The Guest by Emma Cline - review by Jay Gilbert

Jay Gilbert

Secret Diary of a Call Girl

The Guest


Chatto & Windus 304pp £18.99

Emma Cline’s 2016 debut, The Girls, was a near-immediate bestseller, lauded for its trancelike, atmospheric prose detailing the grisly undertakings of a cult of teenage girls. The Guest, Cline’s first full-length novel since The Girls, exhibits many of the same features. Cline creates a soft-edged, suffocating universe in which she entraps the reader, offering by turns a sharp-eyed focus on inconsequential details and a sort of wilful vagueness that leave us as unmoored as the lost souls in her novel. Cline is preoccupied with young women and the intensity of their feelings, their capacity to minimise the monumental and elevate the irrelevant. In The Guest, we accompany Cline’s protagonist, Alex, through a September week on Long Island which is, for her, both typical and life-altering, during which she uses and abuses long-honed skills to get by, but also recognises, perhaps for the first time, that she cannot do this forever.

Alex is twenty-two and is an escort who has gradually made herself unwelcome in most of New York City’s upscale restaurants, while also arousing the anger of the mysterious Dom by stealing from and then deserting him. Beyond these few facts, there is little about Alex that can

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