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review The Guest Book

The Guest Book

An unforgettable love story a novel about past mistakes and betrayals that ripple throughout generations The Guest Book examines not just a privileged American family but a privileged America It is a literary triumph The Guest Book follows three generations of a powerful American family a family that “used to run the world”And when the novel begins in 1935 they still do Kitty and Ogden Milton appear to have everything perfect children good looks a love everyone envies But after a tragedy befalls them Ogden tries to bring Kitty back to life by purchasing an island in Maine T. 4 starsA family saga spanning three generations a story complicated by secrets that take decades to be revealed A privileged family with money a father so conscious of the family status reflected in the symbol of the island off the coast of Maine that he just has to buy it I want this place he said uietly I want this house to be ours And everyone sailing by would know it stood for us It would mean something They d see it and think there s the Milton place Kitty and Ogden Milton The Milton s of Crockett s Island The mother s belief that they are somehow better know better and are above anything even prejudice But it s a self delusion really as they harbor deep seated bias and prejudice that they don t show outwardly But Kitty s son Moss knows things need to change Why are we here How did we get here To this point in time The situation with the Negroes Dad was talking as if it didn t matter what the television show was called just that the blacks were sounding offBut why are they sounding off It s the why that has us here The show was called The Hate That Hate Produced Len Levy the young Jewish man who works for Ogden and falls in love with his daughter knows It was a game wasn t it after all Come and visit if you re up there anyway come and see us You went to Columbia you went to Wall Street but you were a visitor How could he have missed it He was a guest The Milton s though are not above everything so no amount of their money or status could make them immune to tragedy to unhappiness for some of them and there are some heartbreaking moments This started out a little slow for me but then I found that I was so pulled in by wanting to know all of the things that had happened to get to the present day where the grandchildren of Ogden and Kitty Milton are in disagreement over what to do with the island I was pulled in by the writing as I was in a previous novel by Blake The Postmistress There was one chapter Chapter Twelve that depicts the house and the island and the family over the years so beautifully that I found myself highlighting long passagesThe alternating narrative focus on the family in the mid 1930 s late 1950 s and then late 1990 s and reflect how the ideals of the family change as well as being a commentary on racism antisemitism class It is all of those things but it is also a story of family and it a story of love stories It s a fairly lengthy book at almost 450 pages but once I got the rhythm of the chapters which are not chronological I couldn t stop reading the story of the Milton s of Crockett s IslandI received an advanced copy of this book from Flatiron Books though NetGalley WeVe Only Just Begun is a literary triumph The Guest Book follows three generations of a powerful American family a family that “used to run the world”And when the novel begins Real Estate Mistakes in 1935 they still do Kitty and Ogden Milton appear to have everything perfect children good looks a love everyone envies But after a tragedy befalls them Ogden tries to bring Kitty back to life by purchasing an Computer Network Time Synchronization island Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Maine T. 4 starsA family saga spanning three generations a story complicated by secrets that take decades to be revealed A privileged family with money a father so conscious of the family status reflected Ignition in the symbol of the Mitologii subiective island off the coast of Maine that he just has to buy Between Heaven and Mirth it I want this place he said uietly I want this house to be ours And everyone sailing by would know Biogenealogy it stood for us It would mean something They d see Sobre el anarquismo (Biblioteca de Divulgación Anarquista it and think there s the Milton place Kitty and Ogden Milton The Milton s of Crockett s Island The mother s belief that they are somehow better know better and are above anything even prejudice But ABOUT ANARCHISM it s a self delusion really as they harbor deep seated bias and prejudice that they don t show outwardly But Kitty s son Moss knows things need to change Why are we here How did we get here To this point Absolute Trust (Renegade, if La isla de la calavera it didn t matter what the television show was called just that the blacks were sounding offBut why are they sounding off It s the why that has us here The show was called The Hate That Hate Produced Len Levy the young Jewish man who works for Ogden and falls Paleontology and Paleoenvironments in love with his daughter knows It was a game wasn t The Mammoth Book of Scottish Romance if you re up there anyway come and see us You went to Columbia you went to Wall Street but you were a visitor How could he have missed Prayer For Little Things it He was a guest The Milton s though are not above everything so no amount of their money or status could make them A Treatise on Time and Space immune to tragedy to unhappiness for some of them and there are some heartbreaking moments This started out a little slow for me but then I found that I was so pulled The White Lantern in by wanting to know all of the things that had happened to get to the present day where the grandchildren of Ogden and Kitty Milton are Kingsbane (Empirium, in disagreement over what to do with the Learning To Dance island I was pulled ¡Dilly-ding, dilly-dong!: Leicester City, el triunfo más improbable de la historia del fútbol inglés in a previous novel by Blake The Postmistress There was one chapter Chapter Twelve that depicts the house and the La locura de saltar contigo island and the family over the years so beautifully that I found myself highlighting long passagesThe alternating narrative focus on the family The Five Chinese Brothers in the mid 1930 s late 1950 s and then late 1990 s and reflect how the The Future Aint What It Used to Be ideals of the family change as well as being a commentary on racism antisemitism class It Roomies is all of those things but Adventures of Superman Vol. 3 it Virgin Wanted is also a story of family and

