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To Love A Stranger

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  23 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Sam and Jeannette have two things in common: a passion for music and a need to escape from themselves. In the fall of 1986, when President Reagan is in his second term, Elton John plays on the radio, and Spike Lee is conquering the box office, Sam and Jeannette meet in Virginia. Both of them have landed their first jobs with the Richmond Symphonic Artists, a small orchestr ...more
Published May 2017 by Blue Moon Publishers
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Roger Brunyate
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay-lesbian, music
By a Musician, and it Shows

I bought this book (it was not a freebie) because I knew the author in her days as a pianist. For two years, Kris used to accompany opera rehearsals in my department at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. For rather longer, she was also the principal choral accompanist at the conservatory, which is the profession of her female protagonist here, Jeannette Reilly. It was no surprise, therefore, to see that Kris has the musical details in the book exactly right: not only t
Booksandchinooks (Laurie)
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book has two main characters, Sam and Jeanette. They meet when they both move to the same city and work in an orchestra together. Sam has just been hired as Maestro and Jeannette becomes his accompanist. There is much detail about orchestras and music throughout the book which was interesting. I found the first half of the book slow but well written and then it moves faster as the book continues. Sam has come to this orchestra with many secrets about himself. As he and Jeannette form a rela ...more
Mar 03, 2017 added it
Shelves: blurbed
LOVED IT. BLURBED IT! "To Love A Stranger …is a novel full of all kinds of love—big, messy, secret. It is a novel full of music and juicy orchestra drama rivaling Mozart In The Jungle. It is a novel full of both sweetness and sadness. Readers are safe in this author’s thoughtful hands, amidst these gorgeous words, in this world rich with the heady sounds of darkness, honesty, forgiveness. To Love A Stranger is written with the harmony of humanity in mind. To Love A Stranger is a song.” ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
To love a Stranger is a very touching story. Trying to change, to meet the expectations of society can be more damaging and hurtful than accepting and being who you are.

Sam is a young talented Maestro who is running from his past. The Richmond Symphonic Artists, a failing small orchestra gives him a chance to try and turn things around. It's not much but it's something and more of a challenge.

Jeannette is an accompanist, looking to find her place in the music industry. She moves in with her si
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 1980s, gay, aids
As the author told me, when I interviewed her, the protagonist, Sam, had something that happened that made his father throw him out of the house, but like Jeannette, the other protagaonist, for the longest time, she could not figure it out. And as she wrote, she realized that it was because he was Gay.

This is a well written take on Gay life in the 1980s, during the height of the AIDS crisis, when President Reagan did not give a damn, and the Gay men were dropping like flies.

This is not a quick r
Elaine Mullane || At Home in Books
This one just wasn't for me. It's a very simple story of love and love for music. Sadly, it just didn't leave its mark. In fact, I nearly gave up on it.

Our protagonists Sam and Jeannette meet in the autumn of 1986 when they both secure a job with the small orchestra Richmond Symphonic Artists. Reagan is in Presidency, Elton John is regular on the radio and our two main characters fall for each other through their deep discussions about music. Throughout the story they try to build a future toget
Mary Harris
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Be true to yourself" is a principal of life that we've all heard, and which many of us have had to learn the hard way. It is this truth that underpins the painful story of Jeannette and Sam, the main characters in To Love a Stranger. Both are musically gifted, and are continually redeemed by music as a lifeline to hold on to. Both are emotionally damaged and come from small towns; the only escape is moving to a city large enough to hide them.

In the city of Richmond, they meet as new employees o
Laura Newsholme
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I have such wildly mixed feelings about this book. It tells the story of Sam and Jeanette, a maestro and his accompanist, and their relationship in Richmond during the late 80s. It is quite difficult to talk about this book without giving anything away, so I will have to keep things fairly surface level. The prose is really well written and the pacing is languid, allowing for a real interrogation of the characters and I think this was my problem. I found the two main characters really difficult ...more
Elizabeth Mathis
Rating: 4/5 Penguins
Quick Reasons: I have the feels; I guess I understand things a little better, now; for a hot second, I was about to be REALLY angry about this book--and then I reread the blurb; I still don't quite understand

I'm going to be honest, Penguins. I got about 30% into this book, and for a hot second, was about to be REALLY angry in my review....and then I reread the blurb. See, a part of my brain thought there was no way in HELL this could be set in present-day, due to the internal
Saarah Niña
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Didn't much like the characters

This book tells the story of a man, Sam, alienated by his parents due to his romantic involvement with another man, Gil who is suffering from AIDS. To 'redeem' himself in the eyes of the Church, he attempts to change his sexuality. This gets out of hand, and those he loves are hurt..

