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Strangers and Cousins

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  143 ratings  ·  38 reviews
A novel about what happens when an already sprawling family hosts an even larger and more chaotic wedding: an entertaining story about family, culture, memory, and community.

In the seemingly idyllic town of Rundle Junction, Bennie and Walter are preparing to host the wedding of their eldest daughter Clem. A marriage ceremony at their beloved, rambling home should be the ha
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Riverhead Books
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3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  143 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Ron Charles
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Leah Hager Cohen’s new novel about a quirky family planning a wedding in a tumbledown house contains all the stale promise of an arthritic rom-com.

But it’s an absolute delight. And if anything about “Strangers and Cousins” sounds tepid or old-fashioned, know that Cohen has infused this story with the most pressing concerns of our era. The result is an unusually substantive comedy, a perfect summer novel: funny and tender but also provocative and wise.

The book is divided into five episodes, like
Elyse Walters
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A trumpet falls from the sky… Linens are soft as cream… A vision of a sunflower seed… A mouse nibbling, nibbling, nibbling....real footsteps in real time...the oblong moon hangs like apricots... cinnamon whispers...a fire....shared silence...peace and longing...4 days before the wedding...3 days before the wedding....2 days...1 day....
The day of the wedding... pregnancy brain... the kids are too young to understand all the backstage of putting on a wedding.... who’s going to clean the bathrooms?
DNF at page 70.

A dysfunctional family story combined with a chaotic family wedding sounds like perfect summer reading to me so I was excited when offered a copy for review. The writing is excellent but the story was a struggle for me. The blurb and description did not seem fitting. It's not funny, light, and breezy but demands strict attention, which I'm not in the mood for right now. I was dreading picking it up so decided to let it go

Not every book is for every reader and this one was not for
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it
*2.5 stars*

The writing style of this book was beautiful, it really was, but the story just wasn’t for me. It was confusing, it didn’t make any sense, and the characters were kinda annoying. Also, the ending was very lacking.
STRANGERS AND COUSINS is beautifully written; I was immediately drawn into this novel. I was pleased with the sometimes laugh out loud humor. The story centers around a wedding taking place in an old family home. A memorable cast of characters is included in this novel which people will appreciate and remember long after reading. I would give this novel more of a 4.5 rating. I very happy to have been given this book, and thanks to Ms. Cohen!
Bruce Katz
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-fiction
This is just a marvelous, magical book that readers will either respond enthusiastically to or roll their eyes at. It's frenetic, playfully serious and seriously playful, delightful, revelatory... Capturing its essence is impossible. In my mind, it is "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (complete with a resident diminutive Puck and 'rude mechanicals' acting out a bizarre, unintelligible theaterical piece) played out in a 21st century progressive household, a description that will be absolutely incompreh ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
A solid 2.5. The author likes the sound of her voice more than I do.
Sheila Samuelson
I won this Arc through a Goodreads giveaway last month. I was a little hesitant to read this cause the description is very unclear of what the story is truly about but I loved it so much!!

Its basicly about 2 families joining together at a wedding 1 an English family the other a Jewish family.

Chaos ensues as they plan the wedding etc. Drama Suspense and Historical Fiction all make for an amazing read for this!!

I will definitely read more by this author in the future.
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-new-books
Truly superb novel, about as close to perfection as I think you can get. This is a genuinely moving and creative family story that is somehow resonant with every great family novel I've ever read. The family of the story is a lovely creation, and the author's special and unique skill is the ability to portray characters ranging from 5 to 85 with perfect accuracy and depth. The author's style is rich and allusive without being abstruse or quirky. Very highly recommended!
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it
STRANGERS AND COUSINS is a good read about a wedding, a family saga, and a timely thesis. The prose by Leah Hager Cohen is absolutely beautiful, but this often caused the story to be somewhat confusing. This is the only reason I’m giving it 3 stars. I really liked the characters, and it’s a fun romp about the lead up to a wedding of rich people, I just wanted a little more.
Naomi Harris
Elegantly written and fine character portrayal of a family of individuals, each ensconced in history and facing the challenges of the wave of the future.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
DNF - after 100 pages I just couldn’t get into the writing style of this book and was mostly bored with the characters and storyline.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5? Delightful. Like A Midsummer Night's Dream -- lovers, family, romps through forests, nighttime wanderings, an impish hero, dreams and memories, encounters with strangers, moonlight, deception, intoxication, personified animals, camping, and a wedding! Really enjoyable read.
Leslie Lindsay
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sprawling multi-generational tale weaving contemporary views of love, marriage, family, birth, death, and secrets in a modern language, but with a timeless feel.

