I liked this book a lot more than most people seemed to.
I was really interested in the characters and setting, though the story didn't really captivate me until the guests in question arrived. Then it went in a direction I wasn't expecting, and I loved it.
However, once the major conflict was resolved, the book went on for a while longer. One of the last scenes, with youngest daughter Smudge and a family horse, was completely anticlimactic and uninteresting to me. I really could have done without that scene. The other scenes toward the end worked very well, offering a satisfying conclusion to a few loose ends.