The Stranger She Knew

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Pub Date 07 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 02 Aug 2022

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Shortlisted for the Paul Torday Memorial Prize 2020

‘A tense page-turning thriller…powerful’ The Times

‘A masterful feat of storytelling’ Tim Pears, author of The West Country trilogy

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As a young woman, May found that sometimes it was easier to say nothing and cope with what life threw at her in silence. Now, decades later, May has suffered a stroke and has lost her ability to speak. She is still as sharp as ever, but only her daughter and a new friend from the care home, see this.

When May discovers that someone very familiar, from long ago, is living in the room opposite hers she is haunted by scenes from her earlier life. May is determined to protect everyone from this new threat, but how can she warn them without her voice? And who really is this man charming everyone in May’s life?

Tense, powerful and unnerving, The Stranger She Knew is a mystery that will surprise and shock you. It is an insightful portrait of a woman who refuses to remain silent, even when no one will listen.

* An earlier edition of this book was published with the title Hello, My Name is May *

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Readers highly recommend The Stranger She Knew:

‘A masterpiece of tension . . . Highly recommended’

‘[A book] I found hard to put down . . . a recommended read’

‘I dived in without knowing much about the story and I ended up loving it. It was one the best reads

‘I wasn't able to put it down once I started it and I certainly wasn't expecting the ending. I shall be recommending this book’

Shortlisted for the Paul Torday Memorial Prize 2020

‘A tense page-turning thriller…powerful’ The Times

‘A masterful feat of storytelling’ Tim Pears, author of ...

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EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9780008523862
PRICE $12.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 18 members

Featured Reviews

What a wonder thriller! Divine details, devilish twists, characters that make me shiver.
Great book. Kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to keep reading as fast as i could to find out what was going to happen. Excellent book!

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The Stranger She Knew
by Rosalind Stopps

I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review .
This was a wonderfully written book. I found it to be hard to put down. What a tense, breathtaking book.

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I was taken aback at first. This book has a style all its own. In fact, it's written like nothing else I've ever read, so it took a bit of getting used to. But it wasn't long before I was totally sucked in. May, the main character, is in a care facility after having a stroke that left her mostly paralyzed and unable to talk. It's unique to get her point of view. Then the story switches to her past, years ago while she was pregnant with her daughter who is now in her forties. Her story, in both timelines, tumbles slowly but surely into darkness and mystery. The ending was a shock.

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This book was told from the viewpoint of the protagonist, May, after she suffered a stroke and was sent to a nursing home because she was unable to communicate or care for herself.
The novel goes between the present and May's memories of earlier times when she was young.
May is married to Alain, pregnant with their daughter, and living in shared housing. Alain promises that they are moving, because he was offered a new job with the Welsh Film Board as a translator. May never knew Alain spoke Welsh, doesn't know why it never came up.
Alain tells May that the job fell through but was there ever really a job? Alain is very secretive and particular, May tries her hardest to be what he wants, who he wants. Soon, the insults start, the mental cruelty, the physical abuse, Jenny has no one to turn to nowhere to go, and she can't fight back.
May finds a friend in town, Helen, who is single and pregnant. Helen sees the marks on May's arms, hears what May isn't willing to say. As time passes and their friendship grows, Helen pushes May to let her help, to have May come and stay with her and her baby.
Helen and her baby end up dead, was it Alain? The abuse intensifies and the tension and anxiety for the reader intensifies too.
While May is recuperating she notices a new resident named Bill across the hall from her.
Bill is very private, but he keeps looking in at May when the staff isn't watching. Bill looks familiar, has mannerisms that May finds familiar but her brain is so fuzzy. Why is this new resident so interested in May? Why does he seem so menacing? It couldn't be Alain, because Alain is dead, because May killed him, or did she?
I gave this book 4 stars, because of the subject matter and the protagonist. I found it hard to read about the mental and physical anguish that May endured, and also found myself disliking May's inability to leave an abusive relationship even after multiple offers of help.
I know these situations go on daily, but it's hard to find pleasure in reading about them.
The book was exceptionally well written, the characters were very well developed and I felt like I was right there in the book too. Mental illness, drug abuse, physical and mental abuse are difficult topics, but the book was very good.

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This is a thrilling read. May is the kind of character you want to hug. The villain is as scary as they get. The story jumps back in forth in time but easy to follow. I was flooded with a mix of emotions and questions. It kept me holding my Kindle tightly!

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