Read Ò eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB Ç Sarah Blake

Hat island and its house come to define and burnish the Milton family year after year after year And it is there that Kitty issues a refusal that will haunt her till the day she diesIn 1959 a young Jewish man Len Levy will get a job in Ogden’s bank and earn the admiration of Ogden and one of his daughters but the scorn of everyone else Len’s best friend Reg Pauling has always been the only black man in the room at Harvard at work and finally at the Miltons’ island in MaineAn island that at the dawn of the 21st century this last generation doesn’t have the money to keep. Lovely writing a historical family drama featuring generations of characters a focus on important social themes related race and privilege Slow and a bit lengthy for my personal preference but I can see many readers enjoying this overallThank you to Flatiron Books for generously mailing me an advance readers edition of Sarah Blake s The Guest Book In exchange I agreed to share my honest thoughts on goodreads and my other favorite social media sites readtheguestbook No Limits (No existen Límites cuando se cree en uno mismo) island and Captain Wentworths Persuasion its house come to define and burnish the Milton family year after year after year And Canu Cynnar it La bondad de los extraños is there that Kitty Willy the Wizard issues a refusal that will haunt her till the day she diesIn 1959 a young Jewish man Len Levy will get a job Off-side in Ogden’s bank and earn the admiration of Ogden and one of his daughters but the scorn of everyone else Len’s best friend Reg Pauling has always been the only black man Enséñame más island Wonder (The Books of Marvella, in MaineAn Chicago Billionaires - Contemporary Romance Series Boxed Set island that at the dawn of the 21st century this last generation doesn’t have the money to keep. Lovely writing a historical family drama featuring generations of characters a focus on The Valhalla Prophecy (Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase important social themes related race and privilege Slow and a bit lengthy for my personal preference but I can see many readers enjoying this overallThank you to Flatiron Books for generously mailing me an advance readers edition of Sarah Blake s The Guest Book In exchange I agreed to share my honest thoughts on goodreads and my other favorite social media sites readtheguestbook

