The Uninvited Guests

It is 1912 on English country estate and the day of Emerald Torrington’s 20th birthday. She is anticipating a small party, not a nearby train accident and a houseful of misplaced passengers. Jones bitingly reveals post Victorian manners gone awry in this wickedly funny and surprising tale. The family is satisfyingly dysfunctional. Despite his efforts to save the family estate, Edward, the one-armed stepfather is resented by his adult stepchildren who are still mourning their idolized, late father. The brooding Clovis is frequently overwhelmed by his own sulkiness. Poor Smudge, the youngest child is utterly ignored. The mistress of the estate is the remote and narcissistic Charlotte who seems to have a mysterious relationship with the hardworking yet almost purposely sloppy housekeeper. Emerald seems to be the only adult family member who escapes self-absorption, although she somehow keeps forgetting about the uninvited guests and her promise to contact the Railway Company. She does manage to see that they get tea. As the uninvited guests are “held” in the morning room, preparations for the party continue. The self appointed alpha of the uninvited sets himself apart from the others as the only survivor from first class. He wins the admiration of Clovis and an invitation to attend the dinner party. The charismatic stranger isn’t who or what he appears, as he derails (the pun is too tempting) the party and coerces the party guests into playing a savagely cruel parlor game. Although the butler and stable master have not returned from their mission to gather survivors of the accident, the number of the uninvited seems to grow as they are dispatched to an additional room and begin to roam the house looking for food and rest. Smudge takes advantage of the distracting events to shuffle her pony into the house and up to her room. So ensues a night and a book readers won’t soon forget. With The Uninvited Guests, author Sadie Jones provides a delightful comedy of manners with a chilling twist.

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