The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
While Emerald, her brother Clovis, her beautiful and haughty mother Charlotte, and youngest sister Imogene prepare for Emerald’s 20th birthday party, step-father Edward Swift leaves early that morning in an attempt to save his wife’s house. The invited guests, brother and sister Ernest and Patience Sutton, and wealthy neighbor and bachelor John Buchcanan, soon arrive at Sterne. However, things take an interesting and unexpected turn when the Torrington’s are charged with taking in the survivors of a horrible train wreck until the railroad can make arrangements for their displaced passengers.
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones is set in 1912 in the English countryside, at the Torrington’s stately, but rundown and about to be seized for auction, manor house Sterne.
While Emerald, her brother Clovis, her beautiful and haughty mother Charlotte, and youngest sister Imogene prepare for Emerald’s 20th birthday party, step-father Edward Swift leaves early that morning in an attempt to save his wife’s house. The invited guests, brother and sister Ernest and Patience Sutton, and wealthy neighbor and bachelor John Buchcanan, soon arrive at Sterne. However, things take an interesting and unexpected turn when the Torrington’s are charged with sheltering the survivors of a horrible train wreck.
Book Club Party Ideas for The Uninvited Guests
Ideas for decorations for The Unvinvited Guests book club party can be found in the following wonderfully descriptive passage:
“China bowls and glass vases held small collections of flowers from the garden: hyacinths, lily of the valley and narcissi. The smell of them, miraculous, with wax furniture polish and blue woodsmoke, went all through the rooms and in the air of the halls and stairs, too. A person might walk from a cool corridor full of the scent of lit fires into a bedroom to find the smell of damp flowers from a pot of wild violets and hot starch from the fresh sheets and flat-creased pillow cases.”
Although, I wouldn’t go so far as lighting fires and flat-creasing my pillow cases, fresh flowers always make me feel happy and festive.
Also, include a couple of Emerald’s birthday gifts in your decorations. Ernest and Patience’s gift to Emerald was slides for her microscope, and John’s gift to Good old Em, as he called her, was a “delicate cameo, elegantly wrought and hanging on the most fragile of gold chains.”
Emerald made much ado over Myrtle’s creative hair styling. Myrtle made her hair “marvellous: improbably shiny, richly looped and piled up upon itself…”
“Myrtle, you’re wasted here; you could make a fortune in hair.”
“Yes, Miss Em,” said Myrtle. “We’ll put the comb in it for your party.”
“Or feathers …” said Emerald.
Encourage your book club party guests to wear their favorite feather comb or head piece to evoke a bit of the Edwardian Period.
Here are a few of the feather hair accessories available from Amazon.
Play Vintage Train Sounds as your The Uninvited Guests discussion is underway.
But, no matter how thick skinned your book club members are, I would avoid playing Charlie’s Pass the Glass game.
Book Club Menu for The Uninvited Guests
Emerald’s birthday party meal was elaborately planned and included mock turtle soup with forcemeat balls and a beautiful cake.
As I searched for a mock turtle soup recipe, I became quite appalled to learn that the meat used in this vintage soup comes from a calf’s head! I decided to substitute chopped brisket for calf’s head to appease my modern palate, and for the fact that calf’s head can’t be found at my local grocer. But, since calf’s head is the KEY ingredient for mock turtle soup, I call my recipe Mock Mock Turtle Soup.
I faced the same dilemma with the forcemeat balls. The recipes I viewed called for suet (yuck) to bind the shredded, cooked meat together. I finally found a recipe at VintageRecipes.com that uses eggs to bind the meat.
Florence and Myrtle labored over the meal and cake for Emerald’s party. Emerald’s Glossy Chocolate Birthday Cake sounds especially beautiful.
“The candles were tall, fast-burning tapers. She had piped Emerald on it, and the grains of sugar in the writing and the green roses shone like diamond dust.”
Click the link for a simple and easy to follow guide on making sugar roses at cherrymenlove.com/homebaking.
Book Club Resources
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.12 stars (952 ratings)|
|Amazon: 3.2 stars (78 ratings)|
|LibraryThing: 3.35 stars (47 ratings)|
|My Rating: 4 stars Despite the fact that there seems to be quite a few fellow readers that thoroughly disliked this book, I found it highly entertaining, smart, and completely engaging. The plot twist surprised me, as well.|
- How well did Sadie Jones’ writing style evoke the Edwardian period of this novel? Did you find the language difficult or did it add to the atmosphere of the period? How did it affect your reading of the novel?
- What purpose does the Charlie Traversham-Beecher character serve in this novel?
- Why, do you suppose, were Emerald, Clovis, Charlotte, and the Suttons so easily manipulated by Charlie during the parlor game?
- Several critiques have sited the lack of any likable or sympathetic characters in The Uninvited Guests. Do you agree or disagree with this assessment? Explain.
- In 1912 England, a rigid class system was still very much a part of life and was rarely breached. Although, the Torrington’s considered themselves part of the higher reaches of society, in what ways did they not quite fit those strictures?
- The Uninvited Guests has been described as a “comedy of manners”. Discuss how The Uninvited Guests fits hat genre.
Purchase The Uninvited Guests at your favorite bookseller
|Sadie Jones is the author of the novels The Outcast, winner of the Costa First Novel Award in the United Kingdom and a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; and Small Wars, a tale of love, war, and honor, which was published to critical praise on both sides of the Atlantic. The Uninvited Guests is her third novel. Sadie Jones lives in London. – from Harper Collins Publishers||
May 2012 Indie Next List
Other Works by Author and Recommended Reading
Personal Insights, Favorite Quotes, etc…
Here is a great little book trailer for The Uninvited Guests.
I love the review below from Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress. It pretty much sums up how I feel about The Uninvited Guests.
“What a delicious read! Like something written by a wicked Jane Austen, here is love and terror in a ramshackle manor house complete with railway survivors, a birthday party and a pony. I was completely captivated by its madcap nature and then, utterly unprepared for the strange fruit that the story became. Passing like a spring fever, here is a fairy tale that stays with you long after it is gone. I couldn’t put it down.”
And lastly, here is a favorite quote from The Uninvited Guests (also cited in the video clip above).
“She was obeying a prompt, an instinct left over, perhaps, from an earlier time; the instinct that stops a mouse in its short-sighted tracks when a cat is watching it from a chair; that makes a dog lying by the fire tremble, and whimper, when there is no one near to see.”
Do you have any other ideas or recipes for a book club party for The Uninvited Guests? We would love to have you share them with us! You can leave a comment below and upload pictures as well.
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