Title: Gossip by Beth Gutcheon
Imprint: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through Edelweiss
The critically acclaimed author of Good-bye and Amen, Leeway Cottage, and More Than You Know returns with a sharply perceptive and emotionally resonant novel about the power of knowing things about others, the consequences of rumor, and the unexpected price of friendship.
Loviah “Lovie” Walker owns a small, high-end dress shop on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Renowned for her taste, charm, and discretion, it is Lovie to whom certain women turn when they need “just the thing” for key life events: baptisms and balls, weddings and funerals. Among those who depend on Lovie’s sage advice are her two best friends since boarding school days: Dinah Wainwright and Avis Metcalf. Despite the love they share for their mutual friend, there has always been a chilly gulf between Dinah and Avis, the result of a perceived slight from decades ago that has unimaginably tragic echoes many years later.
An astute chronicler of all that makes us human, Beth Gutcheon delivers her most powerful and emotionally devastating novel to date. Gossip is a tale of intimacy and betrayal, trust and fidelity, friendship and motherhood that explores the way we use “information”-be it true, false, or imagined-to sustain, and occasionally destroy, one another.
Beth Gutcheon’s Gossip is a beautifully written novel that follows the ups and downs of Avis, Dinah and Lovie’s lifelong friendship. From their teen years at boarding school through middle age, these three extraordinary women share all of life’s joys and sorrows.
Although Lovie French, Dinah Wainwright and Avis Metcalf come from three divergent backgrounds they enjoy a lasting friendship. Lovie is close friends with both women over the years. Avis and Dinah’s friendship is uneasy and complicated by their social differences and complex family dynamics. Lovie’s loyalties are often tested as Avis and Dinah’s lives become irrevocably intertwined.
Although Gossip is told in first person from Lovie’s perspective, she is an enigmatic character who is content to keep her own secrets closely guarded while she easily reveals details of everyone else’s lives. Never married, she is deeply involved with Avis and Dinah’s families.
Dinah is flamboyant and full of life. She effortlessly reinvents herself time and time again. Although she appears happy, she finds it difficult to forgive and she harbors resentment and bitterness toward some of the key people in her life.
Avis is reserved and quite proper. A product of her privileged upbringing, she is the picture of decorum no matter how difficult the situation. Although she appears cool and indifferent, she is actually quite warm and caring. Her extended family is quite close to both Dinah and Lovie and they share a close bond.
Throughout the course of the novel, Ms. Gutcheon demonstrates the destructive nature of gossip. Lovie is often the recipient of slanderous comments about her friends and she finds herself with the unenviable quandary of how to handle the various situations. Innocent remarks are turned into small yet vicious actions that culminate in an unimaginable and horrifying event that no one could envision.
Gossip is an engaging story that is quite compelling. The characters are vibrant and true to life. Beth Gutcheon brilliantly foreshadows a tragic event but the novel’s ending is quite shocking and unexpected. Definitely a must read for anyone who enjoys a book about close friendships that stand the test of time.