Published: 28/06/2014
ISBN: 9781783064069
eISBN: 9781783066858
Format: Paperback/eBook



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About the Author



Elizabeth Ellis grew up in Hertfordshire, has lived in various corners of England and spent several years in France. She studied English at college while training as a teacher and has worked in many f... read more

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Living with Strangers
by Elizabeth Ellis

“Fifteen years. I’d had no word from Josef in fifteen years. No word from him, hardly a word about him. And now this. All those long years of nothing, of not knowing.”

Living with Strangers is a family drama set in England, France and Germany between 1963 and 1978. It deals with loss and restitution in a family still haunted by the shadow of the Second World War and the effect this has on the decisions they are forced to make.

The story is told through the eyes of Madeleine Feldman, a young woman coming to terms with the loss of her brother who left home suddenly and mysteriously when she was 13. It is her rite of passage from early adolescence to adulthood. Madeleine is a strong, sympathetic protagonist, subjected to rejection and indifference at home and at school, whose life becomes a series of poor decisions and errors of judgement. An unexpected delivery one day results in a quest to locate her brother before their father dies...

The book deals with issues of inter-generational conflict, job security and single parenthood at a time when communication within a family was often poor, sexuality was a taboo subject and prejudice and intolerance were rife – all issues that still resonate today.

Part mystery, part memoir in style, Living With Strangers is a quiet, moving tale of a family’s struggle to reconnect. Elizabeth takes inspiration from a number of writers, including Penelope Lively, Anita Brookner, Emma Donoghue and Michele Roberts. This, her debut novel, will appeal mainly to women and to fans of fiction set in the recent past.

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Living with Strangers
Elizabeth Ellis

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I found it quite riveting and thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn’t put it down so read it in double quick time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it as a film before long.
Roy Eccles

A moving and poignant story that kept me enthralled to the dénouement – a ‘Leonard Cohen Story’. Lovely descriptive vocabulary.
Ian Mattingly


http://www.elizabethellis.co.uk

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4/5 stars, but a little long to get to the end of the story.

Review copy obtained through NetGalley.

by yvonne sickler


This is an excellent debut novel, which should appeal to fans of Emma Donoghue among others. Set in the recent past (1963-78) its main themes are loss, and lack of communication between generations.

The story is told through the eyes of Madeleine Feldman, who is trying to come to terms with the loss of her brother who left home in mysterious circumstances when Madeleine was thirteen. An unexpected delivery one day leads to a quest to find her brother before the death of their father.

This is a thought-provoking novel, and reading groups should find much in it to discuss. Readers who enjoy family dramas will find much to capture their interest in this work.

by Dorothy Calderwood


Living with Strangers tells the story of Madeleine after the disappearance of her beloved brother Josef when she is 13. Unable to discover why he has suddenly vanished, she drifts unhappily through jobs and relationships until her father’s imminent death forces her to confront her family and find out the truth.
Set in Britain, France and Germany during the 60s and 70s, the novel touches on several thought-provoking themes: the long shadow cast by World War Two, the dynamics of the dysfunctional family, the struggle to grow up and find a place in the world. The gentle pace of the story serves to emphasise Madeleine’s anchorless state, while Elizabeth Ellis’s writing creates the dream-like feeling of an interior monologue.
Cleverly, Ellis resists the temptation to create a Hollywood-style happy ending, and instead keeps a pleasing surprise or two up her sleeve for the book’s closing chapters. A thoughtful and absorbing novel which should appeal to readers of Anita Brookner and Salley Vickers.

by Alison Love


I really enjoyed this book even though, it wasn't the normal genre that I read. The way the author kept your attention and gave detail to the characters was amazing. Very good read, and I am glad I stepped out of my comfort zone of genre for this.

by Angie Parish


Interesting idea for a book, I love reading about this era. I usually like reading from two perspectives, or from two time periods, but in this I didn't think it was as well executed as it could have been. It did take me a little while to get through this book, whether I was in a reading slump in general or because of the book specifically I'm not sure. It didn't really set my imagination on fire. I do feel the final wrap-up could have been more detailed as more of a climax to the story than how it was wrapped up within a few paragraphs. Overall, a decent read. I haven't yet published a review of this on Goodreads, but plan to in the coming weeks.

by Rachel Doherty


 

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