Sarah Blake Ç 7 review

When Kitty’s granddaughter hears that she and her cousins might be forced to sell it and when her husband brings back disturbing evidence about her grandfather’s past she realizes she is on the verge of finally understanding the silences that seemed to hover just below the surface of her family all her lifeAn ambitious novel that weaves the American past with its present The Guest Book looks at the racism and power that has been systemically embedded in the US for generations Brimming with gorgeous writing and bitterly accurate social criticism it is a literary tour de forc. This is a novel about white guilt and it does so many things right and cares about so many of the right things that I almost but not uite am willing to love it The blot upon its freshly starched canvas is of such a nature however that it does than just prevent me from loving the book it renders it in its entirety so deeply problematic that I m not entirely sure how to feel about it at allLet s begin at the beginning shall we Please note that there will be some low key spoilers throughout this reviewThe front cover of The Guest Book ARC which I so kindly thank you thank you so very much received from Flatiron Books features a uote from Cynthia St John of Kepler s Books in Menlo Park California This uote writ large and sleek across the ARC cover states simply that Sarah Blake has written the Great American Novel I m assuming the implicit capitalization here the actual uote happens to be printed in all caps Inside the front cover and for four pages after the title page other booksellers and literary notables rave about the book saying such kind things as it is a coming of age story for the country packed with fully realized characters and depth and nuance an epic family story of privilege history prejudice secrets love and loss I mean could you be ANY MORE in love with this book peopleAs I mentioned this is a book that tries very hard indeed to care about the right things and write about them the in right way It s a book about several generations of a privileged white family which owns its own island For comparison my parents were each raised in a farmhouse and my mother s childhood home got an upgrade to a non dirt floor during her childhood We were in short ROLLING IN IT You might assume that I have very little patience with rich white peoples problems and you d be right Poor white people especially the children of evangelical Christian missionaries and the grandchildren of Mennonite wheat farmers and the great grandchildren of immigrants have plenty of their own hang ups and plenty of their own privileges frankly but they re nothing alike And it s hard to relate to people who try to pass off their islands as being rather shabby by comparison to the Rockefellers mansionsAnd this tension between having an island and wanting to keep it and having a shred of self awareness and wanting to not be thought of as just another privileged white woman is the root core of every interaction the character Evie has in this book Yes Blake makes her characters aware of their privilege The POV characters all hate or at the very least are all deeply uncomfortable with their privilege GOOD EXCELLENT I can get behind that Still hard to relate but at least they re not literal NazisOh waitSo Here s a spoiler The Guest Book deals not just with matters of wealth ineuality but also with racial ineualities and the mistreatment of minorities during WWII In Germany Read here be Nazis Blake again very admirably makes her characters implicit in various ways in the mistreatment of both Jews and people of color She makes them aware of their involvement She makes them uncomfortable with their involvementGreat People whose families poured financial support into the German war machine during WWII should have MANY crises of conscience That s definitely a thing that should happenWhat maybe shouldn t happen is letting those characters reach absolution through self erasure and have Jews and people of color absolve them again in the book s touching final scenesLet me back up here a secondIt is the rare book which spurs me to write a scathing review and I don t know if this is so much scathing as it is confused and a little cloudy on the details I slept on this review several times This is therefore the most mild calm and generous take on this novel that I could summon My first reactions by comparison were much full of feeling I think that sort of response is a valid one to chronicle but this being such a considered book I felt it deserved a considered replyI distrust any book by a white person which absolves us collectively or individually of the wrongdoings of our predecessors Do I think Blake was trying to show that she cared enough to write several minority groups into her book and that her heart was in the right place Probably But there are some things we don t get to do and forgive ourselves or erase ourselves from history are two of them It is so perfectly accurate that the privileged white person s greatest fear is not being remembered and that both our greatest crises and our greatest denouements are all tied up with being forgotten We ve started wars many of them against minority groups for less It is accurate yes And it is brilliant of Blake to identify this fear and lace it like poison throughout this novel It is less brilliant to allow her characters to erase themselves and to find catharsis and maybe even peace in the processWe don t get to do thatWhy not Because we are the historical record We don t get to walk away from the crimes we have enacted For not just decades but centuries millennia of cultural and racial and religious warfare We can t give ourselves permission to disappear before the final verdict has been handed down by the people who do have the right and I strongly suspect that the only people who have the right to forgive us and absolve us also have the right to be angry for many many generations to comeThis week I had an epiphany Not just to do with Blake but to do with many of the investigative nonfiction books coming out right now It s a popular idea that we have the right to tell stories about the cultural wrongdoings we have enacted throughout history by using our personal experiences and by putting our bodies and our stories into cultural and religious and ueer spaces that do not belong to us There are some stories however that we just don t have the right to tell And as every two year old toddler knows we don t get to forgive ourselves Only the people we have wronged have permission to do that And if by chance we ve wronged the world itself we never get to make our peace people have long memories but Uranium 235 has a half life of almost 704 billion years The carbon cycle will hold your footprint against you for longer than the dinosaurs walked this planetEarly on in The Guest Book Evie is confronted by an African American colleague whose pregnancy is described as having taken over her body like an occupying army p 62 And while it s entirely true that many women lose both a sense of agency and satisfaction with their bodies during pregnancy it s hardly a nice thing to observe about someone else s body especially when that someone else comes from a minority group specifically and historically linked to the loss of agency due to white assholery This colleague comes to Evie because she wants to revise a popular work of third wave feminism that Evie published twenty five years earlier to reflect her own take on the power dynamics at work in Medieval Europe Not only is this colleague portrayed as pushy and insensitive but she s Evie likens Hazel s desire to pay homage to thievery p 67 even while she Evie agonizes over her own privilege Because her family owns an island that they purchased with Nazi moneyThe book never returns to Hazel or to the classroom where Evie begins her story by delivering a kick ass rallying cry to her freshmen on the value of learning from history So know yourselves first she finished Then look back and account p 44 Only Evie doesn t One black man gives her back agency over the island then she decides her story ends with vanishing not looking back and being called to account or making up for her personal wrongs It s cathartic It s peaceful It s a goddamn lieLook there are a lot of really beautiful moments and beautiful sentences in this book I teared up a little when the book finally finally got around to the climactic final showdown Which predictably involved a lot of hetero sex on beaches under the moonlight and a lot of coded ueer erasure Bury your maybe gays unless you live by water drowning them is easier Damn but Blake knows how to uote James Baldwin And whenI guess what I m trying to say here is that Blake really tried She has proven that she cares about making sure readers know we white people are sorry We re sorry for screwing up in WWII We re sorry for screwing up in founding America on the backs of minorities We re sorry that systems like academia and finance left us private islands even if they re only shabby and we re just barely hanging on and left everyone else scrambling for room in the margins We re sorry and probably we should just go ahead and disappear now That would be so much easier than actually sticking around in real life or in the novel to let the wronged be rightfully angry at us Beautiful sentences and well intentioned gestures at euality aside this book lets us off the hook when it really doesn t have the right to And as much as I respect California s incredible booksellers we don t get to call this book about white guilt the Great American Novel It s unfair to all of those hungry OwnVoices authors whose voices still haven t been heard simply because they don t have the all access pass to blockbuster American success yetThe least we can do is not use our power as the privileged majority class in America to erase ourselves before we can be held to accountWhere does this book end We vanish Evie whispered p 480 How convenient for us Please note throughout this review I kept typing The Beach House instead of The Guest Book but I guess Hallmark owned the rights to that one And I also kept typing The Lake House and I m crippled by the thought of Keanu Reeves showing up in this book Please also note hells yes I have white guilt The fact that only other white people keep telling me to stop kind of reinforces it and it s just too damn bad that none of my uncles had maybe sort of ueer relationships with people who could half a century after I was conceived show up to give me another 15 share of the family island and thereby forgive me in deed if not in word for all the crimes of my ancestors And oof if you want to talk about crimes I don t get to be absolved for maybe we should take a moment to review the literature about all the times my predecessors contributed to cultural genocide Yeah I don t get to forgive myself for that ever


10 thoughts on “The Guest Book

  1. says:

    The Guest Book by Sarah Blake is a 2019 Flatiron Books publication An Epic multi generational family saga exposing long buried secrets and truths not only providing a mirrored reflection of the privileged Milton’s but of the entire country as well “There is the crime and there is silence”In the mid thirties golden couple Ogden and Kitty Milton recovering from a horrific tragedy purchase Crockett Island m

  2. says:

    ”She knew silence often flew in between families and roosted Slow inexplicable angers grew without roots Nothin

  3. says:

    4 starsA family saga spanning three generations a story complicated by secrets that take decades to be revealed A privileged family with money a father so conscious of the family status reflected in the symbol of the island off the coast of Maine that he just has to buy it “I want this place” he said uietly “I want this house to be our

  4. says:

    Lovely writing a historical family drama featuring generations of characters a focus on important social themes related race and privilege Slow and a bit lengthy for my personal preference but I can see many readers enjoying this overallThank you to Flatiron Books for generously mailing me an advance readers' edition of Sarah Blake's The Guest Book In exchange I agreed to share my honest thoughts on goodreads

  5. says:

    There’s a stunning scene toward the beginning of Sarah Blake’s new novel “The Guest Book” that follows a wealthy young mother gliding a

  6. says:

    Privilege Secrets History FamilyThe Guest Book is a sweeping tale of three generations of the Milton family This book moves back and f

  7. says:

    This is a novel about white guilt and it does so many things right and cares about so many of the right things that I almost—but not uite—am willing to love it The blot upon its freshly starched canvas is of such a natur

  8. says:

    Not rating itBut also not going to finish it It’s rare for me to mention a book I’ve not finished a few times some books I read and don’t even mark let alone review because it was OK or I just didn’t feel like writing anything—or th

  9. says:

    I really wanted to like this book given the high praise it received but I just couldn’t First the plot is so lo

  10. says:

    “‘Do you remember that day right before she died when Granny K told us there were two moments at the gate in every life?’Evie nodded ‘One at the beginning’‘And one in the middle’ It had been her last summer They had filled the golf cart with pillows from the Katherine and driven her up to the house carrying her thro

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