Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gossip by Beth Gutcheon

I have been very busy lately, but still, I have been making time for reading. Many nights its not much more than a chapter, but there is something about the escape that reading provides that I feel even a few minutes is good for me.

Most recently, I finished reading Gossip by Beth Gutcheon. The blurb (teaser) on the back of the book definitely had me interested in reading more - you can read the full blurb here on the author's book page. "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."

The book felt like a study in characters. It started in what I believe is 'present day' and then took us back and forth through time to establish the connections that existed between Loviah "Lovie" French, Dinah Wainwright and Avis Metcalf. It allowed us to learn the story behind these women and their connection. Lovie is the central character that ties the others together. She met Dinah and Avis when they attended a boarding school together as children.

After school, while her friends go on to college, she finds a job working for a dressmaker Mme Philomena. As time progresses, we learn that Dinah becomes a gossip columnist and Lovie eventually owns her own dress shop. Lovie has a love interest, but we learn that he is married and that his wife will not grant him a divorce, so they carry on their relationship in stolen moments. In addition, since Avis and Dinah don't get along, she maintains each friendship in it's own silo.

Through many coincidences, it seems that Lovie always seems to be at a point of hearing, or overhearing gossip, some of it from her friends, some from her clients, and some in social settings. What she chooses to share or not to share is an exercise in curiosity and I find myself wondering sometimes, why would (or wouldn't) she share that with her friends. I imagine that as she has built many silos in her life maintaining her affair and her separate friendships, making sure everyone is protected, so she is able to keep the information bucketed and holds/shares it to protect them.

Because the book is focused on the development of the characters, it was a good book but not what I would call a page turner. The story did not draw me in, making me stay up too late to read just one more chapter, but the interesting characters and the author's development of them brought me back to learn more each evening. It was a book about the characters and the inner-connectedness of lives that makes even a big town seem small. It was a book about how sharing and not sharing gossip can impact the lives of the innocent.

There is a bit of a surprising event near the end of the book, but you'll have to read the book to find out exactly what the cost of gossip can be.

You can find the book at online retailers and your local bookshop. It is also available through the iBookstore. You can find links on the book's page.

No compensation was received for this post. A review copy of the book was provided for the purposes of sharing. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.