Originally published: 18 May 2023
Author: Emma Cline
Published by: Chatto & Windus
Genre: Literary Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Reading dates: 1-3 May 2023
Summer is coming to a close on Long Island, and Alex is no longer welcome…
One misstep at a dinner party and the older man she’s been staying with dismisses her with a ride to the train station and a ticket back to the city. With few resources, but a gift for navigating the desires of others, Alex stays on the island. She drifts like a ghost through the gated driveways and sun-blasted dunes of a rarefied world, trailing destruction in her wake.
Taut, sensual and impossible to look away from, The Guest captures the latent heat and potential danger of a summer that could go either way for a young woman teetering on the edge.
I loved Emma Cline’s first novel, The Girls when I read it back in 2017 so was thrilled to be offered the chance to read The Guest!
The book is told from the point of view of Alex, a young woman who is staying with an older richer man Simon on Long Beach, enjoying her life of leisure, spending time at the beach and in his pool and attending parties with him. We almost immediately find she is running from someone who keeps messaging her but she is hoping Simon will sort out the problem for her and it will go away.
When she damages Simon’s car and then misbehaves at a party, Simon decides to cut her loose, giving her a train ticker back to the city. But she decides not to go, thinking she will be able to make it up to Simon at a big party he has planned so with no money and no where to stay, she spends the next few days, taking advantage of everyone she meets in order to stay afloat.
Alex is not the most likable of characters – she is selfish and manipulative, a thief and a prescription drug addict. She uses people without a second thought but I still wanted to read about her! I have to say I admired her ingenuity at times – she is skilled at getting what she wants. The glamourous setting made me yearn for summer holidays somewhere hot (and wish I was richer 😂 and could afford to stay in places like these).
I can’t wait to see what other reviewers think of this book. I seem to remember The Girls really dividing readers and I think The Guest will do the same!
But I found it an absolutely compelling book which I read with a real sense of foreboding, a great read!
Thank you so much to Vintage Books for my proof copy.
About the author:
Emma Cline is the author of The Girls, the story collection Daddy, and The Guest, a novel forthcoming in May 2023.
The Girls was an international bestseller and was a finalist for a National Book Critic’s Circle Award, the First Novel Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was the winner of the Shirley Jackson Award.
The winner of the Plimpton Prize, Cline was also named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists.
Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The New York Times, Granta and The Best American Short Stories.
In 2019, Cline was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Story Prize, and in 2021, she won an O. Henry Prize for “White Noise.”