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The Uninvited Guests: A Novel

The Uninvited Guests: A Novel

Написано Sadie Jones

Озвучено Kate Reading


The Uninvited Guests: A Novel

Написано Sadie Jones

Озвучено Kate Reading

оценки:
3.5/5 (38 оценки)
Длина:
8 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Oct 2, 2012
ISBN:
9780062247841
Формат:
Аудиокнига

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Описание

One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honor of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savory survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor-and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief.

The cook toils over mock turtle soup and a chocolate cake covered with green sugar roses, which the hungry band of visitors is not invited to taste. But nothing, it seems, will go according to plan. As the passengers wearily search for rest, the house undergoes a strange transformation. One of their number (who is most definitely not a gentleman) makes it his business to join the birthday revels.

Evening turns to stormy night, and a most unpleasant parlor game threatens to blow respectability to smithereens: Smudge Torrington, the wayward youngest daughter of the house, decides that this is the perfect moment for her Great Undertaking.

The Uninvited Guests is the bewitching new novel from the critically acclaimed Sadie Jones. The prizewinning author triumphs in this frightening yet delicious drama of dark surprises-where social codes are uprooted and desire daringly trumps propriety-and all is alight with Edwardian wit and opulence.

Издатель:
Издано:
Oct 2, 2012
ISBN:
9780062247841
Формат:
Аудиокнига

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Об авторе

Sadie Jones is the author of five novels, including The Outcast, winner of the Costa First Novel Award in Great Britain and a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize/Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; the enchanting, hard-hitting novel set on the island of Cyprus during the British occupation, Small Wars; her most successful, bestselling novel The Uninvited Guests, beloved of Ann Patchett and Jackie Winspear, among other; the romantic novel set in London's glamorous theatre world, Fallout; and most recently, the highly acclaimed, bestselling novel, The Snakes. Sadie Jones lives in London.  


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  • (4/5)
    Review from Badelynge.In a large though crumbling country house the Torringtons prepare for the twentieth birthday of their eldest daughter Emerald, while their youngest daughter, mostly known as Smudge, prepares her own Great Undertaking. But during the preparations a train derails and the family are entreated to look after the survivors. I'm tiptoeing around spoilers here, even though the marketing for this book left great muddy footprints all over the cover. I can't really complain too loudly though as I probably wouldn't have even read the book if they hadn't been so indiscreet. The likes of Oscar Wilde and E.M.Forster are the the sorts of literary heritage this aspires to live up too. It's not quite consistent enough to pull it off completely and it suffers from having to hit its targets so far removed from the period of history it satires. It achieves on other levels though. It's engagingly written with many little impressionistic flourishes, entertaining throughout and did manage to put this reader on edge at times. It gave me pause to wonder that faced with a kitten neglected in a box (a present for Emerald) at the same time that the wretched train wreck survivors are similarly neglected, starving and cold in their own little box (the morning room), that the only forceful thought in my mind was: "Let the damn kitten out of the box!!!".
  • (2/5)
    An improbable plot with unlikeable characters made the book a struggle to read and then ghosts were added to the mix.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book! It was a bit of a twisted tale done in an interesting fashion, similar to an Alfred Hitchcock story. The writing style was superb and the characters were all fascinating. The Uninvited Guests is primarily a historical mystery and Sadie Jones made the characters quite real with her accurate use of language for the time period.
  • (2/5)
    &#9733 &#9733 1/2

    Whoa! You want a weird, ugly, & dark ghost story w/ a happy romantic ending? Well, then, This Is The Book For You!

    Let's see: it is Emerald's birthday, she is having a dinner party for old friends, family (mother, brother & baby sister), & neighbors. Step-father is off to town trying to secure a loan, so that they might stay in their family home, rather than move to a smaller one which he can afford on his own.

    So after he leaves, there is a train wreck and the people from the train (The Uninvited Guests) arrive unannounced to find shelter until all is cleared up. Unfortunately another more evil man from Mother's past shows up and plays ugly games and causes havoc....

