Friday, March 30, 2012

Gossip by Beth Gutcheon

Gossip, by Beth Gutcheon, is a novel surrounding a group of well to do friends living in Manhattan's Upper East Side.  The story is told from the view point of Lovie, an unmarried, sixty-something high end boutique owner.  Without a family of her own, Lovie considers her two best friends and their children her family.  Dinah is a well known and equally high maintenance gossip columnist/author/aspiring chef.  Quiet and dignified Avis is a successful high end art dealer.  In these three women Gutcheon is able to spin a realistic story about life, love, loss, and the everyone's ever present enemy- gossip.

Gutcheon begins her story in present day New York with Lovie working in her store.  Hiding Dinah in another room so that the New York gossip mongers and press leave her alone, Lovie begins flashing back to when she, Dinah, and Avis attended the same boarding school.  Lovie and Dinah were friends from the start.  However, Lovie and the older Avis did not grow close until adulthood.  With that said, Avis and Dinah were never friends.  It was during Avis's marriage to an alcoholic that Lovie really began to cherish her friendship with Avis.  While remaining unmarried, Lovie watched as Dinah and Avis had children of their own.  She became the Godmother to Dinah's little Nicky and was just as close to Avis's Grace.

It took me a little while to find my footing with Gossip.  It was hard for me to follow the flashbacks involving many unfamiliar characters right off the get go.  However, I'm glad I did not give up because Gossip had quietly hooked me by the time I read further into the novel- to the point that I didn't want to put it down.  Yes, that was me running on the treadmill at the gym reading this book.  Gutcheon did a great job in creating realistic and 3 dimensional characters.  I may not live the New York lifestyle as her characters, but I can still relate to their hopes, dreams, and nightmares.

Gutcheon triumphantly tackles many issues including September 11th, death, affairs, alcoholism, the recession and of course gossip.  The way Gutcheon wrote about September 11th particularly captivated me.  Dinah's ex-husband worked in the World Trade Center and because of being late he was not yet to work that morning.  However, he was in the middle of the chaos and Gutcheon does a fabulous job of describing not only his feelings, but also those of his children and ex-wife before they knew he was out of harms way.  In Gossip, the whole climate of the upper class transitioned from that of 'living the good life' to being face planted back into reality.

I was shocked when I read the ending of Gossip.  It takes a lot to catch me off guard, but Gutcheon was able to pull it off.  She definitely throws her readers for a loop with the conclusion of her novel.  I recommend Gossip to readers young and old.  In it you will find a heart warming and wrenching tale of life.  

William Morrow Publishers and has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, Gossip, for the purpose of review.