Female Friendships can be complicated. Especially as we get older.
The dynamics of class, friendship, marriage, motherhood, power, and privilege, are explored to absolute perfection in “Friends and Strangers” by J. Courtney Sullivan.
Elizabeth is a married mother, who struggles with her new life in Upstate New York. Having recently moved from Brooklyn, life in Upstate New York, leaves much to be desired. Though she and her husband Andrew are happy, their marriage isn’t anything to write home about. Elizabeth is a published writer who is somewhat successful, though she is struggling to find inspiration in her new locale.
Sam is a college student who begins babysitting for Gil, Elizabeth, and Andrew’s little boy. Sam has big dreams until she meets Clive while on holiday in England. Clive is an older guy who doesn’t exactly have his life together. A whirlwind romance ensues and soon the two plan to marry and Sam’s plans go out the window.
Though Sam and Elizabeth become close friends, despite their age difference, they don’t tell each other everything, nor do they voice all of their opinions to each other about any concerns they might have, instead they simply try to be supportive, no matter what. What happens between these two during their friendship, highlights the reasons why sometimes it may be better to be that friend who speaks up and tells it like it is, and says the hard stuff, even if it hurts and/ or it’s hard to hear, instead of just being the supportive friend who simply stands by and gives comfort.
Throughout this book, class and privilege take center stage, with Elizabeth and Sam, with Sam and her friend Gabby, and with Sam and Elizabeth’s father-in-law. It is dealt with extremely well and shows the right and wrong way to deal with things.
“Friends and Strangers” was both fascinating and compelling. At times I wished I could jump through the pages of the book and tell these characters to truly talk to each other and inform them both that they had misconceptions about the other. If only they had talked, truly talked, perhaps things would have turned out differently, but alas, this is fiction and it was extremely well done.
If you’re looking for brilliantly plotted, character-driven fiction, this is it.
This was my first book by J. Courtney Sullivan, it will not be my last.
Thank you to my local library for loaning me a copy of this audiobook.
Review posted on Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram.