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The Guest

By Emma Cline
The Guest by Emma Cline digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

A young woman pretends to be someone she isn’t in this “spellbinding” (Vogue), “smoldering” (The Washington Post) novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Girls.
“Under Cline’s command, every sentence as sharp as a scalpel, a woman toeing the line between welcome and unwelcome guest becomes a fully destabilizing force.”—The New York Times

“Alex drained her wineglass, then her water glass. The ocean looked calm, a black darker than the sky. A ripple of anxiety made her palms go damp. It seemed suddenly very tenuous to believe that anything would stay hidden, that she could successfully pass from one world to another.”

Summer is coming to a close on the East End of Long Island, and Alex is no longer welcome.

A 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 and a waterlogged phone, but gifted with an ability to navigate the desires of others, Alex stays on Long Island and drifts like a ghost through the hedged lanes, gated driveways, and sun-blasted dunes of a rarefied world that is, at first, closed to her. Propelled by desperation and a mutable sense of morality, she spends the week leading up to Labor Day moving from one place to the next, a cipher leaving destruction in her wake.

Taut, propulsive, and impossible to look away from, Emma Cline’s The Guest is a spellbinding literary achievement.

3 Reviews


“But maybe some things could never be erased. Maybe they tinted some cellular level of your experience, and even if you scraped away whatever part was on the surface, the rot had already gotten beneath. I mulled over this book for days before attempting a review. To be honest, I'm not quite sure what to make of it. I read, and admired, Emma Cline's luminous first novel, 'The Girls' so I was excited to be approved by NetGalley to read her second. Alex is a 23-year-old woman who literally sponges off people, mostly men. She has no job and we're not told where she's from. She doesn't appear to have a tertiary education. Instead, she arrived in New York hoping to attach herself to someone rich, who'll look after her. She manages to flit from man to man, leeching off them, often taking things just a little too far (she sometimes steals cash, a bit of jewellery here and there). When the novel opens, Alex is living in a holiday home on Long Island, somewhere akin to the Hamptons. Her current beau is a much older man named Simon. Things are going well with him – she might even like him. Alex is on the run from a menacing previous boyfriend (if we can call the men she dates that) named Dom, from whom she stole a substantial amount of money. But she feels safe with Simon, insulated. Simon is preparing for his annual Labor Day party a week away. Then, Alex makes a mistake, and Simon kicks her out. With nowhere to go (she's used and abused pretty much everyone on her contact list), Alex tells herself Simon will forgive her, and all she needs to do is wait it out until the party when she'll show up and he'll welcome her back. The problem is where does she hide out until then? Alex is a hot mess, and extremely unlikeable. I kind of wanted her to be saved, but I also felt like she deserved a bit of a comeuppance. She is a real freeloader and has no personality of her own – she simply projects the persona she thinks men will like in order for them to take care of her. She's always a guest, someone who has to step carefully in order to keep the facade going. Emma Cline's writing is excellent – stark, to the point and yet, slightly dreamy. I struggled to rate this book, however. I kept moving between three and four stars. If there were half-stars on Goodreads I would probably have given it a 3.5. I just really struggled with Alex as a character. I think she's supposed to be distasteful to the reader but the fact that there is no real resolution also puzzled me. It's kind of brilliant but also really frustrating.”
“Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. This was so close to being a 5 star read for me. But that ending...Emma Cline played me with that ending. (Don't worry, I will not be spoiling anything) The synopsis was intriguing, but also vague enough that when I got to reading, I didn't know what to expect. This novel felt like a puzzle; every new detail meant getting closer to figuring out what the hell was going on, and if our mc would suffer the consequences of her unruly actions. The writing was incredibly addicting. I am surprised that this kind of novel captivated me the way it did because tbh, this is one of those "no plot, just vibes" kind of books. And the "vibes" are not super pleasant, but I was still incredibly immersed. I was never bored, and I was actually quite anxious when I got to the last chapter because I didn't want to part with this story—not until all my questions were answered. Alas, I was not completely satisfied once it was over. BUT...did Cline need to spell everything out for me to enjoy this? No. I love how this novel flipped the well known narrative of men as predators. And not that we didn't know women could be predators/abusers/crooks/etc., and with this whole epidemic of "unhinged women" in fiction, we have seen more and more depictions of "female rage," but The Guest was slightly different. The argument could be made that our mc, Alex, is not mentally sound, but Cline brilliantly presented why it doesn't matter if Alex (or any woman) attempts to play the role of predator, of deceiver—she will still feel fear deep in her bones the second a man tries to seek revenge. She will still be hunted, mere prey once again. Now, this doesn't excuse Alex of her decisions, so she was a complex character to say the least. I enjoyed how Cline depicted male vulnerability, as well as the reminder that true kindness does exist, even if you're someone that rather continue denying it. All in all, this worked for me. I have my qualms, but I know I won't stop thinking about this book for a good while. Thanks so much to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.”

About Emma Cline

Emma Cline is the New York Times bestselling author of The Girls and the story collection Daddy. The Girls was a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and the winner of the Shirley Jackson Award. Cline’s stories have been published in The New Yorker, Granta, The Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories. She received the Plimpton Prize from The Paris Review and an O. Henry Award, and was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists.

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