    The part I liked (which gave this the 1/2 &#9733) was the baby sister: she brings the pets up to her room and holds them against her wall, and draws the outlines of their bodies on her wall w/ charcoal...... But in the midst of the ensuing chaos, she brings her Pony up to her room in order to do the same!

    Otherwise this was too creepy for me and a part of it offended my sensibilities.
  • (4/5)
    This, Jones' third novel, has a period setting centred around a remote English country house where the owners and some guests have gathered to celebrate a member of the family's birthday. Tension underpins the celebrations as the family are on the brink of losing the family home, and the day descends into further disarray and dark confusion when a large group of strangers arrive at the house following a railway crash on a nearby branch line.This was a bit of a frustrating Sadie Jones' book. The first three-quarters were true to her usual form - there was a sense of foreboding and mystery which kept me hooked, and whilst her writing may not be high literature it is eminently readable. Easy comfort reading I would call it. However, the last quarter of the book, when all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, verged on the ridiculous. I was sure she was leading the mystery to a satisfyingly ominous conclusion, but the turn it took was so far-fetched it was like sticking a pin in the balloon of tension. All the build up was spoilt by the silliness of the climax, and to ruin it further she squeezed in some improbable romances at the 11th hour which just felt like very amateur story telling. This is not Mills & Boon - it wasn't necessary.Harsh as this review sounds, however, I did enjoy most of the book, and it was just the kind of easy read I needed to get me back into the reading groove.3.5 stars - a slip of form for Sadie Jones. There was a great start and middle but an expectedly poor ending.
  • (3/5)
    Two-and-a-half stars
  • (2/5)
    the novel started out well, got a bit weird, and then a pat and (cliched) happy ending. this book could definitely be lumped into 'downton abbey' reading lists - the people, setting and time are all very similar. there is mischief and just a bit of raunch. tastefully, britishfully done, of course. that my favourite characters from this story are a young girl, nicknamed Smudge, and a pony named Lady, well...that might possibly sum it all up.
  • (4/5)
    What else could happen on Emerald's birthday....her step-father leaves for one day to try to save their home, a friend isn't coming for her birthday, a suitor who isn't anyone she likes gives her a gift, a train accident that causes twenty or more "uninvited guests" to stay at their home, grumpy servants, and then Smudge's decision to carry out a ridiculous undertaking.The Torrington family definitely had a situation on their hands mostly caused by the folks who have been in the morning room all day from the accident site and had only been given tea. Would they be staying there for more than that evening or would the railway station drop by and take them to their original destinations? No communication from the railway station was bad enough, but if the Torringtons thought the uninvited guests were a bad situation, wait until they find out what Smudge has done...their uninvited guests may not be considered a bad situation.This book was filled with the propriety of an English household along with things that were not. The descriptive writing style of Ms. Jones is phenomenal....you feel as though you are right on the scene and can see all the details of the surroundings and furnishings. The characters are devilish, fun, and of course proper....well proper for the most part. You will feel each character's mood whether it be fear, pleasure, anger, or irritation. Most of the characters were filled with irritation at the things going on except Smudge who was in a world of her own. Smudge is loveable and comical, but I felt sorry for the poor neglected girl. I can see why she did the things she did. Clovis was lazy, Charlotte was helpless and whiny and had a secret that became revealed to the horror of her family, Emerald was the responsible one, and the servants worked but complained. Charlotte couldn't handle anything out of the ordinary and would hide in her room....Charlotte was the mother of Clovis, Emerald, and Smudge. The children were more able to handle things than she could.The book took a few pages to get going, but don't put it down....it is humorous and a bit odd. I enjoyed the book because of its being a bit absurd and because the proper English household wasn't a usual proper household. You will love the characters as I mentioned above. There is one chapter that is frightening because of the behaviors of one of the uninvited guests who was allowed to associate with the family, but overall it was an amusing look into an English household. 4/5 This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher and TLC Tours without compensation in return for an honest review.
  • (2/5)
    This started out with a lot of promise, but ended up disappointing me.
  • (4/5)
    The writing is light, delightful, witty, and perceptive from the first page of this comedy of manners. Which is a good thing because it carries it through much of the first third of the book which drags somewhat as the high expectations build but never reach fruition. But then the mock turtle soup breaks, spills all over the floor, and inaugurates a new and even more enthralling phase of the book.

