Louise Dean

Becoming Strangers

Louise Dean author

Becoming Strangers

After more than half a century of marriage, Dorothy and George are embarking on their first journey abroad together. Three decades younger, Jan and Annemieke are taking their last, as illness and incompatibility bring their unhappy union to an end. At first the luxury of a Caribbean resort is no match for the well-worn patterns of domestic life. Then the couples' paths cross, and a series of surprises ensues--a disappearance and an assault, most dramatically, but also a teapot tempest of passions, slights, misunderstandings, and small awakenings that punctuate a week in which each pair struggles to come to terms with what's been keeping them apart. 

A hit with readers and critics alike when it was published, Becoming Strangers is a different kind of love story, in which there's seldom a happy ending but sometimes a chance to redeem a life half-lived. 

Longlisted for the Man Booker prize. Winner of The Betty Trask Prize. Winner of Le Prince Maurice. Nominated for The Guardian First Book Award. Longlisted for IMPAC. Named by The Observer and The Independent as one of the best books of the year.

'Remarkably moving. The first half [of the book] is a fine display of economic writing, never wasting a word and yet revealing a wealth of emotion, history, and desire. It reads like mature Anne Tyler . . . The second half, as the action accelerates, is even better, both page-turning and heart-breaking. This is the sort of book that makes you want to immediately go back to page one and start again . . . One of the best books of the year.'The Independent.

'Quite exceptional . . . There aren’t many first-time novelists I’d dare to compare to Alan Bennett, but Louise Dean has his wicked yet empathetic eye, his ear for pathos, and his almost supernatural talent for observing and measuring the comedy and tragedy of ordinary, heartfelt lives.' The Guardian

‘Very accomplished . . . Dean has a deliciously lucid and seemingly effortless style, as well as the gift of being able to write about each character from the inside, making their motives and actions clear. She has an unerring ear for dialogue, particularly between married couples . . . An exceptionally enjoyable book.’ Daily Mail

‘The best book in its genre that I have read in a long time’ Jenni Murray, Woman’s Hour

‘Both heartbreaking and thrilling. Dean deserves a huge readership’ The Times

‘All her characters are perfectly conceived, their inner dialogues spot on, her observations so sharp they make you wince’ Time Out

'I read Becoming Strangers with pleasure and admiration.' J.M.Coetzee.

'Breathtaking . . . Dean crafts a gut-wrenching tale of marital recklessness and guilt that is reminiscent of John Updike at his most masterful . . . Becoming Strangers is poignant, authentic, funny and extraordinary. For Dean, it marks the beginning of what promises to be a spectacular career.' San Francisco Chronicle

'Dean peels back the skin of these marriages with an unflinching lack of sentimentality and an immense talent for close observation and evocative, often poetic detail. She can reach straight into a character’s heart . . . The ending is unexpected, yet entirely deserved. Dean has produced an ideal novel.' The Atlantic Monthly

‘It’s quite hard to put into words the special qualities of this novel, although you feel these at once when you begin to read it. A very accomplished piece of writing.’ Helen Dunmore 

‘I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. In the end, I was so uplifted, I did both’ Julie Myerson

'Dean handles the expanding roster of characters effortlessly . . . She seems to eye them all from a distance, waiting patiently for them to reveal themselves.' The New York Times Book Review