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The Guest
Cover of The Guest
The Guest
Borrow Borrow
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • 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
LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/FAULKNER AWARD • A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, Time, NPR, The Washington Post, Financial Times, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Vogue, Glamour, Newsweek, Good Housekeeping, Slate, Time Out, Chicago Public Library, Electric Lit, Bookreporter
“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.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • 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
LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/FAULKNER AWARD • A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, Time, NPR, The Washington Post, Financial Times, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Vogue, Glamour, Newsweek, Good Housekeeping, Slate, Time Out, Chicago Public Library, Electric Lit, Bookreporter
“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.
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About the Author-
  • 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.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2022

    Alex has behaved badly at a dinner party on Long Island's East End, and the older man she's been staying with dismisses her with a train ticket back to New York. Instead, she hangs about town, shifting around and managing slyly to insinuate herself into places where initially she isn't welcome. From the author of the multi-prize-finalist, New York Times best-selling The Girls.

    Copyright 2022 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    April 1, 2023
    Cline's (Daddy, 2020) absorbing novel follows opportunistic twentysomething Alex after she is dumped by older art dealer Simon in his tony beach town. She finds herself with a one-way ticket back to New York City, but things there are bleak. Recently kicked out of her apartment after skipping on rent and stealing from her roommate, she's also on the outs with an angry ex-client, Dom. Rather than return to the city, Alex convinces herself that if she can make it through the week in the wealthy Long Island enclave, she can return to Simon's good graces during his annual Labor Day party. She drifts through the lives of the townsfolk, relying on her charms to gain the trust of partying vacationers, hired help, and high schoolers to navigate the days. Long-simmering tensions build as Labor Day nears, and Alex's situation becomes more complex when she gets tangled up with a troubled teenager, and Dom's attempts to track her down become more threatening. Cline's captivating narrative effortlessly weaves Alex's unapologetic boldness into the varied lives she disrupts.

    COPYRIGHT(2023) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 6, 2023
    A 22-year-old woman loses her apartment and her grip on reality in the provocative latest from Cline (The Girls). After Alex’s sex work dries up, she gets kicked out of her place in New York City and takes up the offer from Simon, an affluent older man, to spend the summer in the Hamptons. All goes well until a week before Simon’s Labor Day party, when Alex dings his car, and Simon suggests she head back to the city. Hoping to preserve what luster she can in Simon’s eyes, she doesn’t mention she has nowhere to go and convinces herself she’ll be welcome at his party. She then launches a series of schemes to get through the next five days, taking advantage of strangers’ assumptions that she belongs. As Alex wanders from a rental full of hard partiers to a pool house on property left vacant for renovations, she draws on her sex work skills to keep herself welcome and leaves a trail of destruction. Before the first couple days are out, she’s slept with another girl’s boyfriend and damaged a blue-chip painting, while holding out hope, however misguided, that Simon will be happy to see her again. Cline has a keen eye for class differences and makes Alex into an intriguing protagonist who has learned to be observant, but must also recognize she’s losing her judgment if she wants to survive. Like watching a car crash, this is hard to look away from. Agent: Bill Clegg, Clegg Agency.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from February 15, 2023
    A week in the life of a 22-year-old grifter in the Hamptons. Cline does pretty-but-creepy like no one else and now takes her brand of alluring ickiness to the wealthy enclaves of Long Island (the location is unnamed but clearly recognizable) in the last week of summer. We meet Alex swimming in the ocean, high on painkillers she's stolen from her man of the moment, a "civilian" named Simon who doesn't know Alex is a working girl and who has invited her to spend the month of August at his place "out east." She floats along thinking about the pile of shoes left at the entrance to the beach, "how easy it would be to take things, out here. All sorts of things. The bikes leaning against the fence. The bags unattended on towels. The cars left unlocked, no one wanting to carry their keys on the beach. A system that existed only because ev-eryone believed they were among people like themselves." Unfortunately, Alex makes a judgment error at a party that evening and ends up getting delivered by Simon's personal assistant to the train station. But she can't go back to the city--her roommates have kicked her out, she's no longer welcome in certain restaurants, and there's a dangerous man who is very, very angry with her. Instead of boarding a train, she attaches herself to a group arriving for a shared rental, successfully pretending to be one of the invitees. When that stops working, she finds another mark. Alex is very good at fooling others, but the trouble is that she's also fooling herself, thinking if she can just make it until Simon's Labor Day party at the end of the week, he'll welcome her return. The riveted reader watches helplessly as her mistakes pile up and the sense of imminent disaster steadily soars, humming in every sentence. "Alex passed the white skeleton of a lifeguard tower." "So many people with open, gnashing mouths and glasses in their hands, their private moons of alcohol." Cline's writing is an addictive treat, and if her cliffhanger ending cuts us off like a mean drug dealer, maybe cold turkey is the only way. A propulsive read starring an irresistible antihero.

    COPYRIGHT(2023) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    April 13, 2023

    With her latest, Cline (The Girls), a Granta Best of Young American Novelists, creates a deeply flawed central character who lives in her own reality with the help of drugs and alcohol. Alex makes her living as an escort in New York City, stealing money, drugs, and valuables from her clients because she thinks they won't mind or she won't be discovered or she will never see them again. She even steals a sizeable amount of money from Dom, a client with scary underworld connections, and then ghosts him. When she attracts the attention of a rich Wall Street broker named Simon who invites her to spend August with him at his house on Long Island, she thinks she might have secured a stable, long-term relationship. But Dom is stalking her, and when Simon finds out about him, he asks Alex to leave. Alex decides that he will cool off in a few days, so she spends a week couch surfing with various people she has duped and arrives, uninvited, at Simon's Labor Day party, expecting to be welcomed back with open arms. Cline cleverly leaves the outcome unresolved, but readers will easily imagine an ending. VERDICT Enjoyable reading for fans of contemporary fiction.--Joanna M. Burkhardt

    Copyright 2023 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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