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Uninvited guests

May 27, 2012

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

reviewed by Keith

Sadie Jones is a much-lauded writer of fiction. Now that I’ve read one of her works,  I’ll be looking keenly for the previous two novels – I enjoyed The Uninvited Guests thoroughly, in fact it kept me up very late one night. It’s an engrossing page–turner, highly recommended.

During one evening and night in 1912, at ‘Sterne’, a rambling old English country manor, a well-bred young woman’s birthday party is interrupted by news of a “dreadful accident” on a nearby railway branch line, and the arrival of a group of survivors, who appear out of the mist in a rather spooky manner…and a very dark and intriguing situation ensues.

Along with the ever-expanding numbers of survivors comes a very nasty chap, Charlie Traversham–Beechers, who has intimate knowledge of the risqué past of the lady of the house. And to enliven matters the youngest member of the cast, a little girl called Smudge, decides to embark on a Great Undertaking with her pony Lady…which goes badly awry.

Thrown into the drama is a little romance, a fair degree of creepiness, a dash of scandal and a wry look at Edwardian class division and morals, all wrapped up in a subtle comedy of manners. Sadie Jones handles the language splendidly, she portrays her strong characters and vivid plot beautifully – Jones writes like a combination of Evelyn Waugh and Agatha Christie on a Horlicks binge.

For example, – here’s young Smudge, my favourite character by a nose, about to dress for her big sister’s birthday party: “I’m going to look iridescent lovely,” said Smudge “…you’ll swoon.”

Jones’ characters aren’t exactly likeable, (apart from Smudge!) but the author’s skill provokes empathy with them, they’re very well-rounded and all too human. This novel creates its own twisted branch line to the Upstairs–Downstairs genre…with droll humour, with great panache and a surreal, supernatural touch.


From → New Books, Review

One Comment
  1. Really nice review. Glad to see another positive review on this. On ratings are all over the place. I also thought this was a great read, highly enjoyable.


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