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Extended Audio Sample An Unexpected Guest: A Novel Audiobook, by Anne Korkeakivi Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (641 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Anne Korkeakivi Narrator: Ellen Archer Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2012 ISBN: 9781611132243
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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.

Like Virginia Woolf did in Mrs. Dalloway, Anne Korkeakivi brilliantly weaves the complexities of an age into an act as deceptively simple as hosting a dinner party. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • Anne Korkeakivi knows her expat life as well as the protocol of diplomacy-from the flowers and trees and markets of Paris to the meetings behind closed doors. Clare is an observant, intelligent woman whose elegant existence includes endless dinner arrangements, to-do lists, and the necessity of irreproachable behavior. Yet she has a secret that seems destined to burst and shatter her comfortable life and that of her family. An Unexpected Guest will draw you in and keep you breathlessly turning pages, even as you admire its intelligence and fine writing. Thomas E. Kennedy, author of In the Company of Angels and Falling Sideways
  • Anne Korkeakivi's writing has all the best qualities of an Ishiguro novel. Clare, a seemingly selfless diplomat's wife, the epitome of restraint and hermetic detachment, unravels before us into a woman of dangerous allegiances, passions, and moral dilemmas, in prose that is both beautiful and razor sharp. Paris is depicted with subtle complexity, a city that reposes as it threatens, full of scorn and grace. Korkeakivi's sense of detail is remarkable while grounded in authenticity. An Unexpected Guest is a feast of a novel. George Hagen, author of The Laments
  • A taut tender suspenseful novel, delicately told. Fernanda Eberstadt, author of Rat and The Furies
  • Anne Korkeakivi writes wonderfully about embassy manners, food, and Paris, and she writes even better about the darker world that threatens to disrupt not just Clare's seating plan for dinner but her entire life. An Unexpected Guest, like its heroine, is a novel of great elegance, enormous surprises, and unexpected depths. Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street
  • An Unexpected Guest is a lovingly detailed account of a day in the life of the wife of a British diplomat in Paris. But what a day! She deals with protocol, place settings and a temperamental cook and at the same time a troubled son, an Irish complication, and a suspected Turkish terrorist. Virginia Woolf meets Eric Ambler - and readers meet a charming heroine who rises to all occasions. John Casey, National Book Award-winning author of Spartina and Compass Rose:
  • Korkeakivi creates a Paris as crisp and unruffled as her heroine--and just as likely to surprise. Elizabeth Bard, author of Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes
  • Deep private tension animates the perfect ambassador's wife as she manages one of the most important days of her husband's career, the complexities of her surprising past converging rapidly upon the present where an entire emotional life is balancing on a delicate, invisible wire. A beautifully written novel about living with our many selves. Nicola Keegan, author of Swimming
  • “[A] promising debut novel, a political thriller inspired by Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway…Korkeakivi shares Woolf’s flair for making everyday rituals (buying flowers, setting the table) seem profound.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “A quietly intelligent novel about a woman who, at long last, learns to be honest with herself.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Captivating…Drawn from the same cloth as Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, the easy narrative flow, smooth pacing, and interesting characters compel this title about genteel intrigue of both politics and the heart.”


  • “This novel is so adeptly performed that in losing oneself in the suspenseful plot, one completely forgets that just a single actor puts forth so many characters. Ellen Archer’s accents, lovely French pronunciation, vocal range, and perceptive expressions distinctively portray Clare, the story’s chronicler…Archer matches the author’s taut wit and luscious imagery moment by moment.”


  • “Moving between the starched-napkin ambience of high-level diplomacy and urgent questions of revolutionary activity, this engaging debut novel gently probes both without forcing insurmountable choices on its characters.”

