Michael Farris Smith
The Hands of Strangers
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This masterful novella by critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith explores the human spirit and its capacity for faith and forgiveness in an imperfect world. Jon and Estelle walk the picturesque Paris streets but are living through the cruelest of realities, the disappearance of their nine-year-old daughter, Jennifer, abducted from the Musee d’Orsay during a class field trip. Jon spends his days slugging through bus terminals and metro halls, posting flyers of his daughter, while Estelle has become a recluse, unwilling to leave the apartment in case the telephone rings. Their relationship suffers as the passing time chips away at the hope of Jennifer’s return. Then, a free-spirited artist enters their lives as unexpectedly as Jennifer has left it, luring Jon down a reckless path as he searches desperately for courage in the smallest signs. If their daughter is ever returned to them, will Jon and Estelle both be there to welcome her home?
Praise for The Hands of Strangers
A fantastic debut . . . Smith eloquently captures the damaged souls of two people crumbling under the weight of uncertainty and waning hope. In this anxiety-ridden little gem, Smith captures the essence of the helpless, making more of an impact than most novels three times its size.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
In the end, as with any tragedy, there are questions that remain unanswered, and the reader is left to wonder along with Jon and Estelle. What we don’t have to wonder about, though, is Smith’s talent: The Hands of Strangers is a strong novella from a talented and intuitive writer.
—The Summerset Review
The influence of Hemingway lingers in the present-day Paris of The Hands of Strangers, but Smith’s writing is strong enough to hold its own within that giant shadow. This is a bracing story of the quotidian hell of grief and loss, with hope glimmering, faintly, over the horizon. Which is to say, a book you will not be able to put down.
—Matthew Guinn, Edgar-nominated author of The Resurrectionist and The Scribe