Cover Image: The Guest

The Guest

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Member Reviews

So, sometimes you read a book and finish it more confused than satisfied. And sometimes that is ok as was my experience with Emma Cline's The Guest. Though set in the expensive playground of the one percenters (AKA The Hamptons), The Guest is the anti-beach read. In a good way.

Our protagonist is Alex, a 22-year-old sex worker who was shown the door by her latest rich boyfriend because of an unfortunate incident at a socialite's house. He has his assistant drive her to the train station to go back to The City, but bad things are awaiting her in the city. So she finds herself in survival mode in The Hamptons, inserting herself into the lives of rich people, adopting fake personas. She's observed the rich in their playgrounds and knows how to shape shift herself into being one of them. 

Or so she thinks, as half of the book she is intoxicated on booze, pills, off brand coke, and whatever else. Is she Alice falling in the rabbit hole? Is she Odysseus on a voyage? Is she the dude traipsing around grocery stores in a robe, swigging from cartons of half and half? 

I still don't know what I think of this book, but it kept my attention the entire time. Thank you Random House and NetGalley for the ARC for my honest review.
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I have read all this authors work and I’ve come to believe that she’s just not for me. This was another story that just was creepy and did not hold my interest.
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Having read and enjoyed The Girls, I can safely say that Emma Cline is now one of my favorite authors. 

I found myself completely immersed in the narrative and always concerned for our main character, Alex, as she drifts and struggles to get through each day among the privileged. She latches onto a coping mechanism of always expecting a positive outcome even though every situation she lands herself in goes terribly wrong.  I was entranced, anxious, always waiting for the worst.

Again, Emma Cline is truly a remarkable writer and I would highly recommend this novel.

Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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If you are vacationing in the Hamptons this summer, this is the book for you.  
Cline has conjured up a story that captures the ambiance and climate of the posh environs of New York's Long Island.  It's easy to identify the places mentioned in the book and fun to guess the locations described.
Assuming you're not familiar with the setting, the focus of the plot will keep you interested.  It's an intense character study of Alex, alone and pitiful, whose hook-ups with an older man leads to a devastating conclusion.  The people she meets along the way evoke pity and contempt simultaneously and the sordid life she continues to lead is a sorry one.
The open-ended conclusion is a mystifying one that will keep you thinking about the story long after it has ended.
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𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗺 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗽𝗼𝘁𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆.

Some are born to wealth and ease, the finer things in life, others work hard to attain it and then there are people like Alex who scheme their way there. Lately, it isn’t so easy to use her youth and beauty, though she is only 22, to live the high life. The places and men she runs through have left her with dwindling prospects, she has even been warned from returning to certain bars, clubs. After spending time with Dom, indulging in drugs and trash tv, she leaves, and we know she has ‘made a mistake’ something that has him swing from the frustration of her not responding to his texts to wild aggression. What has she done? Her roommates have zero compassion for her, don’t even talk to her anymore, have gone so far as to empty out the medicine cabinets. She needs an escape out of the city, she can’t keep putting Dom off. She thinks she sees him lurking outside, but she never gave him her address. One night she meets Simon, he might be the solution to all her problems, for now.

Simon is different from her usual catch, but he just may offer her protection that she desperately needs. August comes around, their dates have gone smoothly with her keeping him from her usual haunts, and he invites Alex to his house out east, just in time for his Labor Day party. She says so long to her outstanding back rent, former roommates, cheap living and Dom. She will simply vanish and he won’t know where to find her and tire of searching.

Simon is well into his fifties but in good shape for his age, she weaves herself into his life, something she is practiced at. If he is a bit severe, overly structured in his ways, she doesn’t care. He lives near the ocean has a big house, just the creature comforts she hungers for. When they aren’t at dinners and garden parties with the wealthy, Alex spends her time relaxing in his pool or on the beach. And if she takes a few of his painkillers and drinks during the lull of her days it doesn’t matter, she is on her very best behavior and this thing she has with Simon could last if she keeps her wits about her. So what if he doesn’t know the real her, let the history stay buried, it’s better to be someone else.

It doesn’t last. She is soon sent packing back to the city, Simon isn’t quite the fool she had him pegged to be but she can’t go back there instead, she uses her skills and clings first to a group of twenty-something-year-olds arriving for vacation, pretending to be one of them. She is so good at performing, knowing just what people desire and uses that to her advantage. She hustles and lies; she is a quick study working strangers from any angle she can find but her troubles are catching up with her and new ones are born out of her ineptitude. She crosses the line often, but it is when she meets Jack that she is in over her head.