    Library Journal

  • “Beautifully modulated…Korkeakivi produces a knowing comedy of manners, a politically charged thriller, and genuinely moving study of the human heart.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Camille Turner | 2/6/2014

    " This book is the definition of tedium. It takes place a day in the life of diplomat's wife. The background hints she has a secret, but do we really need to go shopping with her to find out what the secret is? The secret wasn't even that bad. It had the potential to be, but didn't. I found myself thinking, Is this lady this dinghy when it comes to her family? Once again a main character doesn't communicate well with her loved ones. Normally when I read a book, I try to imagine how it would play out on the big screen. I didn't do that this time, because I was bored. I didn't like this woman very much, and the fact that she tamps her personality down for the men in her life grated on my nerves. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Holly | 1/28/2014

    " This is an interesting book written to encompass a single day in the life of the main character, Clare, who is the wife of a British diplomat. It is a lengthy day filled with professional duties, political protocol, and personal tribulations on many levels. Clare is an intriguing character, surely much more interesting than the beige person she identifies herself with. As the day unfolds she must face many complications, some of which are out of her control and some of which she can assert control over. I can't say that this was an amazing book but it was enjoyable to read and created a multi-faceted character who held my interest. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joey | 1/24/2014

    " Not too exciting. The circumstances and consequences of the unexpected guest didn't amount to much. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Coco | 1/23/2014

    " This is a very nice standard novel. The food references will force you to eat something while reading it but it was a short, light novel that told a story about people in a place and time. I finished the book without feeling indifferent. It could've given me more, but I appreciate a story that is told well and that doesn't involve vampires or teenage socialites. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Angela | 1/22/2014

    " Bored by the descriptions of flowers and asparagus! By the time it got good at all, it was over. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 1/19/2014

    " Interesting look at a Day in the Life of a diplomat's wife. Did make me wonder about things which I unnecessarily obsess. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jessica Wirth | 1/14/2014

    " I enjoyed the premise and think that maybe another author could've done more with it. This moved *painfully* slow. I dozed off three times trying to read about every minute detail of Clare's life. Anytime I do a review, especially when a book leaves a little (okay, in this case a lot) to be desired, I encourage anyone wanting to read it to form their own opinion. I hate to be unfair, but always keep my reviews honest. If its on your "to read" list though, I wouldn't promote it to the top - reading Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? to my kids at bedtime tonight was more interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jackie | 1/9/2014

    " Lots of talk for a thin plot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eva | 1/2/2014

    " Extraordary! I couldn't put it down. Korkeakivi transported me into a world I didn't know, the world of diplomacy and political intrigue. In the midst of this lies a marraige and a compelling and dangerous love story. A beautifully written page turner. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Donnetta | 12/30/2013

    " This book goes no where at a snail's pace.The main character gives the impression of control but her inability to understand even the most obvious of bad situations is extraordinary. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Olivia Crisp | 12/10/2013

    " Enjoyable read. Best story line was the accused terrorist one with Claire doing the right thing in the end. Thought the son needed a good spanking. Loved the husband and the fabulous imagery created by the author. Love stories about non Parisians in Paris. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda K K | 12/9/2013

    " Excellent story involving the diplomatic corp in Paris. Gives great insight on how these people live and how someones' prior life and choices could alter their lives later. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Becky | 12/8/2013

    " I'm not a fan of novels with characters who use the "F" word and find it surprising so many editors are okay with it. Even if that word hadn't been used as much, I still wouldn't rate this higher than two stars. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Gabrielle | 11/15/2013

    " Flipped through the last 200 pages. The guest wasn't that unexpected and I'm left wondering what the whole point was. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maria Lobue | 10/24/2013

    " Eh..just ok. This was a bookclub pick. Would not have chosen it otherwise. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 11/26/2012

    " Started off well enough, kind of clutch your tummy worry. But it cleaned up too easily for me. Still, a nice read that made me want to go to Paris. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 8/26/2012

    " Okay--kept me reading but not earth-shaking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia | 5/3/2012

    " "if only people could choose what to forget and remember; how curious that we often remember what we wish to forget and forget what we wish to remember" "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Daphne Manning | 4/29/2012

    " I found it a chore to finish this book. I kept hoping it would get less boring but it did not. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie Rodgers | 4/19/2012

    " This book captured my attention immediately, but as it went on it seemed to never end. The ending was disappointing. "

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About the Author
Author Anne Korkeakivi

Anne Korkeakivi is a writer whose short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications in the United States and Britain, and she is a Hawthornden Fellow.

About the Narrator

Ellen Archer has narrated numerous audiobooks and has won several AudioFile Earphones Awards, as well as the prestigious Audie Award for best narration. She is an actress, and singer with a degree in opera performance from the Boston Conservatory. She has performed extensively on the New York stage and in regional theaters.