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"My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted." Thus begins this riveting story of a woman's quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted." Thus begins this riveting story of a woman's quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are coming from the cult-like spiritual program her mother belonged to, Elsie works to unravel the message her dying mother left for her, a quest that ultimately takes her to the South African family homestead she never knew existed.


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"My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted." Thus begins this riveting story of a woman's quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted." Thus begins this riveting story of a woman's quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are coming from the cult-like spiritual program her mother belonged to, Elsie works to unravel the message her dying mother left for her, a quest that ultimately takes her to the South African family homestead she never knew existed.

30 review for Mothers and Other Strangers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Heart-wrenching, engrossing and deeply moving! This is an intriguing novel that highlights the enduring physical and psychological effects parents can have on their children and emphasizes just how important guidance, affection, respect and love are in child development. The prose is eloquent and fluid. The characters are fragile, tormented and raw. And the plot is a subtle journey into one middle-aged, woman’s life as she tries to discover her true self and find some form of closure and happiness Heart-wrenching, engrossing and deeply moving! This is an intriguing novel that highlights the enduring physical and psychological effects parents can have on their children and emphasizes just how important guidance, affection, respect and love are in child development. The prose is eloquent and fluid. The characters are fragile, tormented and raw. And the plot is a subtle journey into one middle-aged, woman’s life as she tries to discover her true self and find some form of closure and happiness while piecing together all the secrets and sins of a mother she never truly knew. Overall this is an incredibly thought-provoking, gripping, beautiful debut by Sorell that does a remarkable job of illuminating the complex bonds and emotional ties between mothers and daughters. Thank you to PGC Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. All my reviews can be found on my blog at http://whatsbetterthanbooks.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    To be honest, I thought MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS was a thriller. At least that is the feeling I got from the book's blurb. The first thing the blurb says about the book is: "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man's child, she accepted." Wow, that is what I call a captivating line. I just had to read this book! Alas, this book is not a thriller. It's about a woman finding herself, learning more about the past To be honest, I thought MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS was a thriller. At least that is the feeling I got from the book's blurb. The first thing the blurb says about the book is: "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man's child, she accepted." Wow, that is what I call a captivating line. I just had to read this book! Alas, this book is not a thriller. It's about a woman finding herself, learning more about the past, and finding peace. READ THE WHOLE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Leavitt

    Truly, this is one of the most magnificent debuts I have ever read. From its gripping first sentence to it's deeply satisfying end, Sorell mines the charged territory of mothers, daughters, home, husbands, betrayal, and, of course, secrets. Are we who we came from? What is the cost of love, of control? It truly is a masterwork. Truly, this is one of the most magnificent debuts I have ever read. From its gripping first sentence to it's deeply satisfying end, Sorell mines the charged territory of mothers, daughters, home, husbands, betrayal, and, of course, secrets. Are we who we came from? What is the cost of love, of control? It truly is a masterwork.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Freeman

    A promising beginning, a dull and plodding conclusion. And in the middle another unreported rape of a minor child. Characters so badly developed that the reader has little sympathy for any of them. A forced march to finish.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Siel Ju

    The story follows Elsie, a thirty-something woman in Los Angeles who learns her estranged mother — a beautiful, self-absorbed, and secretive parent — has died. So Elsie goes on a journey to discover the true story of her mother — a story that takes her all over the world, from Los Angeles to Toronto to Paris to Cape Town. What I found most compelling in Mothers and Other Strangers is the complex tension of emotions Elsie has about her mother: A mother who tells fabulous stories of her past, not a The story follows Elsie, a thirty-something woman in Los Angeles who learns her estranged mother — a beautiful, self-absorbed, and secretive parent — has died. So Elsie goes on a journey to discover the true story of her mother — a story that takes her all over the world, from Los Angeles to Toronto to Paris to Cape Town. What I found most compelling in Mothers and Other Strangers is the complex tension of emotions Elsie has about her mother: A mother who tells fabulous stories of her past, not a word of which may be true. A mother whose glamour and beauty Elsie craves, but hates constantly competing against. A mother whose approval Elsie desperately seeks, yet whose cold narcissism Elsie finds repellent. But Mothers and Other Strangers covers much more ground than just the mother-daughter relationship, touching on everything from the financially predatory nature of spiritual cults (the mother belonged to one) to the punishing demands of creative ambition (Elsie is a dancer). Part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age story, and part redemption narrative, the book does sometimes feel like it’s trying to do too many things. Still, the energy of the plot and the ambitious scope of the story made this novel a real page-turner.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shannon A

