First U.S. edition.
Publisher, Date:
New York : Flatiron Books, 2019.
486 pages ; 25 cm
"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. That 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 dies. In 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 Maine. An island that, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, this last generation doesn't have the money to keep. 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 life. An ambitious novel that weaves the American past with its present, Sarah Blake's The Guest Book looks at the racism and power that has been systemically embedded in the U.S. for generations" -- Provided by publisher.
9781250110251 (hardcover)
System Availability:
Current Holds:
Control Number:
Call Number:
F Bla
Course Reserves:
# System items in:
Author Notes
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.
Fiction/Biography Profile
Kitty Milton (Female), Married, Mother, Wealthy, Socialite, Wife of Ogden; mother of three children, Neddy, Moss, and Joan
Ogden Milton (Male), Married, Father, Wealthy, Husband of Kitty; buys island of the coast of Maine
Family histories
Wealthy lifestyles
Family tragedy
Family secrets
New York - Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.)
Maine - New England (U.S.)
Time Period
1935-2000s -- 20th-21st century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

This epic historical tale follows the lives of three generations of New England's wealthy Milton family from the 1930s through the present. However, the novel encompasses much more than the history of one family, as Blake (The Postmistress) also recounts some of America's own growing pains during this period. Delving into politics, race, and the question of what makes a person essentially good, the plot is extremely thought provoking, and the characters make it absorbing. From family patriarch Ogden, purchaser of the island property where the titular guest book is housed, to his children, grandchildren, and friends, all the characters are well rounded and add to the story. VERDICT Blake's well-written sophomore novel will interest her fans. Those who enjoyed Jessica Shattuck's The Women in the Castle, as well as fans of traditional historical fiction, such as Herman Wouk's The Winds of War, will enjoy. [See Prepub Alert, 11/19/18.]-Elizabeth McArthur, Bexar Cty. Digital Lib., -BiblioTech, San Antonio © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Blake (The Postmistress) tells the history of the privileged Milton family from 1935 to present day in this powerful family saga. In 1935 New York, Kitty Milton, wife of Ogden, is enjoying the life of a New York society wife with her three children-five-year-old Neddy, three-year-old Moss, and one-year-old Joan-when Neddy dies in an accident. To help his wife heal, Ogden buys Crockett's Island off the coast of Maine, and through the decades, the island becomes the Miltons' summer refuge. In 1959, Moss is working in his father's investment bank and invites his Jewish friend Len Levy, a fellow employee at the firm, and Reg Pauling, a black man and friend of Moss and Len, to visit the island. Len and Joan have been secretly dating, but Len isn't certain if Joan will acknowledge their relationship in front of her family. The tensions of Len and Reg's visit result in an argument that brings family secrets to light and ends in drama that will haunt those present for years to come. And in the present-day, as Milton family members must decide what to do with their island inheritance, they discover some answers to their family's past. Blake has a particular knack for dialogue; she knows exactly how to reveal the hidden depths of the characters both through what is said and what is unsaid. The result is potent and mesmerizing. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

  Booklist Review

One of those families who used to run the world... WASPs. That's how a man describes the Miltons as he admires the grand wreck of their Maine island estate in a brief, shivery foreshadowing. Blake's breathtaking saga then begins in full with a lush, sweeping overture, though it carries its own kind of chilling undertow. Think Gershwin, Copeland, Ellington. It's 1935, spring has suddenly turned Manhattan verdant and promising, and Kitty Milton, 30 and privileged, can't help but quietly revel in her splendid good fortune. Blake sets out the silver of Kitty and her husband's blue-blood pedigrees and Ogden's accomplishments running the family bank. But intercut with Kitty's satisfaction with her perfectly ordered life are scenes of shocking loss and Ogden's business deals in Germany, which lay the foundation for long-concealed family traumas. As in her best-selling The Postmistress (2010), Blake saturates each scene with sensuous and emotional vibrancy while astutely illuminating sensitive moral quandaries. Tacking between the present, in which Kitty and Ogden's grandchildren may not be able to hold onto the Island, which defines their legacy, and the fateful summer of 1959, when the Milton kingdom is infiltrated, thanks to the younger generation, by two inquisitive men, one Jewish, the other African American, Blake deftly interrogates the many shades of prejudice and the ordinary, everyday wickedness of turning away. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Blake's brilliant and ravishing novel promises to hit big, inspiring extensive publicity.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2019 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

An island off the coast of Maine: Let's buy it, dear."Handsome, tanned, Kitty and Ogden Milton stood ramrod straight and smiling into the camera on the afternoon in 1936 when they had chartered a sloop, sailed out into Penobscot Bay, and bought Crockett's Island." This photo is clipped to a clothesline in the office of professor Evie Milton in the history department at NYU; she found it while cleaning out her mother's apartment after her death. "Since the afternoon in the photograph, four generations of her family had eaten round the table on Crockett's Island, clinked the same glasses, fallen between the same sheets, and heard the foghorn night after night." Evie jokes with an African-American colleague that the photograph represents "the Twilight of the WASPs," then finds herself snappishly defending them. Blake's (The Postmistress, 2010, etc.) third novel studies the unfolding of several storylines over the generations of this family: deaths and losses shrouded in secrecy, terrible errors in judgment, thwarted lovemuch of it related to or caused by the family's attitudes toward blacks and Jews. While patriarch Ogden Milton presided unflinchingly over his firm's involvement with the Nazis, his granddaughter Evie Milton is married to a Jewish manwho, like any person of his background who has visited Crockett's Island, complains that there's not a comfortable chair in the place. Kitty Milton, the matriarch, twisted by social mores into repressing her tragedies and ignoring her conscience, is a fascinating character, appealing in some ways, pitiable and repugnant in others. Through Kitty and her daughters, Blake renders the details of anti-Semitic prejudice as felt by this particular type of person. Reminiscent of the novels of Julia Glass, the story of the Miltons engages not just with history and politics, but with the poetry of the physical world. "The year wheeled round on its colors. Summer's full green spun to gold then slipping gray and resting, resting white at the bottom of the year...then one day the green whisper, the lightest green, soft and growing into the next day...suddenly, impossibly, it was spring again."This novel sets out to be more than a juicy family sagait aims to depict the moral evolution of a part of American society. Its convincing characters and muscular narrative succeed on both counts. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
<p> Instant New York Times Bestseller </p> <p>" The Guest Book is monumental in a way that few novels dare attempt." -- The Washington Post </p> <p> The thought-provoking new novel by New York Times bestselling author Sarah Blake <br> <br> A lifetime of secrets. A history untold. </p> <p> 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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>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.</p>
Librarian's View

Add to My List