Alex is 22 and at a loose end in her life, part grifter, part working girl, the latter when we meet her at a party with Simon her older man of the moment. Trading on her youth and her good looks Alex is transactional in her every gesture enjoying the respite and ease wealthy older men can afford her.
There is an undercurrent of unease underpinning her actions and mental state, always having to play a part and act a role. These tensions threaten to wrong foot her and she coerces a host's husband to jump into a pool with her against his better judgement. She is dumped for this indiscretion and finds herself drifting once more attaching herself to anyone she can con into putting her up as she spirals into increasingly precarious predicaments.
It is compellingly written and cleverly realized, set in Long Island in the homes of the super wealthy. This wealth both attracts and repels Alex whose aspirations don't compel her ambitions successfully enough to align herself to the life. Alex's brazen, precarious actions highlight the tawdry desperation that drives her, ultimately a lonely creature, prisoner in her own game. Not a charming read, but well done.
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.
PRAISE FOR EMMA CLINE
'Taut, beautiful and savage' GUARDIAN
'So deft, with an undercurrent of unease' PANDORA SYKES
'Stunning . . . thrilling . . . a spectacular achievement' THE TIMES
'Cline's talent at uncovering the seedy and somehow bringing it to beautiful light is brilliant'
'Something about Cline's intimate tone, her talent for conjuring the feeling of being alive, is entirely and uniquely her own' RACHEL KUSHNER
'An astonishingly gifted stylist' BRANDON TAYLOR