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Strangers and Sojourners

(Children of the Last Days #1)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  877 ratings  ·  81 reviews

An epic novel set in the rugged interior of British Columbia, the first volume of a trilogy which traces the lives of four generations of a family of exiles. Beginning in 1900, and concluding with the climactic events leading up to the Millennium, the series follows Anne and Stephen Delaney and their descendants as they live through the tumultuous events of this century.


Paperback, 573 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by Ignatius Press (first published 1997)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  877 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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Rachel M
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about thirst; the thirst for love, and then, inevitably, for God. Anne comes to the Canadian wilderness as a teacher in the early part of the century, determined to be an independent woman. She finds herself drawn to the reclusive Stephen Delaney, an Irish immigrant, but fights her attraction in pursuit of her "higher ideals." Predictably for everyone except Anne, she can't seem to deny her desire for human companionship, though greatly fearing the costs. Stephen introduces her t ...more
John O'Brien
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm rating my father's novels here as a fan. But I think I'm going to decline writing a review for now, due to my kinship with the author. Suffice to say, I look forward to his books as much as anyone else, and find them deeply moving. I am not unaware of their flaws, but their strengths surpass them, and so abundantly, that I find them almost moot. I'm normally moved to the point of tears about 3-4 times per novel (If I find myself choked up only once, I tell him it's not his best work). He has ...more
Oct 31, 2009 rated it liked it
I am torn with this book. The book itself is very well written, but the story flows very slowly. The book covers the life of Anne Delaney, but skips large portions of time to cover what the author thinks are important events in her life. The book is comprised of a series of narratives and journal entries. There is nothing that drives one to press forward with the story and the ending is not very satisfactory. If it were not for the fact that the story is well written I may have given up on the b ...more
Brandi Banadyga
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have had more of a conversion of heart reading this novel than any spiritual reading I’ve done. I will definitely read it again, and almost want to start right now.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book soon after it was published 20 years ago. Reading it for a book club 20 years later was an interesting experience. I found myself much more attuned to the peaks and valleys in the marital relationship between Anne and Stephen as well as the interior thoughts of Anne as she approached middle age. Also, I had forgotten how lovely and wonderful the character of Turid was...
Jason Hall
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: catholic
It is not a quick read; the plot moves quite slowly. But, the characters are incredibly well-developed and the author, as usual, shows tremendous insight into human nature. A great story of the search for (and struggle with) faith during the course of a challenging life. O'Brien is perhaps the greatest Catholic novelist of our time.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 rating. Not quite as good as Island of the World, but it has the same beautiful writing style.
Christina Baker
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this one for Well-Read Mom...don't know if I would have ever picked up Michael O'Brien's work otherwise. The size of the tomes was just too intimidating, and I have never had a friend hand me one of his books and say, "You have to read this." I won't be doing that, either.
The story of Anne's life and her search for something greater - the reader knows it is God whom she seeks, but Anne takes a very long time to come around to this fact - is epic in scale. It contains some gems. I lo
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a sweeping, insightful portrait of life! As I cherish solitude and peace, I identify with Anne and Stephen. I appreciate the author's portraits of the pursuit of faith, the holy mystery of marriage, the quest for purpose, and the slow and steady realization of purpose fulfilled.

pg. 439-440: Ashley argues, "Nathaniel is going to be raised free. Free to think and be whatever he chooses. No one is going to mold him." "Everyone is molded," says his mother [Anne]. "We choose what to
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommend, favorites
This book was an internal book. Not much external action but it primarily chronicles the life of a woman and it is pretty amazing. Don't pick this up expecting a sequel to the apocalyptic excitement of "Father Elijah" though. Where the drive to read "Father Elijah" lies in the fast-paced adventure, in "Strangers and Sojourners" I was compelled forward in the hopes of discovering another of the many amazing points for personal mediation and reflection that O'Brien delivers! Highly recommended.
Regina Doman
Mar 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Truly marvelous book, marred only by a final chapter with a bizarre and totally unbelievable scene with a man trapped in a cave with a grizzly bear who is channeling Satan.

But the 99% rest of the book -- two wounded people who meet, marry, and live a marriage of solitude -- is heartbreakingly beautiful and well worth the read.
Miss Clark
3.5 stars

Best guess, I read this back in 2005, possibly 2004, and I was honestly a bit young to really appreciate it. I recall being distressed at the trials and problems between the couple, as well as the isolation that is inherent.

