The Uninvited Guests

Sadie Jones

The Uninvited Guests

One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honour of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savoury survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor - and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief. One of their number (who is most definitely not a gentleman) makes it his business to join the birthday revels. 3.7 out of 5 based on 16 reviews
The Uninvited Guests

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 272
RRP
Date of Publication March 2012
ISBN 978-0701186715
Publisher Chatto & Windus
 

One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honour of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savoury survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor - and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief. One of their number (who is most definitely not a gentleman) makes it his business to join the birthday revels.

Small Wars by Sadie Jones

Reviews

The Financial Times

Sue Gaisford

It is all a far cry from the stifling propriety of the 1950s, so superbly evoked in Sadie Jones’s first two novels, The Outcast (which won a Costa Book Award) and Small Wars, but, like them, it’s dazzlingly well-written. The style is exuberant and extremely funny ... a midsummer night’s dream of a book, mythic and unforgettable.

14/04/2012

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Times Literary Supplement

Lucy Simon

Despite the number and the potentially confusing nature of Sadie Jones’s narrative threads, they are woven together with a deft hand so that tension builds cohesively and addictively. We never really doubt the reason for the guests’ strange behaviour and appearance, but there is delectable suspense about the outcome of the evening’s odd juxtapositions.

22/06/2012

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Times Literary Supplement

Lucy Carlyle

Despite the number and the potentially confusing nature of Sadie Jones’s narrative threads, they are woven together with a deft hand so that tension builds cohesively and addictively. We never really doubt the reason for the guests’ strange behaviour and appearance, but there is delectable suspense about the outcome of the evening’s odd juxtapositions.

22/06/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Philip Womack

Jones’s writing is a clever pastiche of early 20th-century novels. Clovis isn’t “somebody who went after people, rather people tended to go after him”. Charlotte “had built her life so that she might avoid third-class train carriages and she wasn’t going to wring her hands over those who made use of them now”. Readers will probably guess the nature of the uninvited guests early on, but that isn’t really a problem, as the book is aware of itself and invites you instead to enjoy the delicious mixture of catty and uncanny.

04/04/2012

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The Washington Post

Donna Rifkind

As Sterne undergoes these transformations, the narrative keeps shifting as well, morphing from a country-house comedy to a locked-house mystery, a fairy tale, a ghost story with horror-movie elements, and an unexpectedly moving parable about hospitality. Intentionally stylized, it’s forever calling attention to its theatricality, referring to Sterne variously as a stage set, ballet or series of paintings. It also calls to mind a thousand other books, and that, too, is intentional.

22/06/2012

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The Observer

Stephanie Merritt

The ghost story genre is necessarily formulaic, which is perhaps why it continues to fascinate writers; the challenge is to create something new from within its confines. Jones concentrates on the way the unexpected intrusion affects the family and their friends, bringing out their best and worst qualities, revealing long-buried secrets and unexpected depths of passion and rage.

25/03/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Sheena Joughin

Sadie Jones’s third novel casts a forceful spell, as the “lost souls” of the train crash arrive to drift, dazed, through its pages. Part ghost story, part fable, part social satire, it mines an unsettling seam. The prose is visceral, rich with “the smell of many wounds”, and thick with painterly detail ...

19/03/2012

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The Independent

Brandon Robshaw

This is a mixture of a comedy of manners and a ghost story, with hints of Saki, Nancy Mitford, and Iris Murdoch. A pleasantly eerie read, with a sweet ending.

03/03/2013

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The Times

Kate Saunders

The literary ghost story is in vogue at the moment and this one is beautifully done.

24/03/2012

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The Independent

Emma Hagestadt

What starts off as a pastiche of a country-house melodrama turns into something much more macabre ... But for the fact that Jones can't write a bad sentence, the novel's outlandish denouement might have fallen flat. Instead it's hard to forget the anarchic mayhem created by the febrile travellers.

30/03/2012

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The New York Times

Jan Stuart

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.

10/08/2012

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The Guardian

Helen Dunmore

In The Uninvited Guests, Sadie Jones calls her young male lead character Clovis, and thereby summons up Saki's tart, macabre voice and his stories of Edwardian country-house life with its shibboleths, comeuppances and cruelties … Where Saki would be ruthless, Jones relents. There is sunlight and the smell of bacon. There is resolution, even restoration ... The story scuds along, veering close to pastiche, although the luscious prose is precisely steered.

14/03/2012

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The Daily Express

Charlotte Heathcote

The first half of Jones’s venture into the Edwardian period echoes the atmosphere of Dodie Smith’s I Capture The Castle or Rosamund Lehmann’s in a summer season, all coming-of-age nostalgia and escapist grandeur … Jones builds a three-dimensional world around Sterne and some of its inhabitants, touching on issues of class and the role of women but other characters feel like ciphers. The Uninvited Guests descends into dark whimsy, not quite succeeding as escapist nostalgia or as social commentary.

25/03/2012

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Scotland on Sunday

Emma Cowing

Jones has a deft touch, and she sketches her characters beautifully, with tongue often resting gently in cheek. The first half of the novel is a delight, a Mitford-esque romp through eccentric relatives and frustrated passions, but the supernatural element feels forced and confused.

18/03/2012

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The Sunday Times

Francesca Angelini

Jones is sharp when it comes to social satire, but her extraordinary Downton-does-supernatural denouement is likely to leave most readers unpleasantly baffled.

22/06/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Rachel Hore

It would be a mistake to see this novel as mere pastiche. It's playing with form and satirising it. Connoisseurs may derive pleasure from identifying the tropes of the country house genre that it addresses and subverts ... Stylish, witty and inventive it may be, but The Uninvited Guests is perhaps too much about the writer at play to satisfy Sadie Jones's hungry fans.

01/04/2012

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