Monday, April 23, 2012

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

The Uninvited Guests
Author Sadie Jones
Release Date:  May 1, 2012
A grand old manor house deep in the English countryside will open its doors to reveal the story of an unexpectedly dramatic day in the life of one eccentric, rather dysfunctional, and entirely unforgettable family. Set in the early years of the twentieth century, award-winning author Sadie Jones’s The Uninvited Guests is, in the words of Jacqueline Winspear, the New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs mysteries A Lesson in Secrets and Elegy for Eddie, “a sinister tragi-comedy of errors, in which the dark underbelly of human nature is revealed in true Shakespearean fashion.”
Review:  It is no surprise that this book has already received mixed reviews and I believe, like with most novels, it depends on the perspective of the reader - including what we refer to as 'expectations' by readers of the text. It's all in the approach. Nothing could be truer than when applied to this particular book. The structure alludes to the easy adaptation to a screenplay or dinner theater. It does deliver everything that is promised, but perhaps not in the exciting fashion the reader might hope for. The author's approach is likely influenced by the classical set-ups from previous authors that have mastered the traditional early century eccentric life in the country side. Purposefully, the sluggish beginning demonstrates the domestic boredom of the middle to upper class.  Similar to Virginia Woolfe's, Mrs. Dalloway, The Uninvited Guests, ticks away at the hours where nothing much and everything all at once happens.  Also, the house is a breathing character as well as setting, much like The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. For these reasons, classical stylists will appreciate the structure and care given to the book. Parts do fall on the ridiculous and could be viewed as tragi-comedy, but in my opinion fail, and lean more towards mean-spirited in order to create tension or excitement.  However, the shenanigans fizzle, which leads me to the other result of this book.  The creeping pace lends to the anti-climatic feeling even when coupled with a great mystery and where a Gothic macabre setting exists.  The Uninvited Guests has 'Goethe' potential, but does not pull off the chilling haunt that is likely anticipated, and for that reason loses the interest and subsequently the rating stars from reviewers. 
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  1. Love the thorough review. I love it when I am given such detail that I feel like I can make a decision on whether I want to read it. Yet, you don't have any spoilers. Awesome!

  2. I love your take on the mixed reviews- really makes one think about perspective & expectations when picking up a book.