    The Unwanted Guests is set in England in 1912 and is an upstair-downstairs comedy, although the downstairs is somewhat reduced by the financial state of the family. It takes place in a 24-hour period that is meant to be a birthday party, and potential betrothal, for the daughter but goes badly awry when the third class passengers, plus one ostensible first class passenger, from a nearby train wreck show up for shelter. The increasingly noisy, ungrateful and apparently ever multiplying guests eat their way through everything as they spread around the house.

    Against this backdrop, it is a Shakespeare-esque story in which the normal rules are suspended for a night, roles are reversed, unlikely romances form, discoveries are made, but all is restored by the daylight.

    Overall, The Unwanted Guests is well-executed, unique, and mostly an enjoyable read--and it is even more enjoyable in retrospect.
  • (3/5)
    I read this because I was in need of a Downton Abby-esque fix until the program returns later this year. This did the job & also had an unexpected dash of Twilight Zone making me enjoy it just a little more.

    Emerald Torrington is to celebrate her twentieth birthday with a couple close friends & her family but one interruption after another distract. Clovis, her brother, is almost wholly unhelpful & unbearable. Smudge (Imogen), her little sister, is hatching an epic plan & Charlotte, her mother, is infuriatingly deliberately vague & vacant. Charlotte has her own little disaster as it turns out. Her social standing is on the brink & the family being a bit cash poor is straining that even more. Her second husband, Edward, has left to go seek a loan to make things right to Charlotte's mind, so he's absent for much of this story. Toss in Emerald's friends, Patience & Ernest Sutton & longtime family friend, John & the party is rounded out.

    The push-pull between manners & duty begin when the nearby train derails & the survivors of the event show up at the house. There were moments when I wanted to throttle Charlotte & Clovis for their complete lack of tact. For all the pomp & circumstance of manners & civility, they were often rudest of all. Emerald & Patience were much better but far from perfect in the empathy department. It was understandable given who they were but it was just trying to have the passengers corralled into a room (at first without even tea) & Mrs. Trieves & Florence trying to attend to them & still keep on with all of the preparations for Emerald's birthday dinner. I mean, press on & all but they were acting like nothing should slow down or take a back seat in importance because the plan had already been set. Not the most agile group here. It was all the more entertaining to have as the backdrop to all the other dramas, dearest Smudge (I kind of adored this little girl) embarking on her big (& ultimately disastrous but hilarious) plan with Lady, the pony.

    One more uninvited guest shows up & this is where the story takes quite an interesting turn. Charlie. Like Emerald & Smudge, he put me off from the beginning. I was half worried he was some crazed murderer or grifter who was going to take advantage of the family since Edward was away & no butlers or footmen were in the house. I needn't have worried though, it turned out he was something else entirely. And sadly for Charlotte the renewed acquaintance was not to be a happy one. His addition to the story was really one of the things I liked best & probably my favorite part of the book was when he goads everyone into a game of Hinds & Hounds. It was vicious & really made everyone look terrible (with the exception of Ernest). I never completely forgave Emerald, her participation & this made a future development a hard pill to swallow. Charlotte and Clovis became completely irredeemable for me. I loved those as developments in character.