Alex is morally repulsive, the sort who has used up all her chances with friends (if she can even consider them friends) and will still come back begging for more. It’s nothing for her to root through your things and take what she desires, your partner, your family, your car, your money… If only she would take that passion and talent she has for scheming and channel it into growing up, because let’s face it, her youth won’t last forever. Most people know an Alex or two, I imagine. A solid read.

Published May 16, 2023

Random House
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This book is at the exact intersection of literary intrigue and beach thriller, a tense, propulsive read that I finished in under 24 hours. It reminded me of watching "Uncut Gems"—that kind of teetering anxiety watching a character make bad decision after bad decision and barely getting away with it. It follows Alex, a woman in her early 20s who leaves a wake of burned bridges behind her wherever she goes. She scams her way into the rarefied world of the Hamptons and then, after her host/boyfriend kicks her out, scrambles to avoid a vengeful scam victim and find enough sustenance and shelter to stay in the Hamptons until she can return to her ex's Labor Day bash. I enjoyed it tremendously, even if I think Cline didn't quite stick the landing.
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In "The Guest" by Emma Cline, the end of summer on Long Island sees Alex rejected and adrift. With her ability to sense others' desires, she navigates a world of privilege, exposing its shallowness. The sharp, observant narration reflects society's judgment of her, while the characters she encounters mirror their own superficiality.

Cline's writing is compelling and immersive, leaving readers yearning for a concrete resolution. While a less vague ending would have been preferred, this yearning is a testament to the captivating character development and storytelling. "The Guest" is a thought-provoking exploration of privilege and prejudice, inviting readers to reflect on their own biases.
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I love the way Emma Cline writes her characters - they are all so palpable, by the end it feels like I personally know them.  That is a unique talent, and makes the book incredibly rich and wonderful to read.
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WHAT a ride this was.  We first meet 22-year-old Alex, who has contentedly settled into the Hamptons for the summer with her newest companion, the 50-something Simon.  We quickly learn this is perhaps not so much a May-December romance, than the latest in a long string of convenient arrangements for Alex, who has grifted her way through a long line of men.  She has just recently completed headshots for an ad for "services," giving us a brief glimpse into her lifestyle, and why she cannot bring herself to change her number, despite her latest mark Dom aggressively trying to track her down.  

After a couple of minor transgressions, Simon coldly dispatches Alex back to the city, dangling the possibility of allowing her back in a few days.  With Dom looming in the city, Alex stays in the Hamptons, hanging her hopes on reuniting with Simon for his annual Labor Day bash, and proceeds to get through each day conning her way through each day on the kindness of strangers.  

This book will not be for everyone.  Alex is a character of questionable morality at best, arguably an anti-heroine.  However, I absolutely devoured it, gripped by Alex's creative and improvisational survivalism at every turn - how far will she go, will she make it to Labor Day., and just what made her this way...  
In short, 5 stars.  Probably will land on my top reads of the year.  

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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If you read Emma Cline's debut, The Girls you will be equally engrossed by her follow-up novel, The Guest.
Alex, the book's main character, is a literal hot mess and sabotages herself and every opportunity she is given at every turn. After screwing up a potential relationship with a well-to-do older man, Alex is left with nowhere to go and prowling the beaches and millionaire homes of Long Island looking for someone to squeeze for either money, food or shelter until her offended lover forgives her faux pas.
The way Cline writes the story and the characters is so unique that you end up rooting for Alex even if you can't sympathize or understand her.
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I finally had a chance to dive into this book and I really liked it. 
Told from a third person point of view, who is also a hot mess, we go on a journey of exploring "love" and relationships from her perspective. She accompanies Simon on a summer trip to the Hamptons and he gets tired of her. What happens next? Chaos. 
There was a lot of tension throughout this novel, and I love the writing style. The ending was the only thing that did not work for me. 
Thankful for the ARC
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Thanks for the review copy. The writing is great but I couldn’t empathize with Alex. I’m sure others will enjoy it more than I did.
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The Guest was a great, quick read. Alex has been spending the summer on Long Island with a much older man, Simon, until she is promptly asked to leave. The Guest follows Alex over the course of the week as she tries to find places to stay, with her bad behavior seeming to always catch up to her. The Guest was so well written and a really engrossing read. It will have a long holds list, I'm sure, but once it quiets down it will be a great title for book club and definitely will be displayed.
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<i>Alex was missing the mark so often, lately. Everything was jarred from its proper place, or maybe the problem was Alex. Maybe she should cool it with the pills. Even as she told herself she would try to be better, she was aware that she would not.</i>

