Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Today: Gossip by Beth Gutcheon

Beth Gutcheon’s ninth novel is rock solid, old-school character driven storytelling. Readers who recall and enjoyed the best of Judith Krantz and Erica Jong will appreciate Gutcheon’s voice and stance in Gossip (William Morrow), a novel that explores the reaches and holds of friendship. How we gain it, how we hang to it and how, under the right circumstances -- or the wrong ones -- we can exploit it. Gutcheon’s human portraits are so deft and familiar that it’s not always a comfortable ride.

Four well-heeled Manhattan matrons who met at boarding school in the 1960s are the central focus of Gossip. Much of the action takes place or is recounted at a high end dress shop on the Upper East Side owned by Lovie Walker. Lovie narrates and guides us on a journey through her friend’s lives. The device of Lovie’s interested voice and perspective really works here as she has both access and interest as well as a likable voice. She’s someone you don’t mind spending time with because, before very long you’re engrossed in Gossip and spending time in the company of Lovie and friends doesn’t seem much like work, at all.

Though a murder takes place in Gossip, this is nothing at all like a mystery and though there are suspenseful moments throughout the book, neither is it romantic suspense. Gutcheon seems to use the device of an old friendship and the ties that have bound it and the boundaries that contain it… or do not.

Gutcheon’s many fans will recognize her stellar prose but might be pleasantly surprised by Gossip even so. Critics are calling this Gutcheon’s best book yet. ◊

Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.

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Anonymous Shelley said...

You had me at "old-school."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 8:37:00 AM PDT  

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