    In the end, the storm clears, the passengers have mysteriously gone, a new day begins & there's love in the air (contrived as hell & completely unexplainable given events). I had a bit of trouble with Edward returning with the bequest that saves the house because it just felt tacked on & didn't really have an explanation that made sense. These instances made the ending feel abrupt & like they were struck off a checklist, not in the least authentic. Still, in the end, I did enjoy reading this & at some point during the dinner it became "unputdownable". It was entertaining & I would read another by Sadie Jones.
  • (3/5)
    This tried to hard to be many books, it tried to be a comedy of manners, but left out most of the comedy; it tried to be a gothic novel, but failed to raise the tension to make it truly that. It feels like a vaguely magical realistic period piece with unlikeable characters and I just didn't care enough about what happened.The Torrington family are struggling, great dilapidated pile of a house, daughter turning 20 and now a train crash has landed them with several survivors. Only the survivors aren't of their class, and they're not sure how to deal with them. But what's going on isn't obvious and it will change the people involved.I didn't care, wish I had stopped reading after the 30 pages or so that I found tedious because it didn't change, no matter how much I wanted it to.
  • (5/5)
    A truly remarkable and completely unique book. Veers from comedy through to horror and back to farce in a effortless manner. I have always admired an author who can produce something which no one else has thought of,and Sadie Jones has certainly done it with 'The Uninvited Guests'.The inhabitants of the grand,but shabby house of Sterne,prepare for Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday party. News comes that the survivors of a nearby train crash are about to arrive at the house for shelter and sustenance. Sterne is about to be turned upside down with the arrival of the Uninvited Guests.Brilliant !
  • (3/5)
    This book was pretty weird. You start off thinking you're reading one kind of story, and then it slowly drifts off the road into another kind of book entirely. I also didn't find it watertight in terms of writing, but overall, an entertaining (and fast) read.
  • (3/5)
    I'll admit to being initially drawn to The Uninvited Guests by the cover. Shallow, I know, but there you have it. When positive reviews began appearing around the blogosphere, I added my name to the library hold list and reached the top in just a few weeks. At home, I was delighted to discover the novel has gorgeous endpapers, too. This is a very visually appealing book!

    The Edwardian Era setting helped satisfy my Downton Abbey withdrawal syndrome, and I immediately enjoyed the author's use of language - so smart and witty. Several laugh-out-loud moments had my family raising eyebrows and glancing in my direction. The novel was a quick read and I finished the final half in a single afternoon, an unusual occurrence for me.

    My verdict? Enjoyable overall, yet it fell short of my expectations. The story seemed a little flat and the macabre plot elements just seemed weird. I was expecting more to be made of Smudge's drawings, especially since they adorn the endpapers. The characters, in general, weren't especially likable and I never really cared about any of them.

