Beth Gutcheon has written a smart new novel about friendship, trust, motherhood, fidelity and betrayal. GOSSIP is one of the best books I’ve read so far this season.
Focusing in on three women who meet in boarding school as teenagers, Gutcheon manages to artfully capture each of their psyche. We follow Loviah, Dinah, and Avis through their teen years, and into middle age.
This contemporary story is full of real life situations. Written with depth and a keen sense of awareness, most women will be able to relate to all or some portion of this book. We have each experienced some sort of fall- out from gossip; some more than others. This telling goes a bit farther. How many lives will be devastated? What makes one person able to sustain torturous rumor, while another can brush it off, almost anonymously?
Lovie, Dinah, and Avis are as different as night and day. Avis is refined, dignified, and quiet. Dinah is extremely outgoing, loud, and bigger than life. Lovie, is quite simply, the glue that brings Dinah and Avis back together after years of being estranged. Estranged over an imagined slight, no less.
While Lovie owns an upscale dress chop catering to the very rich in Manhattan, Dinah writes for several social columns in the city. And Avis deals in art. Gutcheon skillfully weaves a mesmerizing story that rolls along and gathers steam like a locomotive. I had to slow myself down several times to keep from finishing too soon.
Most of the novel takes place in the mid 1900’s, then begins galloping through 9/11, which is adeptly placed. We grow with these characters. We get married with two of them. We are with them as they start their families. And we get to know their children and follow them as they grow up. I felt close to these characters and wished to protect them.
The author has shown us how the characters lived their lives, either simply or richly. A lazy Sunday afternoon reading a good book and enjoying morning coffee is something that keeps them real. And when they experience tragedy, well, so do we.
There were several utterly astounding events in this book. I was caught unawares. And I loved that. It is part of what makes Gutcheon such a unique and masterful writer. She is the master of character development.
To wrap it up, I will say that the women featured here are so real that you feel you might know them. The men are depicted thoroughly, and come off so realistically that at times I did wonder who they were tailored after.
I so got caught up in these lives. At times, I could have strangled Lovie. And I wanted to stick a pin in Avis. And, Dinah, I really wanted to tell her to shut up. But I loved this book. And I can’t wait for Beth Gutcheon to write another.
Thanks to the generous people at Harper Collins for sending me an advanced reading copy! I love you guys.