Welcome Home, Stranger
—San Francisco Chronicle
Few writers have a wit as razor sharp as Kate Christensen’s . . . . Her new novel follows an environmental journalist as she returns to her small Maine hometown after the death of her mother, and grapples with grief, family, and aging. I would trust no less deft a hand than Christensen’s to manage the balance of humor, devastation, and squabbling.
A satisfying, intimate novel about complicated people at middle age, coming to terms with lost love, and the ghosts who shaped your life.
Kate Christensen’s new novel, Welcome Home, Stranger, is a revelation, offering characters as real as your family and friends, a rich, vividly drawn setting, grab-you-by-the-throat drama and always, lurking in the shadows, a fierce authorial intelligence. What more could you ask?
Rachel Calloway is a compelling heroine for the present moment—angry, honest, independent, witty, brilliant, and in pain. She sometimes makes impulsive choices, but her integrity is always intact. This is the most contemporary novel I have ever read, and I immersed myself in Rachel‘s Portland, Maine, her family and friends, her knowledge of coming climate catastrophes, and her confusion about where home is for her. Then suddenly, I realized that I was reading about the entire human condition, portrayed in crystal sentences I will return to many times. Welcome Home, Stranger is a novel for now and for the ages. Brava, Kate Christensen. —
This snarky, vulnerable, complicated main character feels so real, you’ll swear you actually know her.
Kate Christensen has a genius for capturing the interiority of intimacy, the aromatics of place, the closest connections among couples, families, neighbors, rivals.
Christensen skillfully portrays the issues at play in many families: there are deep bonds, but also deep resentments, ‘volcanic’ emotions, and decades-old misunderstandings. The character Lucie, an immature, thwarted tyrant, is particularly well drawn. Readers in search of an engrossing family drama will find much to like.
Reading Kate Christensen’s incisive eighth novel, a quote from 19th century author Ivan Turgenev came to mind: ‘A poet must be a psychologist.’ As evidenced in her previous works, Christensen is both. Her prose glimmers and glints, more sensation than exposition, whether she’s shining her light on broken family, broken dreams or our broken Earth. In this short but mighty novel, Christensen does a psychologist’s job with a poet’s lyrical pen.
Christensen is a psychological Geiger-counter, registering every particle of emotion; a wizard at dialogue and redolent settings, and an intrepid choreographer of confoundment. From gasp-inducing absurdities and betrayals to a profound sense of our paralysis in the glare of climate change to a full-on embrace of family, love, home, and decency, Christensen’s whirligig tale leaves readers dizzy with fresh and provocative insights.
A fantastic study in loss—the grief kind and the yearning too, oh my god the yearning! Plus menopause. Plus Portland, Maine. I loved it.
To the great literature of going home again we can now add Kate Christensen’s superb new novel Welcome Home, Stranger, a triumph of intelligence and wit (which will surprise none of her many fans). The prodigal here is a brilliant journalist grieving the loss of a very difficult mother while attempting peace with those she left behind: a resentful sister and an ex-lover who can be neither trusted nor forgotten. A spellbinding book from one of our best chroniclers of the very American struggle to strive for excellence while still living in community with others.