    I found myself thinking about the book for several days after finishing. My appreciation may have increased slightly, yet I still can't muster more than a 'good' rating.
  • (4/5)
    What a strange and quirky book this was! The momentum builds and the plot gets hectic and then you are brought around to a good story, and funny at times, and a mystery indeed! Loved it. Another book that sat on my TBR shelf for some time, but this makes these books a joy to find.
  • (3/5)
    This is a very different story from Sadie Jones 1st 2 novels and while well written I found it a much less engaging read. Although another historical novel, there is no social justice angle, which lent the earlier novels weight. There are just too many country house novels around at the moment and I'm bored with reading about the so called problems of the landed gentry (or those posing as the landed gentry) to maintain their country piles while doing nothing useful with their lives and living off the blood, sweat & tears of their forelock tugging servants. The characters in this novel have few redeeming features & it was hard to feel any empathy with any of them, except perhaps for Smudge & her adventures with her pony in the bedroom! A strange mix of ghost story & farce.
  • (4/5)
    This is the first book that I've read by Sadie Jones. I read it knowing nothing about it, but that Jones is a well-respected author, the cover is striking and it was there on the English language shelf at the local bookstore. This is the kind of book which should be read all in one go, or as close to that as possible. It has the feel of an Oscar Wilde play, were Wilde to have written about a disastrous birthday party.Emerald is turning twenty. Her stepfather, whom she does't love, but also doesn't hate the way her brother Clovis does, won't be there. He's on his way to Birmingham in a last ditch attempt to get the money that would allow them to stay in their beloved home. But her best friend, Patience, will be there, along with her brother. The housekeeper has prepared an elaborate menu, everyone is dressed up, including Clovis and Emerald's much younger sister, Smudge and the celebration is about to begin when news comes of a horrible train derailment on the branch line, and the survivors are to sheltered at Sterne until the railroad can collect them. What follows is an unusual evening, where the celebrants try to continue as though nothing is different, and despite one of the travelers having insinuated himself into their festivities. The survivors, sequestered in the morning room, are growing increasingly unhappy and, it seems, numerous. And Smudge has brilliant plan of her own. This is pure entertainment, of the kind involving crossed communications and new reactions to old friends, but also high comedy and an increasing feeling that things are very much not right.
  • (2/5)
    This started out really well and at about 2/3rds distance just completely went off the rails and ended in, for me, a disappointing mess. Set in a well to do house, pre-WW1, that's clearly fallen on bad times, it takes place on Emerald's 20th birthday. Her step father is off on business, trying to save them from losing the house while she has guests over for a dinner party. So there's a fair amount of to-do, what with the guests arriving and one of the housemaids being off ill. There's also a fair amount of family angst going in, with Emerald's brother Clovis being a typical bothersome brother and their younger sister Imogen (Smudge) who seems to be poorly. Clovis is sent to the station to collect patience & her brother Ernest from the station, only they end up being gone a long time, returning with the nes that there's been a train accident on the branchline and that the railway need to send the passengers up to the house to shelter. Emerald manages to be the level headed mature one, while her mother seems to shrink from the passengers and is quite cruel and rather snobbish. Then a further guests appears and the front door and promptly invites himself to dinner, claiming acquaintance with Charlotte (the mother). He is clearly a bounder and a cad, but is older and so manages to overwhelm by sheer force of personality the other males at the dinner party. things get increasingly out of hand, with the number of stranded passengers seeming to increase and become more and more demanding and unruly. All the while, Smudge embarks on her great undertaking (which is just brilliantly funny and I really won't give that away). And it's somewhere here that it goes wrong for me. Emerald & the younger members of the party come good and rally round to aid the passengers, while Charlotte goes all self centered and shuts herself away. Then the caddish passenger who's infiltrated the party introduces a game that turns really quite nasty, resulting in revelations about Charlotte's youth that do not reflect well on her. And then the bombshell hits (spoiler time) and the guests is revealed as a ghost who's died in the train accident, only his proximity and strong passions for Charlotte cause him to materialise and drags the other dead souls with him. And so it limps on to the end becoming ever more far fetched, and the ending is completely unsatisfactorily resolved. So Its 4 stars for the first 2/3rds but the final section drops that score to a merely Ok 2 because I was so disappointed in it. If it had been sustained it would have been a stonking good book.