I did like this book, the core message that you shouldn't change who you are just to fulfil the desires of others is obviously a good value to uphold. I also liked the music theme whi
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The synopsis for this book makes it sound very related to popular culture in the late 1980s. That is a bit misleading. The only link this story has is to the AIDS epidemic and society's nonacceptance of a homosexual male. There is no quirky pop references to balance out the seriousness running throughout the book. Sam is trying to distance himself from his former lover, who is dying of AIDS, and his life as a gay man. Jeanette is trying to distance herself from the small town where she grew up a ...more
Susan Ingram
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Any novel that can make me cry more than once is a winner. In Kris Faatz’s debut novel “To Love A Stranger,” the lives of her characters are difficult and challenging at times, yes, but also lovely and forgiving, sad and impossible. For Faatz’s musician protagonists, Sam and Jeanette, being thrown together as conductor and rehearsal pianist for a struggling Richmond civic orchestra proves their doing and undoing. The novel traces the inner lives of two people who in many ways have walled themsel ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What would you do if you discover a secret that your husband has been keeping from you? Jeanette and Sam share a love of music.jeanette meets Sam when they are hired by a small orchestra trying to survive. They married yet both have kept their secrets to themselves. Will they tell each other these secrets that haunt them? It is a story that may surprise you. I ended up reminding me of a statement that someone said. It was: "you really never know your friends as well as you think--we all have our ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to read an ARC and write a blurb for this compelling and well-structured novel.

How well do we know the people we love? This question is at the heart of Kris Faatz's beautifully written first novel. With Sam and Jeannette, Faatz has created two sympathetic, deeply flawed characters, driven by loneliness and a desire to belong. Set in the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, their story unfolds with tragic inevitability. Compassionate and emotionally engaging, To Love a Stra
Miriam Hamilton
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a tribute to the eighties and a time when the people believed that LGBTQ lifestyles were a threat to society. Sam and Jeannette inhabit this painful world but live through the music that offers them sustenance to keep them going. I couldn't get the story or the characters out of my head, because Kris Faatz does a masterful job of moving us through a love affair into an ending that is both unexpected and powerful. This book stays with you for days. ...more
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To Love A Stranger is a captivating novel that pulls at your heart & mind. It is a "must finish in one sitting" book. Sam and Jeanette are beautifully genuine and accessible. Their agonies, their joys and ultimately their discovery of how best to live and love are delivered with grace and artfulness. I can't wait to read more from Kris Faatz! ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An engaging read that delves into complex personal and social issues. As with a previous reviewer, I do not agree with some decisions made by the main characters; however, this book is thought provoking and relevant to today's society. I suspect it will remain so for a long time. ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pleasantly different story
Elinor Walker
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Feb 09, 2018
Mary Chelius
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Jun 30, 2020
Pamela Scott
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Professional Reader

I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

I really enjoyed To Love A Stranger. I thought the characters were fantastic, so real and flawed it was almost painful to read the book at times. I thought Sam was a very sympathetic character. He was faced with difficult choices trying to do his best. Jeannette was also very sympathetic and my heart went out to her for loving Sam, someone she didn’t know at all. Sa
Very rarely will I not finish a book, and this makes three this year. During the first chapter, the setting seemed so familiar, then it clicked “This sounds like Philadelphia with Tom Hanks. I’ve already seen this movie.” While there are definite similarities between the movie and this book, I decided to give the book a try.

Sam, the main character is so secretive he’s unlikable. He hides and lies, and this not only makes him untrustworthy, but makes me hate him before I even really get into the
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Kris Faatz (rhymes with skates) is a fiction writer and musician. Her first novel, To Love A Stranger, was a finalist for the 2016 Schaffner Press Music in Literature Award and was released May 2017 by Blue Moon Publishers (Toronto, ON). Her second novel, literary fantasy Fourteen Stones, is forthcoming in 2022 from The Patchwork Raven (Wellington, NZ).

Kris’s short fiction has appeared or is forth

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