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.
From the very first pages of The Guest, we are caught up in Alex’s story, following her along as she moves from place to place, trying to escape some kind of mishap, while still delaying her return to a man named Simon, who will soon be hosting a Labor Day party.
She is a fascinating character who slides into various places without making her presence really known. She is sneaky, moving along and keeping her secrets without much effort. She has a true talent for staying out of sight or on the edge of whatever is happening.
We keep wondering what her plan is, and how she will find her way back to where she wants to be.
The story ends in a very tentative way, and we are still wondering. An intense tale that held my interest throughout. 4.5 stars.