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Friends and Strangers

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

An enjoyable and insightful exploration of a unique friendship between two women who couldn’t be more different.



Elizabeth is an accomplished writer and new mother trying to adjust to life in a small town after nearly 20 years in New York City. Alone with her infant son all day, she feels uneasy, misses her NYC friends and neglects her writing.

Sam is a senior at the local women’s college struggling with decisions about her future. She is worried about exorbitant student loan debt, her romantic relationship and what that means for her future career.

Elizabeth hires Sam to babysit and they begin to grow close. The differences between the women’s lives becomes starkly revealed in an betrayal that has devastating consequences. FRIENDS AND STRANGERS reveals how a single year can shape the course of a life, and explores motherhood and privilege.


FRIENDS AND STRANGERS is enjoyable and insightful Women’s Fiction exploring a unique friendship between two women who couldn’t be any more different. Differences in backgrounds, class, age and wealth combine to create a complicated relationship between a mother and her child’s caregiver.

The slowly-paced novel was easy and entertaining. While the pacing and lack of high drama initially bothered me, The delightful writing, and the realness of the story kept my head in the book. And I am glad it did. For me this is one of those books that you are thinking about days after you finish reading. It is so relevant today as distinctions between class and privilege are ever more present.

My favorite part of this book was Sam’s diverse friendships. In addition to Elizabeth and her long distance boyfriend, she became close to Elizabeth’s unemployed and activist father-in-law, as well as the women who worked in the school cafeteria.

Author Julie Courtney Sullivan is in a novelist and former writer for the New York City Times. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son. Previous novels include Maine (2011), The Engagements (2014) and Saints for All Occasion (2017).

Publisher Knopf Publishing Group/Random House Audio

Published June 30, 2020

Narrated Kate Rudd

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