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.
Not every book has to be fast-paced in order to be entertaining, however, a slight increase in tempo would have been a welcome addition to An Unexpected Guest. The novel takes place in a single day - a deceivingly short amount of time - and chronicles Clare's preparations for a Parisian dinner party that could launch her diplomat husband's status. Each page is inundated with Clare's mental to-do lists, her thoughts, hopes, fears, interactions, and suspicions - every minute detail of her daily routine plotted meticulously, the pressure mounting with each passing hour. I love detail, especially flourishes of descriptive prose, and Anna Korkeakivi delivers a picturesque play-by-play of events. Unfortunately, by the novel's midpoint, the depictions have become monotonous, dawdling on like a Parisian soap-opera; without adequate action/drama and presenting too many unnecessary details. So much more could have been done with Clare's character, and I plodded on in search of any additional plot-lines that had potential, but the only real surprises were in the last three chapters, (no spoilers). I had never really read much about foreign diplomats before this book, but I like how Edward's job is explained and built upon, and I also enjoyed the view of Paris. Overall, a very interesting novel, but I felt that it lacked depth within the story-line and could have used some humor.
Rating: Bounty's Out (3/5)
*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.