Original date of publication: 2011
My edition: 2011 (Harper)
Why I decided to read: it’s a review copy
How I acquired my copy: Amazon Vine program, January 2011
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.