    This book grabs you at the opening lines and won't let you go. Elsie dreams of fire and doesn't fully understand how deep her mother's ties to a group called the Seekers was until her mother's death. The discovery of a bundle of photos & a priceless ring take Elsie from her home in Canada to Africa on a journey that leads her to the past she never knew she had. A stunning, rich and heartfelt debut of suspense. This book grabs you at the opening lines and won't let you go. Elsie dreams of fire and doesn't fully understand how deep her mother's ties to a group called the Seekers was until her mother's death. The discovery of a bundle of photos & a priceless ring take Elsie from her home in Canada to Africa on a journey that leads her to the past she never knew she had. A stunning, rich and heartfelt debut of suspense.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    A dark, jewel of a novel probes the secrets we keep and the complexities of family, love and loss. Both shattering and brilliant, this novel will tear you, send some cruelty, but also reality. Riveting debut. She’s a gifted Toronto writer.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sallie Klein

    Looking for a great read? I just finished this page turner my friend, Gina Sorell wrote. You will NOT be disappointed. It's a page turner and you're hooked from the first lines. I'm not kidding... "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was 19, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man's child, she accepted." It took me 3 nights to read but if I didn't have two young children I probably would have finished it in one sitting.... Where to buy your own copy? I got mine a Looking for a great read? I just finished this page turner my friend, Gina Sorell wrote. You will NOT be disappointed. It's a page turner and you're hooked from the first lines. I'm not kidding... "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was 19, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man's child, she accepted." It took me 3 nights to read but if I didn't have two young children I probably would have finished it in one sitting.... Where to buy your own copy? I got mine at Chapters/ Indigo so you can even order yourself of a copy online 🙂 Thanks Gina! Great job!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ “Like the cancer that had claimed her a week earlier, my mother has been like an illness to me, and eventually I’d had to cut her out.” Toxic mothers create a strange condition in some children whether they’re a son or daughter and grown or still young. A mother/daughter relationship is a different entity entirely. There is often a yearning, a hunger for nurturing unfilled and often said children continue to try and forge a bond with the estrang via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ “Like the cancer that had claimed her a week earlier, my mother has been like an illness to me, and eventually I’d had to cut her out.” Toxic mothers create a strange condition in some children whether they’re a son or daughter and grown or still young. A mother/daughter relationship is a different entity entirely. There is often a yearning, a hunger for nurturing unfilled and often said children continue to try and forge a bond with the estranged mother long after it’s healthy to. Elsie’s mother Rachel was forced, at gunpoint, to marry Elsie’s father despite the fact she was pregnant with a dead man’s child, an ominous step into her future and one that darkened her mind. That isn’t the only shocking secret buried in her mother’s past. As Elsie grew up to the cold shoulder of her vain mother who was always distracted by her own beauty, many flirtations and strange cult, Elsie learned not to expect any attention to be spent on her. Growing up too fast, her escape hatch a career in a dance company while still underage, her mother took no interest in her performances nor successes. Pushing her body to it’s limits, creating a family of her own among the close knit dancers, somehow her mother still managed to make her feel an unworthy, valueless failure. Rachel also manages to bring two men into Elsie’s life that alter the trajectory of her future and their relationship. From her earliest memories, Elsie dreams of fire but there is no prodding that could open her mother’s past. Her mother’s brutal, calculated choices lead to a terrible betrayal between the two. Years of therapy, and her lover Ted’s affections can’t fix the broken pieces of her soul, constant motion is the only thing that keeps her sane. “For a long time, getting to the root of the problem only made me feel worse. I had too many loose threads , and it was dangerous to pull at them.” Rachel is a plague on her relationship with Ted, a man with an optimistic world view. He becomes a buffer between them, but in order to survive, she ‘cuts the cancer out’ completely. Not all women should be mothers, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are. Elsie’s hopes and dreams are ripped from her when she can’t create the family she needs to ‘rewrite’ her history, and so she abandons her future and Ted. Barely having survived her mother, carrying a shameful trauma from her youth that was the seed of her mother’s biggest betrayal, she must return to the source of all the damage when her mother dies. Her choice is to take up the mystery her mother’s final message offers her, the ‘truth’ finally- or bury it with her. Elsie’s decision throws her on the path of the very cult that her mother devoted her life to, the very insidiousness that was the wedge in their relationship and the men that nearly destroyed Elsie. Everything she knew or had guessed about her mother will be turned inside out but will she be ready to learn the devastating truth about who her mother really was? What makes this a riveting debut is the emotional autopsy the reader witnesses Elsie undergo through different parts of her life. It tackles a very sensitive subject, the complex bond between mothers and daughters is difficult enough, even in the best of relationships but when a mother is poisonous, narcissistic it is a chilling, barren world for the daughter. Somehow, it can seem like the coldness seeps into every cell of one’s being, turning every future hope into a frozen tundra. How does one evict the many cruelties suffered at a mother’s hands from one’s head? How does a woman dream of becoming a mother and doing it ‘right’ when she never knew a mother’s unconditional love? Just how much of an ugly past can forgive the sins of a mother? At the conclusion of the novel, I didn’t feel it altered my feelings about such a woman. Truth can be a balm that heals, understanding the full story of any life can sometimes give license to past mistakes but just how much? It’s not about whether or not the reader, or even Elsie, chooses to forgive, it’s about dissecting the deceptions, uncovering truth, and salvaging from the ruins some semblance of a life. This was dark, and heartbreaking. What is more painful that feeling abandoned by one’s mother? Publication Date: May 2, 2017 Prospect Park Books

