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Leeway Cottage: A Novelby Beth Gutcheon
Synopses & Reviews
In this beautifully written tour de force of a novel, Beth Gutcheon takes readers back to the coastal village of Dundee, Maine. There, in a Victorian summer house called Leeway Cottage, we witness the scenes of a long twentieth-century marriage.
In April 1940, as the Nazis march into Denmark, a rich girl of the Dundee summer colony named Sydney Brant marries a gifted Danish pianist, Laurus Moss. They believe they are well matched, as young lovers do, but almost at once, their views of the world and their marriage begin to diverge. Laurus's beloved family is in Copenhagen, hostage to what the fortunes of Hitler's war will bring, especially as his mother is Jewish. When Laurus chooses to leave Sydney in the fall of 1941 to help build a Danish Resistance from London, Sydney is dismayed. By the time they are reunited four years later, Laurus's family and the reader have been through one of the most stirring stories of the war: Denmark's courageous grassroots rescue of virtually all 7,000 of the country's Jews. Meanwhile, in America, Sydney has led a group knitting for the war effort, and had a baby.
In the decades to come, many people, especially their three grown children, will wonder whether these two very different people understand each other at all. If they do, how do they stay together? Laurus likes to claim that in heaven you get to see the movie of your life, with all the blanks filled in. In their old age Sydney fears what he might see and why he wants to know; their children fear he'll die and there won't be any movie.
But there will be.
"In this sprawling family epic, Gutcheon (More Than You Know) chronicles how an unlikely marriage endures over the course of the 20th century. The novel is anchored in the idyllic, fictional summer colony of Dundee, Maine, which will always feel like home to Annabelle Sydney Brant, but turns on the story of the Danish resistance against the Nazis in WWII, a revolt Annabelle's Danish-born, half-Jewish husband, Laurus Moss, leaves the U.S. to join. Annabelle matures from the young, cosseted Annabee (coming-out parties in Cleveland, sailing in Maine) to the bohemian Sydney (voice lessons and a flat in New York City), clashing with her chilly, socialite mother, Candace, along the way. In New York, she meets Laurus, a pianist, and as they court, Hitler marches on Europe. When the Nazis invade Denmark in 1940, Laurus cannot rest idly with his homeland and family endangered, so joins the London-based Danish Resistance. During their separation, Sydney gives birth to the first of three children and Laurus's family escapes from Denmark to Sweden. The war and time apart change but don't estrange Laurus and Sydney, whose lasting union despite glaring differences puzzles observers: 'Sydney and Laurus Moss were like a tiger and a zebra married to each other. What were those two doing together?' Charting a marriage against the backdrop of a tumultuous century, Gutcheon writes evocatively of love and war." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Told against the backdrop of the amazing Danish Resistance and their protection of the Dutch Jews, Gutcheon's tale is more than just a story of a marriage; it's a metaphor for an era." Booklist
"Compelling...Ambitious...Gutcheon's insights are...keen, her sympathy for all her characters...contagious." Kirkus Reviews
"A curious combination of a World War II historical/summer house novel, this is a good old-fashioned, all-encompassing read, with tears and smiles guaranteed." Library Journal
"A gentle, even tender book. Every reader will be wiser for it." BookPage
"A rich saga of an American family told with moving clarity." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"[A] great drama, cinematically told..." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The critically acclaimed author of More Than You Know returns with a powerful family drama set in a Victorian summer house in Maine.
About the Author
Beth Gutcheon is the critically acclaimed author of More Than You Know, Five Fortunes, Saying Grace, Domestic Pleasures, Still Missing, and The New Girls, as well as several film scripts, including the Academy Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City.
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