The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Edwardian setting of this novel and the outrageous antics of the family in this book reminded me of the tone and style of Alan Bradley. The premise of the book is that it is Emerald's birthday and guests have been invited for her birthday dinner. Her family may be losing their home -- Sterne is an ancestral pile that their father bought from someone else's ancestors--and her stepfather has left to try and borrow money to save the house. As the invited guests arrive so does news of a terrible train accident. The family is expected to take in the survivors of the crash and the already chaotic house is thrown into further turmoil.
Besides the writing style, what I really liked about this book was the way the characters were twisted around by circumstances and forced to figure out (along with the reader) who they were and where their loyalties lay. I also loved the character of Smudge, the youngest daughter. She does something outrageous (I won't spoil what it is) which she had thought through and planned out and which seemed such a good idea to her until the moment she realizes that it is a disaster and she is in too deep to get out. I have had that experience (though not with the specific project she embarks on) and I thought the depiction of the feeling was spot-on.