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    A great read that kept me turning the pages!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa P

    Mesmerizing, thoroughly enjoyed it! A beautiful & richly told story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Leonie Peressini

    An incredible story, extremely well written. This novel hold your attention from page one. I highly recommend Mothers and Other Strangers!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anna MacKay

    Gina can tell a story, heart wrenching and engrossing and a mystery all in one. There were several lines that just jumped off the page for me, she can sum up a feeling so well. Amazing first novel, I can not wait for her next one and many more! The seekers ..... interesting group and for me felt like how we are all seeking and how hard it actually is. This book reminds us that all is not what it seems and I kept thinking - " there but for the grace of god" - yup we never know why people do what Gina can tell a story, heart wrenching and engrossing and a mystery all in one. There were several lines that just jumped off the page for me, she can sum up a feeling so well. Amazing first novel, I can not wait for her next one and many more! The seekers ..... interesting group and for me felt like how we are all seeking and how hard it actually is. This book reminds us that all is not what it seems and I kept thinking - " there but for the grace of god" - yup we never know why people do what they do, do we? Thank you for a wonderful read, I lost one or two nights sleep! But it was well worth it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Lindsay

    A riveting story of a woman's quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamourous, cruel narcissist who left her only child a mound of debt, mysteries, threats, and questions. Gina Sorrell has my attention. I loved her searing debut, MOTHERS & OTHER STRANGERS and absolutely reveled in the mystery surrounding both of her characters, daughter Elsie (Elspeth) and her mother, Rachel/Devedra. Just take a read of the first, magical line: "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when s A riveting story of a woman's quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamourous, cruel narcissist who left her only child a mound of debt, mysteries, threats, and questions. Gina Sorrell has my attention. I loved her searing debut, MOTHERS & OTHER STRANGERS and absolutely reveled in the mystery surrounding both of her characters, daughter Elsie (Elspeth) and her mother, Rachel/Devedra. Just take a read of the first, magical line: "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was pregnant with a dead man's child, she accepted." This kind of sounds like one of those winning writing photo prompts at the back of WRITER'S DIGEST, but in a very good way. I found MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS written in such a crisp, flow-y manner propelling the story forward, making it a challenge to set it down. I wanted to know more. The prose is absolutely stunning, the mystery absorbing, and Elsie's mother--troubling. Sorrell writes with such authenticity it was a bit hard to believe this wasn't a memoir. There is a good deal of backstory in MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS, and this is probably the crux of the entire story. One of the main characters is dead after all, and we need to understand the person she was to make sense of the story. If you're not one for backstory, then select with caution. I happened to love it as I feel our past so very much shapes our present. Elsie is a professional dancer and I found reading about her practice and profession quite fascinating and would recommend to those who enjoyed THE ART OF FALLING (Kathryn Craft), and other books about dancers. This is probably a third of the book and adds a great deal of depth. There are a few pieces that may cause pause for some. If rape or eating disorders are triggers, please be aware. Still, Sorrell handles this with grace and discretion. There is a cult-like aspect with the Seekers, a religious philosophy that may bristle a few; still it's all part of the story and makes complete sense in the end. You'll travel from L.A. to Toronto and on to Paris with Sorrell's characters who are electric, fully formed and absolutely a perfect weave of suspense and sensitive blend of how people love and hurt one another. It's about finding one's place in the world and how, if we try, we can overcome the negative hand(s) we've been dealt. There's definitely a wave of hope and inspiration folded within the pages of MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS. For all my reviews, including author interviews, please see: www.leslielindsay.com Special thanks to Prospect Park Books for this review copy. All thoughts are my own.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I got this book as a review copy from Library Thing's early reviewer program. It's really just the kind of book that I love, love, love. Great character studies and character development, coming of age stuff. First person and a little bit of plot twist. Of course I always love the psychological thriller aspect, a little bit of narcissistic personality and I'm sold! Kept me turning pages until the last page. I'll definitely be looking for more from this author! I got this book as a review copy from Library Thing's early reviewer program. It's really just the kind of book that I love, love, love. Great character studies and character development, coming of age stuff. First person and a little bit of plot twist. Of course I always love the psychological thriller aspect, a little bit of narcissistic personality and I'm sold! Kept me turning pages until the last page. I'll definitely be looking for more from this author!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Margo Littell

    Elsie has never been close with her mother, Rachel, but theirs is no ordinary mother/daughter rift. Rachel’s devotion to a cult-like group called the Seekers overwhelmed any inclination she may have had to be a real parent to Elsie. A professional dancer, Elsie forged an independent life with her dance company, but she never gave up hope of establishing a better relationship with Rachel; and her capacity to believe her mother could change resulted, years ago, in an act of violence that colored t Elsie has never been close with her mother, Rachel, but theirs is no ordinary mother/daughter rift. Rachel’s devotion to a cult-like group called the Seekers overwhelmed any inclination she may have had to be a real parent to Elsie. A professional dancer, Elsie forged an independent life with her dance company, but she never gave up hope of establishing a better relationship with Rachel; and her capacity to believe her mother could change resulted, years ago, in an act of violence that colored the rest of Elsie’s life. Still, when Rachel dies, Elsie can’t shake the feeling that her mother was more than just a Seekers devotee--and she’s quickly proven right when she visits her mother’s apartment and finds a box of tantalizing clues about her mother’s history. As Elsie moves across New York City, Paris, and South Africa, Rachel’s secrets slowly gather power--and make Elsie powerful as well. Jumping back and forth in time, Mothers draws a vivid and moving portrait of a mother who can’t outrun her own lies, and a daughter who wants more than anything to forgive her mother--and heal herself. ***Review originally written for the City Book Review. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.***

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah King

    I started this book at my usual bedtime reading time, and stayed up far too late. Gina Sorell can tell a story! I was fascinated, surprised, loved the unapologetic Toronto setting (my city), was jealous of the idyllic community of dancers living together in a house on Brunswick Avenue, was curious and a little skeptical about the cult the mother is involved with, and then thoroughly enjoyed being transported to Paris and then South Africa. Sorell packs a lot into the book—multiple continents, ti I started this book at my usual bedtime reading time, and stayed up far too late. Gina Sorell can tell a story! I was fascinated, surprised, loved the unapologetic Toronto setting (my city), was jealous of the idyllic community of dancers living together in a house on Brunswick Avenue, was curious and a little skeptical about the cult the mother is involved with, and then thoroughly enjoyed being transported to Paris and then South Africa. Sorell packs a lot into the book—multiple continents, time periods, and one mystery folding into another. It's billed as a serious mother-daughter story, but it seems to me the book's strength is its suspense. The protagonist may have been deprived of good mothering, but she's smart, determined, and a survivor. She's also able to travel around the world at a moment's notice, and while what she finds may not be perfect, she does find answers. It's a page turner--and yes, a great summer read. Enjoy!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Leese

    “Mothers and Other Strangers” is a delicious recipe of all my favorite literary ingredients: unpredictable mystery, tangled relationships, time shifts and contrasting locales. The result is a delectably satisfying story. Gina Sorell’s writing pulls you into the world of the central character Elsie - a daughter looking for truth. I became Elsie's shadow, firmly attached to her and compelled follow. Articulate and naturalistic, Gina’s readable style is filled with well-turned and epigrammatic pear “Mothers and Other Strangers” is a delicious recipe of all my favorite literary ingredients: unpredictable mystery, tangled relationships, time shifts and contrasting locales. The result is a delectably satisfying story. Gina Sorell’s writing pulls you into the world of the central character Elsie - a daughter looking for truth. I became Elsie's shadow, firmly attached to her and compelled follow. Articulate and naturalistic, Gina’s readable style is filled with well-turned and epigrammatic pearls of language. In her debut novel, Gina has asserted herself as an impressive new voice in fiction!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nola

    The insights into the how and why and who we love are truly magnificent. You find yourself having conversations with the characters all on your own. It's a beautiful mystery that makes you wander through your own heart, and very grateful for the guide! Gloriously sophisticated for a first novel. Waiting for what Gina has for us next. The insights into the how and why and who we love are truly magnificent. You find yourself having conversations with the characters all on your own. It's a beautiful mystery that makes you wander through your own heart, and very grateful for the guide! Gloriously sophisticated for a first novel. Waiting for what Gina has for us next.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leonie Peressini

    A wonderful read........ Great story, beautifully written.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl M-M

    Relationships between mothers and daughters can be anything from beautiful loving friendships to dysfunctional codependency. The element I enjoyed the most about this read was the imperfect and yet realistic relationship between Elsie and Rachel. Unless you have ever experienced narcissism first-hand, especially at the hands of a parent, then you might not be able to comprehend how accurate this portrayal is. A narcissist will always put there own self first. In fact they put the self in the word Relationships between mothers and daughters can be anything from beautiful loving friendships to dysfunctional codependency. The element I enjoyed the most about this read was the imperfect and yet realistic relationship between Elsie and Rachel. Unless you have ever experienced narcissism first-hand, especially at the hands of a parent, then you might not be able to comprehend how accurate this portrayal is. A narcissist will always put there own self first. In fact they put the self in the word selfish. Everything is a competition and they will step over or on you and your feelings to come out on top. Every single time. So, bearing all that in mind, it isn’t unusual for Elspeth to have cut out the toxic relationship in order to maintain a healthy life for herself. It also explains why she has no real concept of how her mother lived, how she paid for her meals or what secrets she kept hidden from her daughter. Elsie finds herself experiencing guilt and regret, despite the times her mother has ignored, betrayed and even despised her. Who was this woman really? What kind of secrets did she have that would make someone break in and search her belongings? Too many questions and not enough answers. I thought the ending was a wee bit like a massive info input in the last few pages, so that could have been planned differently. In fact when you consider the pace and development of the rest of the story, I think the bulk revelation at the end was a little detrimental to the tone and essence of the book. I also believe Sorell could have built the plot purely on the whole mother and daughter relationship, without the cult and even without the dramatic ending. Nevertheless Sorell has the heart of a storyteller, so this is just the beginning. *I received an ARC courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss.*

  22. 5 out of 5

    Linda Zagon

    "Mothers and Other Strangers" by Gina Sorell is a very intriguing and captivating novel.  I read this in one sitting and didn't want to put it down. The genres of this novel are Women's Fiction, Fiction, and Mystery. The very first sentence draws you in." My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man's childish accepted". The author describes her characters as complicated and complex. Elise, the daughter of the above mo "Mothers and Other Strangers" by Gina Sorell is a very intriguing and captivating novel.  I read this in one sitting and didn't want to put it down. The genres of this novel are Women's Fiction, Fiction, and Mystery. The very first sentence draws you in." My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man's childish accepted". The author describes her characters as complicated and complex. Elise, the daughter of the above mother, finds that upon her mother's death, she is left with a legacy of debts, dishonesty, mystery, and many secrets. Unfortunately Elise has not been close to her mother for years. Elise's mother was selfish, competitive, uncaring, and not affectionate. There are many twists and turns, Elise embarks on an adventure of discovery to find out her family roots, and the truth. Elise's mother had friendships of question with incredulous people. Elise is longing to find herself, and where she belongs. The author talks about family, betrayal, secrets, friendship and hope. What makes a family? What roles should a mother and daughter have?  What is important in life? I would highly recommend this enjoying book. I received an ARC for review for my honest review and opinion.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Clementine Ford

    A seriously fun and intense book. I missed out on a fair bit of sleep because I couldn't put it down. I'd think, just one more page, over and over until I couldn't keep my eyes open. Gina Sorell has built a world of intrigue with heart. It moves like a mystery, while still managing to be character driven and incredibly well written. It reads like a dance. My only complaint was with some of the descriptions in the early parts of the novel, but I tend to prefer a minimalist style of writing so it' A seriously fun and intense book. I missed out on a fair bit of sleep because I couldn't put it down. I'd think, just one more page, over and over until I couldn't keep my eyes open. Gina Sorell has built a world of intrigue with heart. It moves like a mystery, while still managing to be character driven and incredibly well written. It reads like a dance. My only complaint was with some of the descriptions in the early parts of the novel, but I tend to prefer a minimalist style of writing so it's really personal preference.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I was hooked from the first sentence! If you’re looking for a page turner that keeps you guessing right to the very end, this book is for you. The captivating writing makes you feel like you’re along for the ride with Elsie as she works to understand her mother’s final message. Highly recommend!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Long

    This book grabbed me from the start, and sunk me in. A hard read, as it deals with complex relationships, serious themes, and attempting to find oneself when you don't have any knowledge of where one truly comes from. This book grabbed me from the start, and sunk me in. A hard read, as it deals with complex relationships, serious themes, and attempting to find oneself when you don't have any knowledge of where one truly comes from.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I received a copy of this book through a goodreads giveaway. I was hooked from the start. It's a fascinating debut. I really enjoyed this book. It makes you think about a lot of things. A page turner that kept me wanting more. I hope to see more books by Gina in the future. I received a copy of this book through a goodreads giveaway. I was hooked from the start. It's a fascinating debut. I really enjoyed this book. It makes you think about a lot of things. A page turner that kept me wanting more. I hope to see more books by Gina in the future.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I Really loved this book. Elsie's story was gripping. The way the author moved between past and present was seamless. I really looked forward to my glass of wine and my window into Elsie's story at the end of a long day. I highly recommend this book. I Really loved this book. Elsie's story was gripping. The way the author moved between past and present was seamless. I really looked forward to my glass of wine and my window into Elsie's story at the end of a long day. I highly recommend this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Roesel

