A Familiar Stranger – A.R. Torre

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 290
Release Date: September 27, 2022

Such a quiet and ordinary wife and mother. Who will even notice what she’s done?

Lillian Smith leads an unexceptional life, writing obituaries and killing time with her inattentive husband and disconnected son. Then she meets David, a handsome stranger, in a coffee shop. Lured into an affair, she invents a new persona, one without strings, deadlines, or brooding husbands.

Lillian has never felt so reckless, unpredictable, or wanted. But as her affair with David intensifies, she withdraws from everything that’s real, even her closest friend. When evidence of her life as a secret lover finds its way onto her son’s social media, she risks ruining much more than her marriage or reputation.

As lies beget lies, Lillian’s two worlds spiral dangerously out of control. And betrayals run deeper than she imagines. Because Lillian isn’t the only one leading a double life.


I was loving A Familiar Stranger until the 60% mark. It had Gone Girl-esque vibes and an unreliable narrator. Unfortunately, the story takes a turn for the worse then doubles down until the end.

A Familiar Stranger follows Lillian as she meets David and starts an affair that unravels her life. 

Lillian is a difficult character to like at times. She’s inconsistent and flighty, but she’s also weighed down by her marriage making her feel desperate to break out. All of these traits lead her to read as unreliable as the perspective she paints isn’t always fully truthful.

Lillian’s husband has a few chapters that make it clear Lillian isn’t married to who she thinks she is married to, making readers question whether their initial impression of Lillian. 

At the 60% mark something happens that changes the course of the novel for what would seem like for the better, but Torre’s choices for the final 40% are the reason I rated the novel three stars instead of four.

I’m going to be as vague as possible, so if this doesn’t make sense, bear with me. The final 40% introduces multiple perspectives that didn’t need to be included considering another choice Torre made regarding the narrative. The reveals around Lillian’s husband were just plain stupid.

However, I did enjoy the final reveal even if it didn’t feel fully earned.

Overall, A Familiar Stranger started out well but faltered in its conclusion. I wish Torre would have made different choices after the 60% mark because I probably would have ended up rating this five stars.

*** I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Will you be reading A Familiar Stranger?

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