By Gina Sorell
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PREVIEW MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS: Mothers and Other Strangers—Preface
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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 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.
Praise for Mothers and Other Strangers
Long and Short Reviews Winner of The Reader’s “Best Book” Poll from September!
A Great Group Reads 2017 Pick!
A Foreword Reviews Favorite!
“Mesmerizing and quietly revealing, Sorell’s memorable novel expertly weaves Elsie’s search for answers about her origins with her own journey of healing.”
— Publishers Weekly
“The relationship between Elsie and Rachel is the real gem here.”
“Whom do we really belong to and why? This dark, gorgeous jewel of a novel probes the secrets we keep and the complex ties of family, love, and loss. Shattering and brilliant, this marks the debut of an astonishing talent.”
— Caroline Leavitt, New York Times–bestselling author of Cruel Beautiful World and Pictures of You
“A fascinating look at a unique and fractured parent-child relationship…engaging and tense.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Gina’s riveting novel centers on a woman who must unravel the mystery of her late mother’s life. Along the way, she uncovers family secrets that change her forever.”
— Good Housekeeping Magazine
“Mothers and Other Strangers is a memorable first novel, a delightfully twisty gothic with the strange and eerie urgency of a fable or a dream.”
— Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will and You Remind Me of Me
“A stunning debut, Mothers and Other Strangers grips from page one. It’s a perfect weave of suspense and of insight about how people love and hurt one another, and sometimes heal, and sometimes cannot. I highly recommend this novel and look forward—impatiently—to Gina Sorell’s future work.”
— Robin Black, author of Life Drawing
“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 and 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.”
— Shannon Rose, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MD
“A young woman’s investigation of her mother’s mysterious past uncovers disturbing revelations about love, family and the fragile bonds that both connect us and tear us apart. An absorbing, sensitive novel that confirms the troubling reality that it’s often the people closest to us who do the most harm.”
— Elizabeth Brundage, author of All Things Cease to Appear
“…Sorell reveals herself as an author to watch…Ultimately, the sinister romance here, combined with an unflinching exploration of what can contribute to a mental breakdown, left me wanting to read whatever Sorell writes next.”
— The Globe and Mail Review
“Sorell covers a lot of ground — physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically — and deftly weaves it all into a complex plot. The loaded narrative, tide-like in its advancing and receding movement, runs over an undercurrent of self-deprecating sarcasm and pity born of hurt and emotionally fuelled assumptions. In other words, the stuff many mothers and daughters allow themselves to get caught up in.”
— The Toronto Star
“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.”
— San Francisco Book Review
“Sorel’s haunting exploration of that failure is the saddest love story in the world, filled with all the yearning and unrequited love of a feral child trying to attach to a narcissistic parent. Mothers and Other Strangers gets at the raw truth of survivorship, showing that even when the past is buried, it never truly dies.”
— Foreword Reviews
“This compelling debut reveals the astronomical cost of harboring family secrets. Somehow Gina Sorell has managed to craft both a meditation on the messiness of mother-daughter bonds and a mystery that will keep you turning pages until the wee hours of the morning.”
— Michelle Brafman, author of Bertrand Court and Washing the Dead
“From the first shocking sentence of Gina Sorell’s Mothers & Other Strangers I was hooked on the twisting ride of a woman who receives an inheritance of secrets, debt, and the mess left behind. With stunning prose and the danger of a thriller, Sorell reaches deep into a broken heart and finds what’s still beating. I am a fan!”
— Susan Henderson, author of Up from the Blue
“Gina Sorell has written a complex mystery of the human heart in her poignant debut novel, Mothers and Other Strangers, exploring how the emotional riddle of our parents shapes our lives well into adulthood. To paraphrase Philip Larkin, they screw you up, your mom and dad…. This book is a must read for anyone who has struggled to understand their own parents.”
— Robert Eversz, author of Shooting Elvis
About the Author
Gina Sorell is a writer who was born in South Africa and now lives in Toronto with her husband and son. After two decades as a working actor in Los Angeles and Toronto, Gina returned to her first love, writing, and graduated with distinction from the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. When she isn’t writing fiction, she’s the creative director of Eat My Words, a San Francisco–based branding firm. Mothers and Other Strangers is her first novel.