    Before even getting into the literary wonderfulness of Gina Sorell’s debut novel, MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS (ProspectParkBooks), let me point out what an absolutely beautiful cover the Prospect Park Books design team has created. And secondly, with the following opening line of Gina’s novel, there’s no way any reader is not going to want to read this book. “My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she a Before even getting into the literary wonderfulness of Gina Sorell’s debut novel, MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS (ProspectParkBooks), let me point out what an absolutely beautiful cover the Prospect Park Books design team has created. And secondly, with the following opening line of Gina’s novel, there’s no way any reader is not going to want to read this book. “My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.” MOTHERS and OTHER STRANGERS Gina Sorell’s, debut novel, MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS (ProspectParkBooks) digs deep into the emotional ties between mothers and daughters. It examines how betrayal and manipulation can affect love and control. It also explores how the dysfunction of our childhood can affect our lives as adults. At 39 years-old, Elsie is ending a relationship, when she’s informed her mother, Rachel has died from cancer. “We had been estranged for years, and still I hadn’t stopped yearning for the relationship we never had. There would be no deathbed reconciliation like in the movies for us. It’s hard to reconcile with a stranger.” Elsie knew, “what it felt like to be incomplete, to long for something and someone you hardly knew, and yet were wise enough to know that its absence defined you.” She returns to her mother’s home expecting to close her affairs and hopefully learn something about the woman she never knew, only to find the place ransacked. Elsie realizes she’s not the only one looking for answers. She discovers Rachel has been lying her entire life, but none-the-less, Elsie holds out hope to find some kind of connection. A neighbor drops off a box filled with Rachel’s belongs, including photographs, which only add more questions. Gina Sorell explains why she called the novel, MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS. “Rachel really is a stranger to her daughter Elise. And because at some point like all of our mothers, she was a woman living in a world that didn’t include us, with people we never met, and hopes and dreams we never knew. She was someone, other than our mother.” It’s hard to imagine a more painful experience than being abandoned by one’s own mother. It’s Elsie’s pursuit for her own identify, that ultimately defines who she is. The past with its secrets and hurts is over, but she has to create her future. MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS is not an easy read. It is layered, complex and intimately deals with our most basic needs and fears as human beings. Sorell’s prose is lyrical and she creates characters you won’t soon forget. Anyone who has, or has had a thorny relationship with her mother may see part of herself in the narrative. It’s amazing what the human psyche will do to protect itself, when the truth is too painful.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Thanks to the publisher and the author for the copy in exchange for my honest review! "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted." Talk about an opening to a synopsis! This instantly drew me in, I had to know what was going on. MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS by Gina Sorell was an immersive read about the relationships and secrets between a mother and her daughter. This is a story about the straine Thanks to the publisher and the author for the copy in exchange for my honest review! "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted." Talk about an opening to a synopsis! This instantly drew me in, I had to know what was going on. MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS by Gina Sorell was an immersive read about the relationships and secrets between a mother and her daughter. This is a story about the strained relationship between Elsie and her mother, Rachel. Having grown up being completely neglected by her mother, Elsie learned at a young age to not expect any kind of support or praise. She threw herself into her dancing career and would go to any lengths to do well - including pushing her body to the limits. Even then, her mother wouldn't attend her performances. Her own narcissism and vanity along with her elaborate and extravagant tales were more important to her than her own daughter. After Rachel dies, Elsie is forced to return to the source of all her pain. She must decide whether or not she will follow the mystery of her mother's final message to her. Her decision brings her down the path to find the cult that her mother was a part of (and made it the most important part of her life). Elsie finds herself deep into more secrets that her mother was keeping from her - will uncovering the truth make up for a lifetime of neglect and abuse? This was a very interesting and complex read. The relationships between mothers and daughters are already complicated but when you add in a toxic mother and a neglected daughter, the dynamic drastically changes. It begs the question of how much can you forgive your mother for in life? Will the truth really set you free and give you the closure you desire? Is there anyway for Elsie to move on with her life and forgive her mother (even though it is after death). I really don't know how I would react in this kind of situation, all I know is that at the end of this book, my opinions on Rachel did not change. Overall, this was an incredible debut! Diving into the minds of these complex and well-developed characters made for an addictive read. The element of cults made for a unique addition to the story. If you want a well-written fiction novel about the dynamic between mothers and daughters, then I'd highly recommend picking this one up! I give this 4/5 stars!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Kimball

    WOW!!! If you are looking for your next favorite book, then look no further because it's right here! Mothers and Other Strangers is an absolute delight on every level. It is truly everything you want a book to be. The characters are complex, interesting, and real. The story is compelling and unique. The relationships are both lovely and tragic. Gina Sorell has the ability to tell a story in a riveting and fluid manner. Her writing style and story telling made me so happy that simultaneously I wa WOW!!! If you are looking for your next favorite book, then look no further because it's right here! Mothers and Other Strangers is an absolute delight on every level. It is truly everything you want a book to be. The characters are complex, interesting, and real. The story is compelling and unique. The relationships are both lovely and tragic. Gina Sorell has the ability to tell a story in a riveting and fluid manner. Her writing style and story telling made me so happy that simultaneously I wanted to read this book as quickly as I could in order to find out what would happen next, but also wanted to read as slowly as possible so that this book would never end. I realize you have no reason to believe me when I say that this is a phenomenal read. That said, I have absolutely no reason to take the time to recommend a book that is only mediocre. Get this book. Get it today. You will not be sorry.

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