A vaguely sinister comedy of manners by beloved artist Edward Gorey
Told in a set of fourteen rhyming couplets, The Doubtful Guest is the story of a solemn, mysterious, outdoor creature, dressed rather ordinarily in sneakers and a scarf, who appears on a winter night at a family's Victorian home and never leaves again. Gorey's eerie and charming illustrations accompany the verses, making this an enjoyably strange (and strangely enjoyable) read for all ages.
Originally published in 1957, The Doubtful Guest
serves as a prime example of the beauty, eccentricity, and brilliance of Edward Gorey's work. If the book was read aloud without revealing the accompanying black-and-white drawings, you might guess the tale came from the quirky genius of Dr. Seuss. The rhyming couplets and nonsensical verse (about an even more nonsensical creature) feel familiar, but in Gorey's skilled hands, the experience becomes altogether new.
The doubtful guest shows up unannounced and unwelcome, yet its presence is accepted after only a brief interlude of screaming. The staid, pale, Victorian inhabitants of the mansion alternately stare and glare at the doubtful guest as it tears out whole chapters from books, peels the soles of its white canvas shoes, and broods while lying on the floor ("inconveniently close to the drawing-room door"). Strangely, or rather, typically, as this is a Gorey book, the stymied occupants never ask the guest to leave--and in 17 years it has still "shown no intention of going away." Maintaining a matter-of-fact tone in spite of true oddity is pure, delicious Gorey, and his trademark drawings are not to be missed. The ghostly, stark, and undeniably amusing illustrations make The Doubtful Guest an entrancing tale in which reserved, insular lives meet with the unexpected and bizarre. (Ages 5 and older)