duty can smother character and humanity, and how shared adversity can allow genuine human contact to restore them. She also reminds us of the overwhelming importance of simple kindness between people.

The writing style fits the story very well. To try to give you a flavour, after the guests have been fed she says, "Although they were, for the moment, satisfied, their mood had not greatly improved.
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