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Mothers and Other Strangers

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  633 ratings  ·  121 reviews
"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
Paperback, 318 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Prospect Park Books
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Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  633 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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 ...more
Caroline Leavitt
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Gretchen Freeman
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
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.
Siel Ju
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Shannon A
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sallie Klein
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Lolly K Dandeneau
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
via my blog:
“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
Lisa P
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mesmerizing, thoroughly enjoyed it! A beautiful & richly told story.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great read that kept me turning the pages!
Leonie Peressini
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An incredible story, extremely well written. This novel hold your attention from page one.
I highly recommend Mothers and Other Strangers!
Anna MacKay
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Leslie Lindsay
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Kathryn Craft
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 wh
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!
Margo Littell
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sarah King
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Lindsay Leese
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“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
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I bought this book based on the first line and I was not disappointed! The writing was absolutely beautiful and the story was interesting. It did drag a bit towards the middle (which is why it was a 4 star rather than 5 star book) but it redeemed itself in the end. I already look forward to more by this author!

I would like to note a trigger warning for those sensitive to subjects of rape and eating disorders. Both subjects are in this book and can be triggering to some readers.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Leonie Peressini
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read........ Great story, beautifully written.

Cheryl M-M
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Linda Zagon
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
"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
Clementine Ford
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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'
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!
Melissa Long
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway-wins
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.
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Cindy Roesel
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, Gina Sorell now resides in Toronto, and lives in a world of words. Some of those words are: writer, namer, creative director, artist, daughter, sister, wife and mother.
After two decades as a working actor of stage and screen in NYC, LA, and Toronto, Gina decided to return to her first love–writing, and graduated with distinction from UCLA Extension Writer