More Than You Know

Beth Gutcheon, Author William Morrow & Company $24 (269p) ISBN 978-0-688-17403-3
It's a rare author who can combine a humdinger of a ghost tale with a haunting story of young love, and do so with literary grace and finesse. Gutcheon does just that and she acquits herself beautifully in this poignant novel. What's more, she adroitly manages alternating narratives, set a century apart, raising the level of suspense as the characters in each period approach the cusp on which a life turns, in parallel events that will irrevocably define the future for all of them. The novel is essentially two stories of doomed love and its consequences for future generations. Narrator Hannah Gray is an elderly widow when she relates the circumstances of the summer when she fell in love with Conary Crocker, a charming young man from a poor family in Dundee on the coast of Maine. Brought to Dundee from Boston during the Depression by her abusive stepmother, Hannah learns about the fate of distant ancestral relatives of hers and Conary's, who lived on now-deserted Beal Island in the mid 1800s. The reader learns the horrifying details in the same small increments that Hannah does, via the alternating point of view of Claris Osgood, who in 1858 defies her parents and marries taciturn Danial Haskell, moving with him to the island where, too late, she discovers her new husband's narrow-minded religious fundamentalism and corrosively mean personality. The union, which produces two children, becomes increasingly rancorous and will end in murder. Meanwhile, in her own time, Hannah is terrified by the appearances of a wildly sobbing ghost with ""gruesome burning eyes,"" who exudes almost palpable hatred. Tantalizing clues about the identity of the macabre specter, and the eventual tragedy it causes, hum through the narrative like a racing pulse. Gutcheon adds depth and texture through lovely descriptions of the Maine coast and the authentic vernacular of its residents, whom she depicts with real knowledge of life in a seacoast community. Her sophisticated prose and narrative skill mark this novel, her sixth (after Five Fortunes), as a breakthrough to a wide readership. Agent, Wendy Weil. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club featured alternate; 6-city author tour. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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FORMATS
Paperback - 339 pages - 978-1-58724-315-8
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 288 pages - 978-0-06-191011-1
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-191007-4
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-191013-5
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-191008-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-7799-6
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-06-095935-7
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