Title: The Guest
Author: Emma Cline
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.
The Guest follows Alex, a 22-year-old woman residing in New York City, whose life is spiralling out of control – a predicament that might be well-deserved. Alex has been exploiting those around her to such an extent that she has finally depleted her supply of willing benefactors. Now, she finds herself kicked out of Simon’s residence, an older man she had been involved with, and left with nowhere to stay. But she thinks that, if she can just survive until the date of Simon’s annual Labor Day party (a week later), she will be able to win him back…
Throughout the course of a week, we follow Alex as she aimlessly roams the city streets, desperately hoping to find someone to exploit for financial support, shelter, or a fleeting thrill. Her cunning, shamelessness, and desperation create a captivating narrative, even though in some ways it might seem that not much ‘happens’. Personally, I found myself completely engrossed in Alex’s lifestyle of manipulating and leeching off others to fulfil her desires.
The story is skillfully narrated in the third person, offering a somewhat detached perspective on Alex’s character. But, as observers, we are exposed to her often shocking actions. Alex lacks likability but her captivating nature as a character made the book a swift and enthralling read. I would have eagerly delved deeper into Alex’s story had there been more to explore.
While the ending wasn’t what I expected, the book left a lasting impression that lingered in my thoughts long after I turned the final page.
My rating: 4.5/5
Many thanks to the publisher, Vintage, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.