Title: The Uninvited Guests
Author: Sadie Jones
Publication Year: May 2012
Setting: EnglandSource: Amazon Vine
Date Completed: 3/30/2012
Rating: 4/5Recommend: yes
It's 1912 and a remote, rundown country manor in northern England is the setting for The Uninvited Guests -- that alone made me want to read this book. I was also intrigued by the fact the entire story takes place in a 24-hour period.
Charlotte Torrington Swift, her second and current husband Edward Swift, who she married soon after the death of her husband Horace, and children Emerald, Clovis and Imogene (Smudge) live at Stern House. The manor has been in the family for many many years. The Torrington-Swifts are having financial issues, and the family is on the verge of losing Stern House, the home they love. As the novel begins Edward is heading off on a trip to Manchester hoping to secure to the money needed to help the family through these difficult times.
It is also the eve of Emerald's 20th birthday, and the family and servants are preparing a lavish party for her. In the midst of all the party activity, a train wreck occurs nearby, and a motley crew of tired and hungry passengers are directed to seek shelter at the Torrington-Swifts, Stern House. The guests are an interesting bunch, who manage to shake things up a bit for the family and staff. One indidvidual in particular, Charles Traversham-Beechers, an "uninvited guest", claims to know an awful lot about the family, and about Charlotte's past. He's an evil sort who seems to be able to lure the guests under his spell. Needless, to say events take an unexpected turn, things get a bit creepy at times, and secrets are slowly exposed.
Told from the 3rd person - POV, I initially had mixed feelings about this book. Most of the characters were well-developed, but unlikeable Some are snobby, rude and self-centered, but little Smudge was my favorite -- she's quite a character. There's lots of foreshadowing, and the novel itself, part mystery, is cleverly written. I especially liked the details that the author outlined for this Edwardian time period. The setting was very atmospheric and remote, and seemed perfect for "the uninvited guests", and the spell the novel seemed to cast. In the end I was happy that I read this one, but I'm guessing I understand why the reviews seem mixed and why some readers might not enjoy this one.