The Snakes: A Novel (Hardcover)
"Bea is a psychologist, sympathetic to the underprivileged, and newly married to Dan, an aspiring artist working as a realtor so the two can make ends meet. When they decide to rent their London flat to take a vacation, it isn't long before the vipers invade in the form of Bea's family. The first stop on their trip is to visit Bea's older brother Alex at a decaying hotel that his parents have purchased for him to restore. The hotel has no guests, and there are snakes living in the attic. Dan can't understand Bea's devotion to her emotionally stunted brother, and then the parents arrive. While Dan knew that Bea's family had money, their wealth is more than he can imagine, and the fact that Bea herself eschews that wealth to live on a pittance, confuses and frustrates him. When tragedy strikes, both Dan and Bea struggle with the greed and privilege that can buy your place in society at catastrophic costs. Sadie Jones's terror-stricken novel is a social commentary on class, and the tragic results of unmitigated greed. Enjoy!"--Reviewed by Susan— From Susan Recommends
July 2019 Indie Next List
“Breathless. This novel left me absolutely breathless. I found beauty in the multiple layers of sadness and tragedy of the characters and felt a unique sense of closeness to the main character. Jones has delivered an enthralling tale of personal exploration, leading us through scenes full of deep and raw emotion that leave the reader unsure where to place their alliance. Superb!”
— Jennifer Morrow, Bards Alley, Vienna, VA
“The Snakes is many things—a parable and an ancient drama where a father’s greed devours his children, a police procedural, an avid take on tabloid venality, and a bitter comedy, superbly observed, where behind a woman’s eyes she is ‘all movement inside herself, like a wasp in a glass.’ I admit that I’m still shaken by parts of this novel. Sadie Jones writes with pitiless aplomb and corrosive intelligence.” --Louise Erdrich
A chilling page-turner and impossible to put down, THE SNAKES is Sadie Jones at her best: breathtakingly powerful, brilliantly incisive, and utterly devastating.
Recently married, psychologist Bea and Dan, a mixed-race artist, rent out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving through France they visit Bea's dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic.
When Alex and Bea's parents make a surprise visit, Dan can't understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she's never wanted him to know them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming and rich. They are the richest people he has ever met. Maybe Bea's ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she's been keeping.
Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath the family is stripped back to its heart, and then its rotten core, and even Bea with all her strength and goodness can't escape.
About the Author
Sadie Jones is the author of five novels, including The Outcast, winner of the Costa First Novel Award in Great Britain and a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize/Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; the enchanting, hard-hitting novel set on the island of Cyprus during the British occupation, Small Wars; her most successful, bestselling novel The Uninvited Guests, beloved of Ann Patchett and Jackie Winspear, among other; the romantic novel set in London's glamorous theatre world, Fallout; and most recently, the highly acclaimed, bestselling novel, The Snakes. Sadie Jones lives in London.
“The Snakes is a creepy, scary novel about the corrosive effects of money and power and parenthood… Jones writes with cool, crisp prose about cruelty of many kinds; about class and race and power; and about regular people caught up in complicated situations that veer far out of control. She has an Ian McEwan-esque ability to provoke tension and anxiety… I would walk a long distance to procure one of Jones’s daring, interesting, beautifully written, atmospheric books.”
— New York Times Book Review
“Deliciously wicked…The novel’s contemporary setting exhibits the markings of Gothic terror, with wry allusions to Frankenstein, Edgar Allan Poe and even Stephen King. But Jones coils all these old elements around new anxieties involving race and class…She’s pursuing a wholly original story about the repercussions of trauma…The criminal story that emerges grows more shocking because of the rare quality of brutality in Jones’s prose…She excels at drawing us into tender sympathy with her characters even as she coolly subjects them to the most monstrous treatment. The result is hypnotic—like staring into the serpent’s eyes just before it strikes.”
— Ron Charles, Washington Post
“A provocative and astute writer…The Snakes asks serious questions about human nature, avarice and justice, wrapped in the fast-paced rhythms of a thriller. It is written with Jones’s trademark economy and a fierce attention to the nuances of familial cruelty…I finished The Snakes with a juddering heart, strangely close to tears.”
— The Guardian
“Jones’ portrayal of a dysfunctional family is as powerful as her depiction of provincial France in all its ‘tasteful narrowness’ and her merciless examination of greed, class and corruption…The book’s desperate last act may constitute a jolting change of gear and direction, but that matters little because the events that unfold are so electrifying.”
— Malcolm Forbes, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Ever since her debut, The Outcast, Jones has peopled her propulsive plots with nuanced, dimensional creations, imbued with human failings and graces. The Snakes is no exception…Jones crafts a pitiless shock ending; a denouement that refuses closure and resonates long after the book is set aside, because of its appalling implications… [The ending is] bound to become a talking point.”
— Financial Times
“Sadie Jones has composed a fast-paced story, a reflection on the dysfunctional family of origin that questions principles/values and the sins that are committed in the wake of their disregard. Like the sound of the snakes moving across the hotel attic floor, ‘The Snakes’ will haunt you long after you’ve finished this book.”
“Corrosive secrets are slowly revealed as the story comes to a heart-pounding conclusion…Don’t be misled by the title. Although a few creepy reptiles make an appearance, the real snakes in this twisty story are human ones. Another memorable novel from the versatile Jones.”
— Library Journal, Starred Review
“Jones’s propulsive yet thoughtful fifth novel grips readers from the first page…a tightly crafted, deeply moving, and thrilling story about how money corrupts and all the myriad ways members of a family can ruin each other.”
— Publishers Weekly
“All families are dysfunctional in some way, but some, like Bea’s family, ratchet dysfunction to dizzying heights… An understated, yet page-turning story.”
“Snakes as temptation, snakes as untrustworthy people, snakes as dangerous reptiles—all present and accounted for in this suspenseful drama of an ultrarich, dysfunctional British family… A well-executed, character-driven cross between domestic drama and crime thriller.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“The Snakes is many things—a parable and an ancient drama where a father’s greed devours his children, a police procedural, an avid take on tabloid venality, and a bitter comedy, superbly observed, where behind a woman’s eyes she is ‘all movement inside herself, like a wasp in a glass.’ I admit that I’m still shaken by parts of this novel. Sadie Jones writes with pitiless aplomb and corrosive intelligence.”
— Louise Erdrich
“I read The Snakes with a reader’s delight and a writer’s awe: Sadie Jones exerts such a powerful influence of creeping dread I found myself pausing both to recover my breath and to wonder how she had done it. It is somehow both pitiless - not least in its eviscerating portrait of the corrupting power of money, in which it recalls the novels of Edward St Aubyn - and ultimately possessed with a strange grace. Genuinely, a triumph.”
— Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
“Finished The Snakes by Sadie Jones in the small hours last night. Gripping from the outset, then finally unputdownable. The writing is magnificent. One of the most powerful and uncompromising novels I’ve read in years.”
— Jonathan Coe