‘Friends and Strangers’ by Courtney Sullivan

‘Friends and Strangers’ by Courtney Sullivan

WHO: J. Courtney Sullivan

a novel

WHEN: Published by Knopf June 30, 2020

WHERE: The author lives in Brooklyn.

WHY: “A deeply personal yet profound exploration of motherhood, friendships, and the role of privilege in determining how we shape our lives.”
—Carol Gladstein, BOOKLIST

“Intimate and incisive…Readers will be captivated by Sullivan’s authentic portrait of modern motherhood.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“This perceptive novel about a complex friendship
between two women resonates as broadly as it does deeply.

“Elisabeth has just moved with her husband, Andrew, and baby, Gil, from brownstone Brooklyn to a remote college town 250 miles away — or as she tells her New York City friends, upstate, ‘but not, like, cool upstate.’ A successful journalist and author, she misses her old friends and community — although she still compulsively devours the postings on her old neighborhood parent listserv — and hasn’t been able to compel herself to make new ones, secretly suspecting she won’t like the other women in her town.
“Eventually she finds a confidante and companion in Sam, a student at the nearby women’s college whom she hires as Gil’s babysitter. Unlike Elisabeth, who comes from a family as wealthy and privileged as it is dysfunctional, Sam, an aspiring artist with an older British boyfriend who may be a threat to her career ambitions, comes from a big, warm, middle-class family and is funding her college education through a scholarship, a cafeteria work-study job, student loans, and off-campus child care work. The inequity in the two women’s relationship and status is mostly lost on Elisabeth but not on Sam. But Sam, who finds common cause with Elisabeth’s father-in-law in fighting for the overlooked and economically disadvantaged, has her own blind spots in relation to the women she works alongside in her dorm cafeteria. When both Elisabeth and Sam meddle in other people’s lives with the best intentions, well, suffice it to say that things don’t go precisely as they had hoped.
“Sullivan, whose bestselling work includes Saints for All Occasions, writes with empathy for her characters even as she reveals their flaws and shortcomings. And while the story she tells focuses primarily on two women from different backgrounds and at different stages of life, it also illuminates broader issues about money, privilege, and class; marriage, family, and friendship; and the dueling demands of career and domesticity with which many women struggle.” —KIRKUS, a starred review

Jacket photo

Media Resources:
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395 pages. $27.95
ISBN 978-0-525-52059-7

To interview the author, contact: Emily Reardon | 212-572-2018 | ereardon@penguinrandomhouse.com