  • (4/5)
    What else could happen on Emerald's birthday....her step-father leaves for one day to try to save their home, a friend isn't coming for her birthday, a suitor who isn't anyone she likes gives her a gift, a train accident that causes twenty or more "uninvited guests" to stay at their home, grumpy servants, and then Smudge's decision to carry out a ridiculous undertaking.The Torrington family definitely had a situation on their hands mostly caused by the folks who have been in the morning room all day from the accident site and had only been given tea. Would they be staying there for more than that evening or would the railway station drop by and take them to their original destinations? No communication from the railway station was bad enough, but if the Torringtons thought the uninvited guests were a bad situation, wait until they find out what Smudge has done...their uninvited guests may not be considered a bad situation.This book was filled with the propriety of an English household along with things that were not. The descriptive writing style of Ms. Jones is phenomenal....you feel as though you are right on the scene and can see all the details of the surroundings and furnishings. The characters are devilish, fun, and of course proper....well proper for the most part. You will feel each character's mood whether it be fear, pleasure, anger, or irritation. Most of the characters were filled with irritation at the things going on except Smudge who was in a world of her own. Smudge is loveable and comical, but I felt sorry for the poor neglected girl. I can see why she did the things she did. Clovis was lazy, Charlotte was helpless and whiny and had a secret that became revealed to the horror of her family, Emerald was the responsible one, and the servants worked but complained. Charlotte couldn't handle anything out of the ordinary and would hide in her room....Charlotte was the mother of Clovis, Emerald, and Smudge. The children were more able to handle things than she could.The book took a few pages to get going, but don't put it down....it is humorous and a bit odd. I enjoyed the book because of its being a bit absurd and because the proper English household wasn't a usual proper household. You will love the characters as I mentioned above. There is one chapter that is frightening because of the behaviors of one of the uninvited guests who was allowed to associate with the family, but overall it was an amusing look into an English household. 4/5 This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher and TLC Tours without compensation in return for an honest review.
  • (2/5)
    this book left me puzzled. the people were so unreal. only during one on one conversation you had a sense of reality. and what about the passangers? would anyone treat them like this? or where they even real? they vanished without a trace, same as Charlie. where they ghosts? and the sex scene towards the end was so strange to be thrown in.
  • (1/5)
    Set in (according to Amazon.com’s product description) 1912, The Uninvited Guests takes place over the course of one day at an old English estate. It’s Emerald Torrington’s birthday, and her stepfather (who she and her younger brother inexplicably hate) has gone off to seek funding for the failing estate. Meanwhile, a train accident happens “on a branch line,” and a group of survivors show up at the house to be held for the interim.I really did want to like this book, but I didn’t I love historical fiction, especially fiction set in the Edwardian period, but I felt as though the author didn’t give her reader a good sense of time. Aside from the odd mention of cars or clothes, this book could be set in any time—1912, 1962, or even 2012. In fact, there was a distinctly modern feel to the characters.There are a number of plot points that I didn’t quite care for. First of all, it’s never really explained why Emerald and her brother Clovis hate their stepfather, so I got a bad taste in my mouth about them right from the first. I think we’re supposed to see the whole family as endearingly eccentric, but both Emerald and Clovis come across as incredibly spoiled brats and not particularly likable. There are some creative plot twists in this book, but they didn’t make much sense overall. So although I wanted to like this book, it’s not one that I’d really recommend.
  • (1/5)
    The Torringtons live on an estate that is about to be foreclosed upon. It is the eve of eldest daughter Emerald’s birthday and despite everything they are determined to welcome their invited guests and celebrate properly. After seeing off their stepfather, who is going on an attempt to stave off the foreclosure, they are informed of a nearby train wreck and the fact that they are to receive the survivors until the railway company can arrange to pick them up. Sure enough, a small group of shell-shocked people soon arrive on their doorstep. Something is not quite right about the group, and they are given tea and shut into the morning room, so as not to interrupt the birthday festivities. Neither the survivors nor the homeowners are happy about the arrangement and sure enough, chaos ensues. Chaos is given a hearty helping hand by a single mysterious stranger who seems to know much more about the family than he should.

