Review: The Uninvited Guests

The Uninvited Guests

The Uninvited Guests
By Sadie Jones
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062116505, May 2012, 262pp.)

The Short of It:

Interesting premise, but poorly executed.

The Rest of It:

An 18-century manor is on the verge of collapse. It’s a house that has lost its shine long ago, but it’s still considered “home” to widow Charlotte, her children and her new husband, Edward. As Edward goes into town to see about a loan to help carry them through, Charlotte plans to host a birthday party for her daughter, Emerald. What promises to be a grand evening, is instead a disaster when a nearby rail accident sends a group of straggly survivors to their home. Trying to host a lavish dinner party while tending to these uninvited guests proves to be too much but makes for some entertaining reading.

I had a strange reaction to this book. I had an expectation for it, based on what so many other readers have said about it and when it didn’t deliver I found myself angry and confused over what I missed. I immediately emailed other bloggers to see if I was off the mark because so many loved this one. It’s gotten four and five stars all over Goodreads and many of the bloggers I respect, have said wonderful things about it. So why didn’t I enjoy it?

The beginning dragged horribly, the middle was better but the end made me feel lukewarm about the whole thing. It was very predictable and I saw the twist right at the beginning so there was little to look forward to, except HOW the twist was going to be executed and that failed to impress me. The characters were well-developed but not likable. I didn’t care to know any of them. I will say that one character, young Smudge… was probably the most interesting of the lot and in my opinion, the entire story could have been written around her and I would have been happy. In fact, there is mention of the “old house” which is attached to the new house and I felt for sure that Smudge would somehow end up exploring that old, creaky house. Maybe because I so wanted it to go that route I set myself up for disappointment.

In the end, it just didn’t work for me.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

29 thoughts on “Review: The Uninvited Guests”

  1. See, that’s the beauty of democracy. We have the freedom to disagree with the majority, if that’s how we feel. Sometimes, books just don’t live up to our expectations. It doesn’t help, however, when it has been built up as a 5-star read. But, I guess, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I went down this road with Everything is Illuminated. All my friends loved it! My best friend, who I trust to recommend great books, adored this book. I absolutely hated it. Yes, hate! I know that sounds supremely harsh, but every minute of that book was like nails on a chalkboard… for me. I had fleeting moments of enjoyment, and I tried to hold onto those moments for as long as possible, then danced a jig with relief when I finished it.

    What can I say? We’ll like some, and not others… but that’s okay.

    Happy reading,

  2. Yeah I was sort of forewarned about this one before. Expectations can play an interesting role in how we like movies & books. If they’re too high, things can turn out a bummer!

  3. Boo, too bad! You’re not the only person who just didn’t like this book so don’t feel bad. I’m often in the minority when it comes to totally hot books — it’s so baffling sometimes! Smudge was *so* adorable — I just wanted to squish her.

    1. Smudge was so interesting, too!! Her drawings… I really wanted them to lead somewhere. There were lots of false starts for me with this book. I thought she would head into that older part of the house… I thought her drawings would come to life… apparently I thought all the wrong things!

      1. I hadn’t thought of that but it’s true — given her obsession with drawing I’m surprised it didn’t feature in more — and now that I think abt it, how everything ended with the pony felt v odd to me. I still liked it — I was sort of jaw-dropped waiting to see what other over-the-top event would happen — but there were some themes that did sort of disappear.

  4. I’m really glad I didn’t know going into this that it had a supernatural element. A lot of people did, and my expectations would have been much different. But because I didn’t know, even though I could see what was happening, it was unexpected.

    This isn’t a book I loved, and honestly, as my review talked about, the main reason I found it interesting was the symbolism I began to sense about halfway through. Without that, though, I think it would have fallen flat for me too. It’s an odd little book, that’s for sure.

    1. Maybe some editing would have helped. There were several story lines that I would have liked to see more of…the drawings that Smudge did, those could have lead to something… the old part of that house. But they petered out and were never fully realized. All the blurbs mentioned the supernatural element so I’m amazed that you managed to read it without knowing about it, but so glad you enjoyed it more than I did.

    1. I’ve come across a few others who weren’t in love with it either, but all in all, I’ve had some great discussions about it. That’s what counts in the end. At least to me. I don’t have to love a book to have a discussion about it.

  5. It’s just that different books appeal to different people…that’s what I think…that’s what’s fun about sharing the books we love!

  6. This book does seem to be all the rage, but I just haven’t been interested in reading it. Your review convinces me that decision is okay!

  7. I do think that sometime the hype works against the book…not every book can be a 5 star read. When they’re first published, there’s so much press and propaganda that we’re probably influenced a lot more than we think. I’m reading Laurel K. Hamilton’s newest Anita Black novel right now…I’ve waited on it a year and read her blog postings as she was writing it. I’ve let myself get way too excited and read too much into her blog postings…and guess what? So far I hate it…I’m only half way through so I can still hope… :p
    I think we all have our own opinions and we all have our own moods. I might read something under pressure of a deadline and just like it ok, but if I had picked it up on a whim when I was simply ready to read it, I might have loved it. Does that make any sense??

    1. It’s true, too much hype can kill a book for me but I knew nothing about this one when I accepted it. All I remember is that several bloggers, all in a row, gave it 4-5 stars. I didn’t even read the synopsis. I just went with what they said. That is why I am so surprised by it.

  8. Still working on my review (ha!), but although I loved the author’s use of language and the setting, I was slightly disappointed after finishing… this one may have suffered from my high expectations.

  9. I have often set myself up for disappointment because of how others have raved about certain books. But, we are all different and sometimes our life experiences and tastes don’t gel with others reactions to the same story! I was thinking about reading it at some point but now it has dropped very low on my list of books.

  10. I’m eager to read this one, as I adored Jones’ last book, but I’ve read some incredibly mixed reviews. I’m quite curious to see how my reaction to this one will compare!

  11. Sorry to see that this one didn’t work for you. I have it on hold at the library so maybe I’ll skip it for now. I’m having enough trouble concentrating on my reading without getting one that I may not be able to get into.

  12. Hmm. I’m sorry to see that this book didn’t do it for you. I’ve had the sample on my kindle, ready to try it out and buy it. I had (have?) high hopes for it. Now I’m thinking it might still be good to read, but with tempered expectations. Thanks for your honest review.

  13. I’ve read mixed reviews on this one. Some have definitely loved it, but you’re not alone in being disappointed.

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