This is my first read from Leah Hager Cohen and STRANGERS AND COUSINS (Riverhead, May 14 2019) breathes magic into the simple, but not easy Erlend family. Cohen's prose is glittering. There's an elegance and timelessness to the way she strings words together, leaving me wholly enraptured.

STRANGERS AND COUSINS is about a wedding. But th
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I received Strangers and Cousins as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

The large, boisterous Erlend clan comes together for the wedding of Clem, the oldest daughter of the family, and her girlfriend Diggs. Amidst this happy time, the family--both collectively and individually--is dealing with a raft of issues and secrets, from changing community demographics to the realities of aging to changing relationship dynamics.

I went back and forth on this one. Hager Cohen is a wonderful writer and does a great
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathleen Gray
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Weddings bring out the best and worst in people. Clem Blumenthal's is no exception. Cohen has, however, written a large novel than one about crazy family members and quirky rituals. She's woven in Aunt Glad's story and more interestingly, how the town of Rundle Junction reacts when a group of ultra-orthodox Jews, the Haredim, move in. Some of this is quite pointed, some over the top, and some takes patience but it's a good read. There's a touch of the twee in the descriptions of Clem's siblings ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I listened to the audio version and got tired of all the lists and digressions. If I'd been reading instead, I could have skipped over all that stuff. There was a principal story line that was the main plot driver, but ultimately seemed to be irrelevant to the point the author was trying to make. I feel like the book presented as a plot-driven story, but was really a "days in the life of these characters" book, and I'm not a big fan of "days in the life" books; I got really tired of it all by th ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is ostensibly a story about a wedding. However, it is also about a family, the ties that connect them, their family's history, and the grand family home and the community it is in. As the day of the wedding draws nearer, events in the surrounding community as well as within the family itself are told. I really enjoyed this story. It is a great story telling the daily activities of a family who, through messiness, truly love each other as they prepare for the spectacle of their oldest's ...more
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I received a free copy of this book through the GoodReads First Reads giveaways.

I had a hard time finishing this book as I dreaded picking it up and finishing it. I thought the description of the book did not match the actual storylines and I was very disappointed. In fact, I felt that there were too many storylines and felt lost many times. Maybe this is a good book for a book club to create discussions, but not for someone who wants to read for fun, like myself.
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
From the New York Times: "Leah Hager Cohen is one of our foremost chroniclers of the mundane complexities, nuanced tragedies, and unexpected tendernesses of human connection." Very deftly and accurately put.

A gentle story about a family gathering at a big, shabby house (that's been in the family for generations) in the New York countryside for a shambolic wedding. The story goes back and forth between the current day and a day 87 years earlier when a town pageant ended in fire and tragedy.
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: galleys, on-bookshelf
Loved it!!

The story outlines the few days leading up to a family wedding to take place at the home passed down through the generations in a small town. Flashing forward and back, the reader gets glimpses into how relationships start and end and historic events that took place within the town.

With elements of race, religion, sexuality and family, you become quickly connected to the characters and invested in how the wedding will turn out. I definitely recommend!
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a fast read that was perfect for my cross-country flight. I enjoyed the story of the family wedding, and appreciated Bennie, the main character, dealing with raising adolescents and the letting go part of parenting. The prose is lovely and the structure was interesting.
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is engaging, entertaining and well written.
I like the plot and the cast of characters.
I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I started out very unsure but the author weaved a story within a story within family. Written beautifully, the characters are flawed but so greatly loved that I am sad the book is done.
A recommended read for those wanting to get lost in profound yet simple words.
Tasha Pum
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in the giveaway! A little predictable but super cute read! Kept me entertained throughout the story.
Rebecca Engebretson
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Really great writing, but overall just meh.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a lovely little book. The writing is excellent and the characters make my heart grow in size.

Thanks to The Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA for putting this on my radar!
Tisha Ludeman
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Funny, lyrical, summer read. This book was a delight!
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Leah Hager Cohen has written four non-fiction books, including Train Go Sorry and Glass, Paper, Beans, and four novels, including House Lights and The Grief of Others.

She serves as the Jenks Chair in Contemporary American Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Lesley University. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Tim
“Theater is like the leopards, Clem told Diggs. It disrupts the status quo, she tried. Until its ideas bring about lasting change by getting incorporated in society. Maybe. Diggs lubricated her skepticism with diplomacy. She’s good at that. But if we’re talking expedience, law has it all over art, bambina.” 0 likes
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