    I was expecting to like this book. It is billed as a combination mystery, ghost story and English social comedy. For me it was none of the above. Oh, there were humourous moments, and some mystery, but overall it just failed to deliver because everything seemed so improbable. I know its fiction, but still? It lacked the elegance of a good Edwardian story. The only saving grace in this book is the character of Smudge, the youngest daughter. She charmingly walks to the beat of her own drum and for the most part also cannot fathom what is happening in her own home. A feeling she had in common with this reader.
  • (3/5)
    It is the day of Emerald Torrington’s twentieth birthday and things do not go exactly as planned. She and her brother Clovis await the arrival of Patience and her mother, neither of which are entirely wanted at the affair. Their step-father is off to Manchester to try and save Sterne, the house they live in.Everything is surprisingly alright until Patience and her mother are to be met at the train and they are asked to allow passengers from a different train which has gone off of it’s tracks.So, between trying to remain some bit of decorum to their lifestyle and house upwards of fifty displaced persons, not to mention a mother who absents herself whenever she can, a maid who happens to be sick and various other inconveniences. (One of which Smudge, Emerald’s younger sister, who goes on a Great Undertaking.) Emerald (with help from some others) manages it all.This book was an absolute delight to read from beginning to end. I honestly could not put it down and myself gasping at the surprises and shaking with laughter at each new thing. It is full of English humor and wit. I cannot describe how sad I was to finish it is so short a period of time. It was marvelous and I plan on picking up some the author’s other work soon. With much anticipation of her new books in the future.
  • (3/5)
    Not bad, not great. I can understand why some may recommend it to fans of Downton Abbey and usually I'd really be into a British family story...but this one just wasn't what I wanted to read at the moment.
  • (3/5)
    I've never read anything by Sadie Jones before, so reading a book by an author new to me is always exciting. It was an interesting premise, an Edwardian family living in an isolated manor house who, following an accident, agree to provide sanctuary for a group of strangers. But somehow it didn't quite work. The real ghosts at the feast were the ghostly echoes of the great ghost stories which flitted across the pages, but never quite settled or formed into anything substantial making this a unsatisfying read.
  • (3/5)
    I was deeply disappointed in this book, as I had enjoyed Sadie Jones' previous fiction very much. The Edwardian setting of the story was well drawn, but the plot was peculiar to say the least. It was as though the author hadn't decided what type of book she was writing. There were places where the action became farcical, and with the best will in the world I could not suspend my disbelief. The description of the attempts to coax the pony down the stairs went on and on, and on and on... I kept hoping it would improve and something would pull the tale together but it never did. Lets hope this book is just an aberation in a long writing career, and that Ms Jones' next book will get back to reality and fine writing.
  • (4/5)
    A gathering has assembled to celebrate the occasion of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. Present are Miss Torrington, her mother Charlotte, younger sister Smudge, brother Clovis, friend Patience and her brother Edmund, and John who is a possible suitor for Emerald. Rounding out the cast is housekeeper Florence. Edmund is Charlotte's husband and stepfather to Emerald and her siblings. He is away during the party to put forth an effort to secure money to save the family estate. During the party an train crashes and the family is instructed by the railway to house the survivors until the morning. Among the survivors is a man named Charlie Traversham-Beechers who has some connection to Charlotte's past. Charlie becomes the de facto leader of the railway survivors whose needs throughout the night increasingly press on the family. A particularly nasty parlor game conducted by Charlie reveals long held family secrets which force Charlotte to face up to her past.I was attracted to the idea that this novel was compared to Downton Abbey meeting The Others. Downton Abbey mixed with the supernatural? Sign me up. The execution however was somewhat disappointing. The first three quarters of the novel dragged for me. Once it hit the parlor game and the character of Charlie came to the forefront I was hooked in. In the end I very much enjoyed the story even though it took a long time to connect.
  • (4/5)
    I'm not sure how to describe this novel, except to say it deserved to be read in one sitting.Emerald Torrington is set to celebrate her 20th birthday with her family and a few close friends at a dinner at her family home, Sterne, in April 1912. The night is thrown into disarray when, as her guests arrive, so does news of a train derailment, sending dozens of passengers to Sterne for the evening to await rescue by the railway. The assembled group tries it's best to carry on with the party, but the arrival of an unexpected guest sends the night into an unexpected direction.At first, the novel reminded me very much of the Flavia de Luce novels by Alan Bradley. The tone was playful, and the families were similar in some ways - emotionally distant but loving parents, a family living in genteel poverty, a precocious child, etc. However, that quickly changed as the plot began to turn toward more adult themes.This is a great read that I would definitely recommend.
  • (4/5)
    It's Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday, but things are not going well. Her stepfather is headed to London to make a last ditch attempt at saving their beloved home, Sterne; her handsome brother Clovis is sulking and refusing to cooperate with birthday arrangements; their neglected little sister Imogen ("Smudge") is ill, but not so ill that she cannot plot a Great Undertaking. Into this domestic welter comes the news that a train has derailed nearby, and the surviving passengers must seek shelter at Sterne. Arrive they do, as the Torringtons struggle to reconcile proper birthday dinner party arrangements with the increasingly peculiar needs of their uninvited guests. Sadie Jones has an antic way with her narration, and as the story descends into darker and creepier depths, the narration becomes paradoxically funnier. Strangely, this does not detract from the genuinely eerie moments, but rather makes the entire story tenser - as the story gets creepier, the desire to laugh becomes more shocking (yet just as irresistible) to the reader. At least, to me. Gothic, but sparkling, if that makes any sense. It makes sense when Sadie Jones does it.