Sunday, November 04, 2007


More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Nearing the end of her life, Hannah Gray returns to Dundee, Maine to relive the summer of her seventeenth year:
"My children think I'm mad to come up here in winter, but this is the only place I could tell this story. They think the weather is too cold for me, and the light is so short this time of year. It's true this isn't a story I want to tell in darkness. It isn't a story I want to tell at all, but neither do I want to take it with me."
She begins her story: "Somebody said 'true love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.' I've seen both and I don't know how to tell you which is worse."
Between the telling of Hannah's story of love and suspense is the story of a family who lived in the area years earlier. This novel joins the two stories to create a truly memorable tale.
I had "More Than You Know" listed as a romance, but it is also a ghost story, and, fittingly, Gutcheon's writing is hauntingly beautiful. "In the stillness of the sunset, when the wind drops, a boat leaves a path like a scar across the water that remains long after its wake has flattened and the boat is out of sight. I always remembered that, in landlocked years, that scar across the water, a mere disarrangement of molecules, lovely and purposeless but an illustration that everything matters, everything that happens changes something else." I felt Hannah's pain at her step-mother's indifference, the wonder of her first love, and the terror she experiences as she encounters the specter with eyes like dry ice. Even the ending, like a good ghost story, gave me chills. Because the book starts with the end of Hannah's life, you know how things end, but the suspense builds as you delve into why and how it came about. Here are some other quotes that illustrate Gutcheon's wonderful style:
I'll visit Ralph's grave while I'm here. It will be a year ago he joined the Silent Majority, as Grandfather would have said, on January 12, his birthday. As if his life was a circle, and he closed it by dying on the day he was born. Ralph led a charmed life in that way, finishing what he started. He was a soul at peace, in life and in death. An old soul, and a restful one, with no wild strains to haunt him and no invisible burdens to carry. You can't mourn for a life like that. You can mourn for a life like Conary Crocker's." So we are first introduced to the Conary, the love of Hannah's life.
On Christmas Eve, right beside this fireplace, we read our letters to Santa Claus. Grandpa had a big fire going, very hot. He crumpled the letters and stuck them on the end of his pitchfork and held them in the fire. They blazed up, and were carried up the chimney with a whoosh. Then we ran outside to watch the sparks flying out from the chimney and off on the night wind to the North Pole, flickering orange against the cold white stars. It made you feel you could write a letter to anyone like that, living or dead, and mail it in the fire. Perhaps I believe it still." Wonderful imagery.
"Irony doesn't explain it. I'm not sure I believe in irony, I think it's just a conceit of ours to explain the way our notion of God's plan differs from the evidence." Very thought-provoking.
I bought this book from Barnes and Noble knowing nothing about it. What a serendipitous decision and probably one I wouldn't have made if I had known the fearful side of the story. I enjoyed the flavor of the Maine coast, the poignant love story, and even the ghost story. I look forward to reading more of Gutcheon's work.
Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 8:39 PM

Joy said...
I love the title and the cover of this book! They made me quickly check to see what you rated it and was pleasantly surprised! :) This book deserves more looking into. Thanks.
8/05/2007 6:47 AM
SuziQoregon said...
This one sounds really interesting!
8/05/2007 10:34 AM
Lynne said...
I read this one a while ago. I can't remember too much about it (senior moment), but I know that I liked it. I like her books.
8/05/2007 3:10 PM
Cassie said...
That sounds really cool, I'll think I'll add that to my list. That is amazing imagery in those quotes.
8/06/2007 8:37 AM
Bookfool said...
I think I actually passed up a copy of this book when our bookstore went out of business. I'll have to look. It sounds wonderful! Thanks for the terrific review.
8/06/2007 11:42 AM
Carrie K said...
It does sound wonderful, I like her turn of phrase, and it doesn't sound like something I'd normally pick up.
8/06/2007 8:47 PM
Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...
Thank you so much for putting excerpts from the book into your blog. I love the way this woman writes. Your review of it has encouraged me to go out and buy the book today. Thank you so much!
8/07/2007 8:56 AM
Booklogged said...
Framed, this is a lovely review, so well written. Love the quotes you chose to share. Your review is so enticing that I will be knocking on your door soon to see if I can borrow this book. Does Gutcheon have other books out or is she a new author?
8/09/2007 12:27 PM
Framed said...
Booklogged, she did write some other books. I think I will be on the lookout for those.

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