I’m continuing the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland theme for my Short & Sweet Reviews…but it has a new look! Thanks to Staci of Blogging Bella Designs for creating the terrific button and rating system for “That’s Swell!”
Review: I would first like to thank HarperCollins for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
“What is a use of a book, without pictures or conversations?” THE UNINVITED GUESTS by Sadie Jones is smashing good fun! I’m a big fan of Downtown Abbey and of stories set during Edwardian England so I was very excited to read this novel.
The story is a comedy-of-manners. I often sat there thinking to myself: “you’ve got to be kidding!” THE UNINVITED GUESTS surrounds several different characters and changes POV’s between each of these characters. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked the various viewpoints, but I adapted to it, including Jones’ writing style — which is very cheeky and filled with asides said by the author.
The plot was funny and creative about a family living in a country home, Sterne, who’s afraid of losing their beloved residence due to financial strain. The mother, Charlotte Torrington, a recent widow, has remarried a kind and loving man who will do whatever it takes to help her out. At the start of the novel, he is leaving to go to Manchester to figure out how to save the house. Charlotte’s two older children, Emerald and Clovis, clearly don’t care for their step-father. Except for the fact that her mom married him rather quickly, I didn’t see any reason for them to loathe him as much as they do. Emerald is turning 20 and having a small, private birthday party at Sterne. She’s expecting her childhood friend and her mother. Of course, things don’t always go as planned.
Unexpected guests arrive in the form of victims from a train accident seeking shelter and respite. And a guest Emerald was expecting does not come at all, but is replaced by another guest. But this all good fun and makes for a hilarious novel. The Torringtons often forget they have weary passengers waiting in their house while they worry about what to do next, especially when it comes to getting read for the party and what they are going to eat for dinner. I kept thinking, “Why aren’t they helping those poor people?” But the Torringtons with their stiff upper lip continue their plans for the birthday party…not knowing how others among them have plans of their own.
“We’re all mad here.” My favorite character, by far, is Emerald. I pictured Michelle Dockery who plays Mary on Downtown Abbey portraying her. Emerald often says what she thinks and I liked that about her. I also liked Smudge, the youngest daughter. She’s mischievous and cute as a button. All the characters have fab names! There are a lot of secrets and innuendos in this novel. Plus, a bit of mystery — not anything involving a crime — but more of a guessing game and who is really who. It’s actually quite funny that we discover people’s true identities and intentions through a parlor game the characters play. Ms. Jones did a terrific job making the reader feel like they were in the time period — from the clothes to the formal language of the time. The cover is also quite lovely.
“Off with their heads!” At times, the story became a little draggy and I longed for the characters to get on with it! For instance, it takes quite a while to meet one particular mysterious guest who knows way too much about the family. There’s a lot that happens in the book and sometimes I felt there was too much going on or things that were unnecessary. However, I liked how each character has their own story to tell and their own set of problems, but I still became overwhelmed. All in all the book is a riot and so are the clever characters who love to match wits with each other
“Sentence first – verdict afterwards.” I’m giving THE UNINVITED GUESTS 3 “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Mushrooms and a Book” for being a funny read with charm.
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