Author: Sadie Jones
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Date Published: January 8, 2013
Pages: 259 pages
How I Heard About It: A review copy of this newly-released paperback was provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher as part of Sadie Jones' official blog tour.
Two Sentence Summary: All the things we love about Jane Austen, about Victorian trysts, about eerie ramshackle mansions with none of the struggle to decipher syntax. Totally entertaining and engaging looks into the lives of the formerly-elite.
Things I Think: It is so good to take a step back from CAPITAL L LITERATURE to read some for-fun historical fiction. My reading diet is not often bolstered by books like "The Uninvited Guests," but I am so glad this book crept into my TBR pile.
The story opens with a newly step-fathered family struggling to save their rambling estate; while this plot element is by no means unique to historical fiction, the vibrantly portrayed family makes this an addictive read from the beginning. Raven-haired siblings Emerald and Clovis, on the cusp of their twenties, are flawed (they hate their stepfather, their loss of affluence, the malaise of their days) but intriguingly mercurial and loveable in their humanity. Charlotte, the mother of this interesting pair, is a bit of a wilting flower as she opines for the increasingly lost cause of saving the estate. And an eerie youngest sibling nicknamed Smudge provides a ghostly presence that fixates on the crumbling remains of the "old house" that adjoins their living quarters.
Jones writes with a diction and syntax that is mimetic of the early 20th century, but it is never inaccessible, or difficult to relate to, in the way some readers find Austen to be. She has imbued her characters and their circumstance with as much light-hearted humor as despair, keeping "The Uninvited Guests" from feeling overwhelmingly like a classic Russian novel.
I will definitely pass this one around amongst my friends and will be recommending this to my fellow humans in book clubs.