This is a 400 page story about Elisabeth and Sam Elisabeth is a published author in her 30s who has moved to a college town where her in laws live Her husband is pursuing an invention idea, and she is supposed to be working on her third book, while caring for their infant son While Elisabeth has met the other women on her street, and is even in a book club with them, she doesn t want to pursue a friendship with any of them Instead, she regularly communicates with her best friend back in Brooklyn, and constantly reads the posts in an online mother s group.
Sam is a senior at a women s college in the town Elisabeth moved to, and is trying to focus on both her studies and her boyfriend in London She is from the middle class, while most of the young women in her dorm are from upper class homes This helps Sam to notice the imbalances between the classes, and makes her keenly aware of the struggles of the immigrant women who work in the food service department at her college She works along with them at times, as a campus job, and considers them her friends, as she does many of the upper class girls in her dorm Her British boyfriend is a self employed tour guide in his 30s, who is pushing her to get married when she finishes school After seeing a job notice on a school bulletin board posted by Elisabeth, Sam goes to interview at Elisabeth s house She gets the job and not only becomes Elisabeth s babysitter, but also Elisabeth s friend and confident This friendship ends up both helping and hindering the two women in various ways, but there are no devastating consequences due to a betrayal, as the book s description states Thus, do not expect some tragic incident in this story Simply expect lots of talk about friendship, college roommates, money issues, employment, pregnancies, IVF procedures, mommy depression, class differences, family problems with parents and a sister, both unhappy and happy childhood memories, happiness and unhappiness with men, kids and babies, etc I really want to call this novel chick lit , but sometimes fear that s a reductionist type of label Yet I fear this book is nowhere near as important, in regards to friendship and social issues, as it appears to want to be In fact, at times it seems like the type of story that is trying to educate the reader on topics, as opposed to the topics coming up in conversations and thoughts in a natural way There are lots of conversations about trivial matters that easily could have been cut from the novel, too, with no loss whatsoever to the reader In addition, the epilogue raises questions than provides answers and insight All in all, a somewhat insightful story about modern young women, but not really anything to write home about A review is all I could write about this book Note I received a free ARC of this book from Vine.
Verdict is still out on whether or not I recommend this fiction story about a mom and her babysitter, which ultimately sank into issues of wealth, class, relationship deceit, boundaries and life choices There was almost too much there in terms of content and also in the writing no detail left unnamed Often, I asked myself why I should care But I laughed aloud at a few parts, identified at times with the characters, and descriptions of a certain Brooklyn mama group were astute Cue shoulder shrug.
Thank you, NetGalley I am grateful for you Last month I was vibrating with excitement over receiving advance copies of J Courtney Sullivan and Curtis Sittenfeld new titles Both were disappointments I m trying to figure out whether their worked has changed, if I ve changed that much as a reader, or most likely, a combination of both.
Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss.
Sullivan writes a dueling narrative of a Brooklyn transplant mom who feels above her new suburban NY home and her nanny, a college student grappling with white privilege as she tries to help her private liberal arts cafeteria worker friends succeed It s an interesting novel to come out now as you can see the divide between how each character feels they are not privileged and instead woke but there is a very clear disparity between them and others.
5 stars Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of Friends and Strangers for my honest review I loved Saints for All Occasions which was J Courtney Sullivan s last book This soon to be released novel is an intimate look at a relationship between two women the privileged writer Elisabeth, a wife and new mother recently exiled from Brooklyn to a small college town in upstate New York, and Sam, the somewhat naive student babysitter who is enad of Elisabeth and her seemingly effortless sophistication While this is a well written novel, it is hard to find much relatable in the snobbish Elisabeth The character of Sam, genuinely kindhearted but caught up in a less than ideal extended holiday romance with a much older London tour guide, is far sympathetic Having recently read Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, a debut novel that also deals with the complex relationship between a sitter and her seemingly well intentioned but emotionally obtuse employer also lovely and wealthy , it was at times hard to read Sullivan s novel without being reminded of Reid s Both stories deal with class, privilege, and life filtered through social media, though Such a Fun Age has the added complexity of race which Friends and Strangers only lightly touches on.
All in all, Friends and Strangers was an enjoyable read, if not as emotionally resonant as I had hoped.
Friends and Strangers by J Courtney Sullivan examines the lives of two women one a new mother and the other a student at an all girls college in New York State.
Elisabeth, a journalist before she moved from New York City to a small town, is adjusting to being a new mother and finding it hard to find time to write her next book Sam, a college senior, who happens to love children and spent the summer as a nanny to twins, is looking for a part time job.
Elisabeth struggles with issues with her parents and sister as well as with pressure from her husband to use their two IVF embryos Sam grapples with making up her mind about what she is going to do after graduation follow her ambition or marry her long distance boyfriend In time, Elisabeth and Sam become friends, which is somewhat uncomfortable for Sam since she is employed by Elizabeth to take care of her baby While the women believe they have many things in common, as time goes on, they grow aware of their differences.
J Courtney Sullivan, a writer of women s fiction, lives in New York with her husband and two children Friends and Strangers is her fifth novel.
My review will be posted on Goodreads starting June 15, 2020.
I would like to thank the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in return for an objective review.
From The Best Selling Author Of Maine And Saints For All Occasions Named One Of The Washington Post S Ten Best books Of The Year And A New York Times Critics Pick Comes An Insightful, Hilarious, And Compulsively Readable Novel About A Complicated Friendship Between Two Women Who Are At Two Very Different Stages In LifeElisabeth, An Accomplished Journalist And New Mother, Is Struggling To Adjust To Life In A Small Town After Nearly Twenty Years In New York City Alone In The House With Her Infant Son All Day And Awake With Him Much Of The Night , She Feels Uneasy, Adrift She Neglects Her Work, Losing Untold Hours To Her Brooklyn Moms Facebook Group, Her Influencer Sister S Instagram Feed, And Text Messages With The Best Friend She Never Sees Any Enter Sam, A Senior At The Local Women S College, Whom Elisabeth Hires To Babysit Sam Is Struggling To Decide Between The Path She S Always Planned On And A Romantic Entanglement That Threatens Her Ambition She S Worried About Student Loan Debt And What The Future Holds In Short Order, They Grow Close And Become Unlikely Confidantes But When Sam Finds An Unlikely Kindred Spirit In Elisabeth S Father In Law, The True Differences Between The Women S Lives Become Starkly Revealed And A Betrayal Has Devastating ConsequencesA Masterful Exploration Of Motherhood, Power Dynamics, And Privilege In Its Many Forms, Friends and Strangers Reveals How A Single Year Can Shape The Course Of A Life Courtney Sullivan moves away from her stories about unruly and entertaining Boston Irish families to take a different look at women s friendships Friends and Strangers is about Elisabeth and Sam, two very different women who are brought together in a college town Elisabeth s from New York, a published writer who is supposed to be working on a new novel while caring for a new baby They ve moved to town to be near inlaws and so her husband can work on an invention Sam is a student at the women s college, from that large Boston Irish family, who is hired by Elisabeth as a nanny.
As usual, Sullivan weaves important family and social issues into the story in a seamless way The woman is a master at creating relatable, believable family dramas, affecting books that are hard to put down I was a huge fan of Saints for All Occasions and found this novel similarly addictive Friends and Strangers is a large and wonderful book about so many things, all of which resonate with living in the world today.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for granting access to this enjoyable novel Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader