Sadie Jones’ THE UNINVITED GUESTS
I loved Sadie Jones’ first two books. OUTCAST was an amazing debut that rivaled Ian McEwan’s brilliance. It was about a young boy whose father has been away during the war, he grows a strong attachment to his mother that his father can’t understand and when his mother dies he is emotionally rejected by his father. It is quite simply brilliant and could easily have scooped a number of literary awards.
There was a lot to live up to, not to mention the usual pressure of the second novel, but SMALL WARS lived up to expectations. Set in the 1950s it follows a newly married couple who go to Cyprus as the husband, an army officer, is posted there. The novel expertly looks at the pressure this situation puts on the couple individually and as a couple as well as the complicated situation of Cyprus and the end of British imperialism.
When I asked for a reading copy of THE UNINVITED GUESTS I was told twice that her new book was “very different”. I never like it when an author writes the same book twice so I took the comments optimistically, unfortunately it was code. The book is set in 1912 and centers on a family who might lose their house as their money and income is running out. The eldest daughter is about to celebrate her twentieth birthday and is throwing a party that evening. However a horrific train accident changes everything. You never connect with any of the family members or the invited party guests and the story jumps between the cast of characters too quickly. The actual plot is supposed to be a ghost story which doesn’t work in the slightest and the ‘happy’ ending is lumpy icing on a bitter cake.
I was bitterly disappointed with this book. OUTCAST and SMALL WARS are brilliant books and Sadie Jones is a talented writer. This just didn’t work for me. Not in the slightest.