Excellent atmosphere and it gives an intimate illustration of one marriage, in all its beauty and tragedy.
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I read and loved O'Brien's Fr. Elijah and wanted more. I was so disappointed with this book. There was certainly some good points and a few interesting characters in it, but overall it was a let down.
Maurice Williams
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Michael D. O'Brien has created a fascinating set of novels describing what any of us might experience if we were to fall under the rule of Antichrist and be pulled into the war of all wars. Apocalyptic literature is today very popular and has been popular for some time. LaHaye and Jenkin's "Left Behind" series has sold over forty million copies and spun off two full-length movies. Hal Lindsey, in the 1970's wrote the best seller "The Late Great Planet Earth" and other titles and produced at leas ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"'It could be the fragility of glass...Behind which we all hide...There are those we encounter in life who possess the gift of reaching through our barriers. To touch.'
'And is there harm in that?' he wondered, holding her imperciptibly tighter in the big hands.
'No harm if we're not shattered', she said.
'But how would you know it's safe if you don't allow it to happen?'
'How can I allow it to happen if I don't know it's safe?...You will be hurt, she thought. You too will break a
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First, I have read conflicting reports on the order in which to read the books in this series. Here is what the author says on his website:

"Most of the novels can be read independently of the others. However, the first three listed below are best read in sequence since they deal with the saga of a single family, in order as follows:

1) Strangers and Sojourners (1997)
2) Eclipse of the Sun (1998)
3) Plague Journal (1999)

4) Father Elijah: an apocalypse 
Mary Dalton
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What appealed to me most about this book was its honesty in regards to the character of Anne. Some readers might not "get" her angst, but it was right on target in terms of getting into the mind of a sensitive woman with an intellectual bend, who finds herself in a remote area, surrounded by people who (mostly) don't understand her and married to a man of a very different background. Any person who has experienced even a little of this can relate to her situation.

As a Catholic writer
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a lot. There is a lot in it that is very good, but I honestly feel like there was a lot that wasn’t necessary. For such a long book that is so rich in detail, I was surprised that some of the characters felt pretty flat. For being a book abt conversion & faith by a catholic author, I was surprised that the sacraments played so small a role.

I feel like it is a book full of potential that was never properly edited, polished, or developed. The protagonist, a woman named Anne, is i
Keary Onken
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely amazing. It will break your heart, and take your breath away with how beautiful it can be.

To give a basic plot description would not do justice to it. In a way this book is bigger on the inside-- there is so much more going on beneath and beyond a basic plot description. A book of immense interiority, with great insights into our world and the human condition.

It is, among other things, a meditation on or reflection of chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation, and
Ian Mackay
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a phenomenal book. Apocalyptic but more than that, it serves as a bridge between the ordinary and the extraordinary. As a first novel it contains more of the author than any of his subsequent novels except perhaps (A cry of Stone).
The themes of the trilogy (Children of the Last Days) are all embedded in this story, linking them with the fabric of all lives and the story of humanity.
This may be read and re-read.

Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Although this book was well written, and contained some lovely passages, on the whole I struggled to enjoy it. I found that the breadth of the novel limited the depth of the characters. Bizarrely, given the many times we read descriptions of Anne’s thoughts, I still never really felt that I knew her deeply. Although there were many crises and dramas, I did not feel very invested in the story arc, and found it at times a little chaotic. Perhaps this is a genre that is just not my cup of tea!
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I have mixed feeling towards this story. For the most part I liked it and there were many parts that I loved but then the story would hit a lull and I would find myself drifting off until I hit the next interesting part. The story follows the life of a young English woman starting when she is very young. This is her journey in life and her struggle in a greater power.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful tale about an Indian artist's journey in Canada. "Beauty is like crying and laughing together." "Time is an illusion of the mind" "All history is revealed within the rules of children's games" "death was her first abstraction" "a man who sees only light will stumble over things that lie in the shadows." "It's gonna take somebody's blood on a Friday afternoon"
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
I thought this book was entertaining with a pretty interesting story line, and I liked some of the Catholic themes throughout the book. I heard great things about this book, but maybe I just don't read enough novels to fully appreciate it. It was worth reading but it wasn't amazing or anything.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Wonderful novel with beautiful prose. Thoroughly enjoyed O'Brien's unique ways of describing ordinary life. Only criticism is that too much of their later years of marriage were left out. I would have loved to read more of how their intimacy grew and changed.
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was well written and I did enjoy reading it, but I have not fully bought in. Characters and moments were not always fully developed, and the progression of the story is at times plodding. While I really liked parts of this story, on the whole I just found it ok.
Anna Schubert
Very possibly my favorite book so far this year. Well-written, thoughtful, moving, and very Catholic.
Kelsey Kersting
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was surprisingly hard to put down and the character development was excellent. A book that gives you the choice to think deeper about the current state of things, but reads easily.
Bette Genser
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Was pulled like magic in to this story found myself a sojourner
And was afraid to end it as a stranger
Aug 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: catholic
Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

The story of a seeker. Some beautiful stuff. But slow and at times just too strange or maybe mystical.
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Michael D. O'Brien is a Roman Catholic author, artist, and frequent essayist and lecturer on faith and culture, living in Combermere, Ontario, Canada.

Other books in the series

Children of the Last Days (7 books)
  • Eclipse of the Sun
  • Plague Journal (Children of the Last Days)
  • Father Elijah: An Apocalypse (Children of the Last Days #4)
  • Sophia House
  • A Cry of Stone
  • Elijah in Jerusalem
“[About the main character approaching death in old age, observed by her husband . . .] He saw that she had already laid down a large portion of her life long ago. Piece by piece she had given it away as she wrestled with existence, as her self was absorbed as nourishment into his life and the life of the children and the community. And laid down most piercingly, as she abandoned, one by one, the shapes of the dreams she had planned. Only to take them up again in other forms.” 11 likes
“The only indestructible palace is in the heart.” 8 likes
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