Unabridged Chick

I'm Audra, a 30-something married lesbian. I love interesting heroines, gorgeous prose, place as character, and the occasional werewolf.
The Uninvited Guests - Sadie Jones I loved this book. I loved Jones' writing style, her language, her use of words -- I literally was jubilant while reading, delighted by the multifaceted bounce of her narrative and dialogue. The text of this novel had personality, was a character in this story, and the tale it offered captured me from the first line.Set in 1912 at Sterne, an isolated English country estate, the story focuses on one night with the Torrington family: Charlotte, a 50-ish beauty with a cold demeanor and a loving second marriage; her three children -- Clovis, dark and bitter, Emerald, sweet and loyal, and Smudge, young, imaginative, and often forgotten; her second husband, the one-armed Edward Swift; Florence Trieves, a housekeeping in mourning; and Emerald's birthday party guests. On the eve of her party, the Torrington's learn of a terrible train accident that requires them to house the Third Class passengers until the railway company can send them on their way, and that is when things really begin to unravel. These uninvited guests provoke the Torringtons and their invited guests in ways none anticipated, and an eventful night transforms into something horrific, frightening, and illuminating for all.I've read reviews that said this family was so unlikeable it was impossible to enjoy the story; to me, the characters were quite flawed but so human, I felt rather tenderly toward them, even Charlotte (who I think is the most despicable, mostly for her treatment of her children). This is a family raised in Victorian mores and ideals, living in an Edwardian society of flashy beauty and changing values, formerly affluent but now dependent on the possibility of a loan to keep them afloat. When I closed the book, I could say I loved every single character in this novel -- every one. They were real, anchored solidly by Jones' marvelous turn-of-phrase (the dialogue! the descriptive passages!) and given flight by the ludicrous and chilling plot. There's a madcap pace to the end of the novel that strained credulity (and shockingly, it wasn't the supernatural elements!) but I loved it for pushing me past my expectations. Part domestic drama, part class exploration, part spoof on English country life, The Uninvited Guests is a fascinating, creepy, and moving look at obligation, motivation, and loyalty. Gushingly recommended.