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The Guest Book: A Novel (Hardcover)
A private island off the coast of Maine sounds idyllic until you realize it was bought with money from Nazi industrialists. The Milton family is dark, and three generations of the family are full of secrets, many from each other. Some are in denial that their family members were bystanders, at best, and perpetrators, at worst. Their partners, business and personal, attempt to love them as the reader does. Beautifully written, taut yet woven together like fine lace, The Guest Book is a must read for the summer of 2019.— From Elyse's Picks
“Breathtaking…Blake saturates each scene with sensuous and emotional vibrancy while astutely illuminating sensitive moral quandaries. Blake deftly interrogates the many shades of prejudice and ‘the ordinary, everyday wickedness of turning away.’ Blake’s brilliant and ravishing novel promises to hit big.” —Booklist (starred review)
The thought-provoking new novel by New York Times bestselling author Sarah Blake
A lifetime of secrets. A history untold.
No. It is a simple word, uttered on a summer porch in 1936. And it will haunt Kitty Milton for the rest of her life. Kitty and her husband, Ogden, are both from families considered the backbone of the country. But this refusal will come to be Kitty’s defining moment, and its consequences will ripple through the Milton family for generations. For while they summer on their island in Maine, anchored as they are to the way things have always been, the winds of change are beginning to stir.
In 1959 New York City, two strangers enter the Miltons’ circle. One captures the attention of Kitty’s daughter, while the other makes each of them question what the family stands for. This new generation insists the times are changing. And in one night, everything does.
So much so that in the present day, the third generation of Miltons doesn’t have enough money to keep the island in Maine. Evie Milton’s mother has just died, and as Evie digs into her mother’s and grandparents’ history, what she finds is a story as unsettling as it is inescapable, the story that threatens the foundation of the Milton family myth.
Moving through three generations and back and forth in time, The Guest Book asks how we remember and what we choose to forget. It shows the untold secrets we inherit and pass on, unknowingly echoing our parents and grandparents. Sarah Blake’s triumphant novel tells the story of a family and a country that buries its past in quiet, until the present calls forth a reckoning.
About the Author
Sarah Blake is the author of the novels Grange House and the New York Times bestseller The Postmistress. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two sons.
Bookish: Spring’s Must-Read Fiction
“Sarah Blake is such a beautiful writer she can make any world shimmer, but The Guest Book is particularly fascinating—an intergenerational exploration of memory, identity, love, and family loyalty, of what it costs to inherit a name, a place, and a difficult alignment with history. Powerful and provocative storytelling.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife and Love and Ruin
“I loved The Guest Book. Sarah Blake has managed the extraordinary feat of writing both an intimate family saga and an ambitious excavation of the subterranean currents of race, class, and power that have shaped America. This is a vivid, transporting novel, written by a master conjuror of time and place.” —Jessica Shattuck, New York Times bestselling author of The Women in the Castle
“Sarah Blake’s powerful, beautifully written story portrays a couple's secret choices that come to haunt succeeding generations. The Guest Book is richly atmospheric and morally compelling in a way that stirs the mind long after the last page.” —Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank and Under the Wide and Starry Sky
“Epic and sweeping, without ever leaving behind the personal and profound, The Guest Book is a reminder of what novels do better than anything else. Without losing their specificity, three generations of Milton women reveal something about every family, the secrets and unspoken truths that color everything that happens to us. This is a book you will be dying to talk to someone about.” —Arthur Phillips, author of The Tragedy of Arthur and Prague
“Spanning three generations of Miltons, The Guest Book deserves a spot on your summer TBR in 2019.” —Bustle
“The story of the Miltons engages not just with history and politics, but with the poetry of the physical world. This novel sets out to be more than a juicy family saga—it aims to depict the moral evolution of a part of American society. Its convincing characters and muscular narrative succeed on both counts.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“This powerful family saga…is potent and mesmerizing.” —Publishers Weekly
Praise for Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress
“Great books give you a feeling that you miss all day until you finally get to crawl back inside those pages again. The Postmistress is one of those rare books. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it.” —Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help
“Some novels we savor for their lapidary prose, others for their flesh and blood characters, and still others for a sweeping narrative arc that leaves us light-headed and changed; Sarah Blake’s masterful The Postmistress serves us all this and more.” —Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog
“Even readers who don’t think they like historical novels will love this one and talk it up to their friends. Highly recommended for all fans of beautifully wrought fiction.” —Library Journal, starred review
“Blake captures two different worlds…with a deft sense of character and plot, and a perfect willingness to take on big, complex questions.” —Publishers Weekly
“To open Blake’s novel… is to enter a slipstream, so powerful are its velocity, characters, and drama.” —ALA Booklist, starred review
“The Postmistress belongs in what Gellhorn called ‘the permanent and necessary’ library.” —Howard Norman, author of The Bird Artist and Devotion
“Hits hard and pushes buttons expertly…Ms. Blake writes powerfully about the fragility of life….” —The New York Times