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Poorly Written,
Slow,
Pointless

3 reviews

An Unexpected Guest: A Novel
by Anne Korkeakivi

Published: 2013-07-02
Paperback : 304 pages
11 members reading this now
5 clubs reading this now
0 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 3 members
"A beautifully written novel about living with our many selves."
- Nicola Keegan, author of Swimming
Clare Moorhouse, the American wife of a high-ranking diplomat in Paris, is arranging an official dinner crucial to her husband's career. As she shops for fresh stalks of asparagus and ...
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Introduction

"A beautifully written novel about living with our many selves."
- Nicola Keegan, author of Swimming

Clare Moorhouse, the American wife of a high-ranking diplomat in Paris, is arranging an official dinner crucial to her husband's career. As she shops for fresh stalks of asparagus and works out the menu and seating arrangements, her day is complicated by the unexpected arrival of her son and a random encounter with a Turkish man, whom she discovers is a suspected terrorist. More unnerving is a recurring face in the crowd, one that belonged to another, darker era of her life. One she never expected to see again.

Like Virginia Woolf did in Mrs. Dalloway, Anne Korkeakivi brilliantly weaves the complexities of an age into an act as deceptively simple as hosting a dinner party.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

ime rained down on Clare. 8:30 a.m. on the clock hanging above the breakfast alcove. Twenty-five years of pretending Ireland never existed.

She would have to step again into that air terminal. Stare into the dark waters of the River Liffey. Look over her shoulder at every instant.

Remember.

“The ambassador has just been diagnosed with viral pneumonia,” Edward had whispered last evening, sliding his BlackBerry into his inner jacket pocket, as they entered a cocktail reception for the Franco-British Entente Cordiale program. “And the permanent under-secretary’s flight touched down at Charles de Gaulle forty-five minutes ago. He’s requested the dinner in his honor tomorrow night be shifted to our place.” ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Who bears responsibility for Clare’s youthful choice? What changed over time to make it seem so terrible to her? Does she make the best choice(s) at the end of the book?
2. What weight does memory have in our lives? What are we entitled to shed from our pasts? Can even bad memories sometimes prove useful?

3. Could Clare have handled her day--multitasking a medley of personal, professional, and familial needs while preparing and hosting a formal dinner--differently? Is having to balance public and private lives an atypical experience?

4. Clare inhabits a beautiful apartment in Paris with full-time staff, but “the splendor belonged to the crown; she and Edward were just staff (and she unpaid staff, at that),” and she has almost no privacy and little free will. How would most people feel in their lifestyle?

5. Clare and Edward keep secrets from each other, and we learn that Edward has distinct views on the matter. Is it necessary in a marriage to know everything about your partner?

6. Jamie is clearly his mother's son, but is Clare completely responsible for his dangerous blunder? Has being the child of a dual-national marriage and having lived in many different places influenced his behavior? Are Clare’s initial efforts to protect him from his father and Edward from Jamie prudent? What about her eventual action?

7. What is the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist? Are there instances when political action—even violent—outside of norms is defensible?

8. What effect might 9/11 have had on perceptions of unlawful political action? On expatriate or global living? On diplomacy?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "An Unexpected Guest "by claire.dorey (see profile) 04/28/13

I enjoyed reading this very intriguing novel- unraveling details about the main character and her life little by little much like a detective novel. It also allows the reader to get a glimpse at a high-level... (read more)

 
  "An Unexpected Guest"by Scoop (see profile) 06/21/12

It took the author 228 pages to write about the main character planning a dinner party which was the main story line. There were other story lines intermingled but not related. A couple of these were... (read more)

 
  "Provacative book that prompts good discussions"by LizGoldsmith (see profile) 05/30/12

Wonderful choice for a book club read as it has so many interesting aspects to discuss. The book is well-written with evocative descriptions of Paris and the life of an ex-patriot.

But t

... (read more)

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