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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I don't recall where I first came across Beth Gutcheon - her books aren't easy to find in the UK. But I must have liked the look of her books - I have Still Missing and The New Girls on my bookshelves. At last I've got round to reading one of her books, Gossip, recently released in the UK - and I hope we'll be seeing the release of her back catalogue to follow, because this one was really excellent.

The narrator is Loviah ("Lovie") French who runs a small dress shop in Manhattan catering for an exclusive clientele. The story begins in her boarding school days, where she first encounters the other two main characters - Avis, a little older than her and a little restrained, now working as an art buyer, and the irrepressible and sometimes acerbic Dinah, a newspaper columnist. Avis and Dinah have history - a relatively insignificant social faux pas in their school days that has shaped their perceptions of each other - and Lovie forms a bridge and buffer between her two very different friends. The book follows the lives of the three women from boarding school days, through family and personal dramas for all three of them, covering a period from the 1960s to post 9/11, and is a thoroughly absorbing read.

Lovie is a fascinating character - she has her own secrets, which emerge as the story progresses, and tells the story in a flowing style which directly addresses the reader as if you are also fortunate enough to be her friend. There is much sadness through the pages, dreadful betrayal, lives destroyed, cruelty through speech and action, but also a light and gentle humour. Essentially a story about enduring female friendship, vividly portrayed with a depth of domestic and social detail, the book illustrates the ways in which information about others can sometimes be used to destroy them.

The main criticism I've seen of this book is that it's "too American", and that absolutely amazes me. This is a book firmly anchored in its setting, a richly drawn background with an astonishing depth of detail, and a world with social rights and wrongs on which the twists and turns of the story depend. I found that totally fascinating.

A clever and immensely readable book, and I do hope we'll be seeing Beth Gutcheon's books becoming more readily available here as word about this one spreads.
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on 2 May 2013
I take on board and partly agree with everything positive and negative the other reviewers have said. This IS a book about annoyingly rich Americans, and it does meander a little, but the story is about human relationships, which tend to meander, and the wealth of the main protagonists is surely part of the story - the narrator's livelihood is to 'serve' these people and that ties into her ambivalent role in the story. I loved this book so much I re-read it after a few weeks and I envy anyone who has still to read it. But in a way, it's a book which has to be re-read, because so many clues are dropped along the way. This book describes everything - clothes, houses and food - in a richly evocative way, but leaves a lot unsaid about emotions, and that is what makes it such a rewarding read. It wasn't until I read it the second time that I realized what a tragic character the narrator, Loviah, was, and how all her rich friends and acquaintances used her - with her full consent of course, which makes it even sadder. The story asks what all good fiction asks - how should live be lived? It invites us, ultimately to judge between the apparently cold, controlled person and the apparently warm, manipulative one, and to appreciate the moral dilemma of the person caught in between. But there's a lot more to the book than this. This is the best book I've read so far this year and I would heartily recommend it,
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Loviah French, or 'Lovie' as she is known, is piggy-in-the-middle. She met and made friends with both Dinah and Avis when they all attended the same boarding school back in 1960. Dinah and Avis are worlds apart, and can't stand each other, yet both of them are great friends to Lovie.

The story is set in New York and is told in the voice of a now middle-aged Lovie. Lovie is looking back on her friendship with the other two women and Gutcheon's tells the story of how they all grew to be the women they are today ... except for one thing .... the reason that Lovie is telling their story, and something that is not revealed to the reader until the very end of the story.

Beth Gutcheon is not a thrilling author, she doesn't shock or dismay, but she has a beautiful style that is both gentle and funny. Her insight into the often complicated world of female friendships is so precise and can be both satisfyingly familiar to the reader and also a little reminder of how friends can often cause the deepest of wounds.

Three women, all so very different, yet all with their own compelling voice. I am really not surprised that Beth Gutcheon has had such success in her native America if her novels are all as well written as Gossip - I really hope that she has as much success here in the UK.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This meandering novel tells the story of Loviah French, who owns a dress shop in Manhattan catering to the rich and famous, and her two best friends Dinah Wainwright and Avies Binney. The three met at boarding school although it is Loviah who ties them together. Dinah is a spiky gossip columnist and Avies a prominent figure in the art world, from an impeccable family background. This is the story of their lives, told through marriages, affairs, divorce, children, careers and world events. For much of the book Loviah keeps her relationship with each of her friends separate, until events mean that she has to mediate between them.

Although this is a gentle read, concerning personal relationships rather than an action packed plot, it certainly does not lack depth or interest. I found myself really drawn to Loviah and her friends and family. The author creates a world of believable characters you care about and the ending certainly packs a real punch. I really enjoyed this novel and was sad when it ended. Beth Gutcheon has written many books, although only this one is currently available on kindle in the UK at the moment. I hope that her publishers make her back catalogue more readily available here as I would love to read more of her work. This book would also be ideal for reading groups, with loads to discuss and characters you will sympathise with and relate to.
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on 26 June 2014
Gossip is a book that I probably wouldn't have picked for the blurb on the back alone but I did like the cover and felt that this would have pushed me into buying it.

To be honest I didn't really connect with the book; I found there was little to keep me interested, the characters were flat and I found it hard to relate to them, the story line was very slow and I really struggled to keep up with what was going on with all the jumping about in the past and present. It felt a confusing read not one that I particularly enjoyed.

The story is about three women who all went to an elite high school; Lovie who is now in her sixties is the narrator who owns a high end clothing store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan where she is privy to a lot of gossip from her very high profile clientele. She remains friends with two particular girls from her high school days, Avis and Dinah. Avis is the eldest of the three and is more genteel and refined than the others and ends up marrying a man older than herself and has a daughter Grace. She appear to be more concerned in a career than bonding with her daughter Grace. When Grace and Nicky get married Lovie has to play the go between watching what she says and to whom she says it to is difficult for Lovie.

Dinah is quite a different character, loud, in your face, a fun person who people find they are irresistibly drawn to. She has two sons but dotes on one son, Nicky. Her other son RJ is settled and happily married but it is Nicky that she worries and frets over and she is desperate for him to make something of his life. Add to the mix his marriage to Grace Avis' daughter and the friends lives become ever more tangled.
The basis for a good story was there but I really never felt a connection with the characters, some of the descriptive passages were good and showed Gutcheon's skill at writing but overall it was just a little lack lustre for me. It felt that it wasn't really going anywhere and got a little bit boring which made it difficult to stay with until the end. To be honest it left me a little flat, I am not really sure what the point of the novel was other than perhaps you should be careful with secrets and who you share them with - no pizzazz for me, like a damp squib. I can only really justify giving this 2.5 stars - in a word - disappointing.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really like this author. I read "Still Missing" Still Missing, an earlier novel of hers and loved it. I have now bought three other of her novels and look forward to reading them.
Yet this one, Gossip is not a book I can love, though I did enjoy it.
I think the problem for me is twofold. One it is very very American. Too many references that are not meaningful to me. So I cannot engage fully.
Secondly, something is missing.. any kind of emotional connection to the characters never happens, which weakened the ending for me. Also I was never able to visualise the characters despite all the other detail.

It is written in the first person by Loviah, or Lovie, works for herself owning a boutique dress shop in Manhattan, where she dresses very rich women, some of whom she went to boarding school with.
Dinah, and Avis are two of her best friends from that time. They do not like each other but are united by their friendship with Lovie.
The novel travels through the decades recording the lives of these three in a way that you feel as if you are being kept up to date with the latest gossip on someone you know. Except of course you don't.

What I like best is the actual writing. The tiny details of places, meals, who said what, and most of all the thoughts Lovie keeps to herself. These are what make the read enjoyable.
Recommended, though it won't blow your socks off, and I recommend her other novels.
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on 24 July 2013
THE 2ND BOOK OF HERS I'VE READ AND AGAIN THE NARRATIVE IS LOVELY…I WISH THE ENDING MATCHES THE WHOLE OF THE BOOK - BUT DO READ IT AS IT IS A SENSITIVE INSIGHT INTO COMPLEX PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS. I HAVE JUST ORDERED THE WHOLE OF HER WRITING AS I RATE HER STYLE SO MUCH. HAPPY READING
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on 16 November 2014
A terrific holiday read, the more interesting because it reflects attitudes among a certain type of woman in the sixties and seventies in the US rather than here At first the storyline seems predictable but there are some interesting twists. A woman's book I would say.
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on 19 August 2014
Don't expect the smutty gossip of today, this is a book of yesteryear. Not a word is wasted, a quiet, descriptive book that takes it's time. I doubt this author will ever disappoint, I hope not, I've bought eight more of hers, sitting, waiting to be read.
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on 25 January 2015
My all time favourite book is Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon and although I found Gossip mildly interesting it does not anywhere near compete with Still Missing
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