Alex's life is a mess. She started out as an escort after leaving home and had done well in choosing her clients. But she's having a hard time not messing up and after she takes money and drugs from the apartment of a man she was involved with, he's angrier than she'd anticipated. And neither the money nor the drugs lasted as long as she'd expected. She's thrown a lifeline when another man offers to let her stay with him at his beach house in the Hamptons. Of course he doesn't know the trouble she's in, nor that she's also now homeless after failing to pay her share of the rent. Alex does try, she does know how to behave as a wealthy man's sidepiece, but she doesn't seem to be able to stop messing up, in ways both big and small. And with one man looking for revenge and another becoming rapidly disillusioned with her, her options are limited. 

Dealing as it does with a woman intent on destroying her own life, this book is right up my alley. I think my attraction to this kind of novel stems from the agency it gives the main character. Sure, her life is going downhill fast, but she's the one who is causing the downward spiral. Alex has a lot going for her; she's smart and attractive enough and she knows how to behave among the wealthy. She's also self-destructive to an alarming degree, prone to actions that she knows will alienate the few people still willing to give her a hand, a group disappearing at a rapid pace. Cline knows how to bring a scene to life and Alex is a wonderful character to follow around, as she fails to rein herself in. Alex is not a likable character, but she is a compelling one and Cline paces this novel well, as she walks Alex towards a reckoning of sorts.
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The perfect summer read! You'll be transported to Long Island, you'll be stressed out, and you won't be able to put this down. Cline's prose is sublime as always—and she wonderfully deconstructs this world of wealth and privilege.
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I love Emma Cline - for me she is on par with Emma Straub. The Emma’s are amazing, what can I say. This is the story of 20-something Alex, drifting and alone on Long Island after scamming one man after another. Alex is an incredibly well-written character. She's so young, and dumb, and useless, but honest and raw and so clearly in need of the right person to love her. The Guest is a beautiful character study, and a deft commentary on the lives of the rich in as they summer in The Hamptons or Nantucket or wherever else they can isolate from the bleak reality of American life. 

Highly recommend!
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The Guest by Emma Cline is a propulsive, engaging read that expands the typical definition of 'page-turner'. Written in the third person, the reader is dropped into Alex's life and story and you're never clear where the story will go next. Alex is not necessarily a likeable narrator, but her unique voice completely immerses the story in her story and history. This is a truly unique and innovative read. Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the ARC.
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I couldn’t put this book down, but I’m also so annoyed by it. I usually love the whole « unhinged woman » vibe, but I just can’t with Alex. She’s terrible without a single redeeming quality.

When I realized I was on the final 30 pages of the book I thought there had to be a mistake. I was hoping I would be pleasantly surprised with some kind of satisfying ending, but NOPE. That felt like the author didn’t know how to wrap her story up and just wanted to be done with it.

All in all, the actual reading experience was engaging and I found myself wanting to continue reading to find out what happens next. It’s too bad that everything I was anxiously reading to find out about never actually got tied up! Idk maybe you’ll like that kind of thing though.

Thank you to Emma Cline and Random House for the e-arc in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Thank you so much to Netgalley  and Random House for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

DNF @ 41%

I have been trying to finish this book for the better part of 6 months. As someone who reads about 200 books a year I can usually push myself through them even if they aren't necessarily my favorite. I loved Emma's debut novel 'The Girls' so I thought The Guest would be at the very least- a liked book. But after trying and trying to get myself to read this book I have to admit defeat. I don't find the character interesting or likable in any way so I find myself not really caring where she ends up. I even rented the audiobook so I could finish it and I didn't even want someone else to read it to me. I try to find at least one good thing in a book that I don't like and for this one it is that the writing is technically proficient. I think Emma Cline has skill but just has a very small niche for who would find this book entertaining even if they don't like the MMF.
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A delusional and cringey novel in a good way! Perfect summer read filled with tension and setting, it’s like you were aimlessly walking along with Alex trying to help her with her next move but at the same time wanting her to fail because she was such a manipulative person.
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