This book moves like a tunneling tornado. First we are in one decade with the main characters, then another. But wherever Beth Gutcheon decides to drop us down, there is always plenty of action, intrigue and emotional gut-punching. In short, GOSSIP is like its namesake --- a little bit toxic, but oh so interesting!
Lovie is the protagonist, a fancy dress shop owner on the tony Upper East Side of Manhattan. Her best friends are Avis and Dinah, who haven’t spoken to each other in years, despite being Lovie’s confidantes. Now they are being forced together by the marriage of Dinah’s favorite son to Avis’ only daughter. And as the couple’s marriage progresses, we see how Lovie has become for them what she has always been for their parents: a holder of great secrets.
"This book moves like a tunneling tornado. First we are in one decade with the main characters, then another. But wherever Beth Gutcheon decides to drop us down, there is always plenty of action, intrigue and emotional gut-punching. In short, GOSSIP is like its namesake --- a little bit toxic, but oh so interesting!"
Dinah and Avis are very different characters, and Lovie’s relationship with them is a dynamic and lively collaboration. I think the most interesting thing that Gutcheon does is explore their modes of mothering and finding the ways in which their differences can cause even greater rifts among the long-time associates.
Lovie explains what a “gossip” is, historically, to the readers, and it’s not what we would expect. A “gossip” was one who “stood godparent” to a child --- and the “gossiping” would be chatter between both godparents, discussing and worrying over their charge. Lovie is Dinah’s son’s godmother, and she takes the role quite seriously. She has no children of her own and approaches her relationship with Nicky the way a real mother would. Lovie can fill in the blanks in his parenting when his mother is caught up in her own dramas at different points in her life.
The book spans from the turbulent ’60s to post-9/11 New York. And through it all, the women are living lives that are much more than fodder for idle “gossip” as we know it exists among the rich and privileged. It’s this dramatic course on which Gutcheon sets sail, giving us three complex women with complex lives and then a whole new generation that is affected by their complexities. Powerful and interesting stuff, indeed.
With an explosive ending you won’t see coming, GOSSIP captures so much about what it means to be a contemporary woman, albeit one with means. The emotional journey the characters take will resonate with females of all ages, since friendship, motherhood and aging are always fraught with times good and bad.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on April 27, 2012
- Publication Date: March 5, 2013
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
- ISBN-10: 0061931438
- ISBN-13: 9780061931437