Good-bye and Amen: A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
Gutcheon concludes the Moss family saga that began with Leeway Cottage in a disappointing fashion. Laurus and Sydney Brant Moss have died, and it's up to their three children, Eleanor, Monica and Jimmy, to divide up the estate. Naturally, the process exposes old frictions and creates new ones while sparking reminiscences of their lives, notably concerning their difficult relationships with their prickly mother, who hid venom beneath a veneer of social graciousness. The narration is many-voiced; the siblings, their spouses and children, their friends and neighbors, and even the dead contribute to the storytelling. While the points-of-view of the living are maddeningly self-involved, the dead really seem to understand what's going on. The effect is both tragic and mildly amusing, but gradually, it becomes difficult to feel for the characters. Though the novel is beautifully written, the narrative becomes frustrating and claustrophobic repetitive as it wears on. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Narrator Joyce Bean displays an impressive range of voices and accents.... Author and narrator combine to create a thoroughly enjoyable audiobook." ---AudioFileSee all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I went on line and brought up Leeway Cottage and read the reviews. BINGO!!! I had read it and remember really enjoying it. So I dived back into Goodbye and Amen and couldn't put it down. It sort of tied up the life of Sydney and Laurus Moss through their children. You also get to revisit places and things that you remember happening.
I would recomend reading Leeway Cottage first to really appreciate and enjoy Good-bye and Amen. I didn't like it quite as much but it brought back the memories of that novel and I think I am going to read Leeway Cottage again.
Great job to Beth Gutcheon. The characters are so real and her writing is so good!
As the sequel to Leeway Cottage, Good-Bye and Amen is the continuing drama about the Moss family. The story is still a fascinating stand-alone novel even if you haven't read Beth Gutcheon's first tale about this captivating New England family.
Good-Bye and Amen is written in a unique format and recounts how three siblings reunite at their family summer home in Maine to decide how to divide up their parents' estate. The story begins with the Moss children, now adults, going through their parents' possessions following Laurus and Sydney Moss's death. The marriage of well to do American Sydney Brant to talented pianist Laurus was a mystery to most people who knew them but especially to their children. Both their parents influenced the three children but their domineering mother was the one with the greatest influence on how they grew up.
Pressed by their own families to get their fair share of their inheritance, the siblings struggle with how to reasonably divide up what their parents left them while keeping their love for each other intact. This "lottery" of their inheritance also brings the siblings together as a way of saying goodbye to their parents.
Things get off on the wrong foot when the son, Jimmy, takes the baby grand piano that middle sister, Monica, wanted very much. Jimmy is the youngest and for years was off on his own, said to be involved with drugs, but has now settled down with a respectable job making computer games and living in California with his wife Janice. Surprisingly, Jimmy wants to be fair with his sisters, even though he isn't yet sure he wants to have a relationship with them again. This trip is one in which he decides they may all learn more about each other and come away better off in the end.
Eleanor Applegate, the eldest Moss child, is well mannered and very secure in her marriage to Bobby, a banker with a laid-back manner about him. Eleanor is not as much interested in what she can get for herself but rather for her children.
Middle child, Monica, is married to Norman Faithful, who just may not live up to his name. He is a pompous minister from a rather dubious background and is basically unpopular with the rest of the clan. Monica herself wants whatever she can get. Her desire to possess so much may be a substitute for what she is lacking in her troubled marriage. Although Monica is loyal to Norman, even after he quit his law practice to take up the ministry, it is easy to see that he is deeply disturbed and not what Monica thought he was when they married.
As mentioned, the story is told in a unique format using short sections conveyed by the characters in the story. They each tell about what is going on from their own point of view and when you then read the next part told by another character, one can see that everyone may have a difference of opinion on what is really going on. This way of writing makes the reading of Good-Bye and Amen an extraordinary and outstanding book to read as it brings you right into the family. It makes you wish you were in that house in Maine with them so you could share your idea of what is going on.
Who will get what is a main part of the story as every item, no matter large or small, plays an important role as it reflects bitterness and hard feelings that Eleanor, Monica, Jimmy and their families feel toward one another. The final decision of dividing the actual home into thirds leads to the outcome of where this family will go from here and what it will mean for their family and generations to come.
The story is open and amusing and memorable. The middle section of the book contains photographs of the family and that adds to the reader really seeing "the whole picture" of the Moss family.
Submitted by Karen Haney, July, 2008
Initial confusion aside, I ultimately did enjoy this story of the three siblings and their respective spouses, children, friends and adversaries once I got everyone sorted out. I even enjoyed the flow and structure of the tale. It reads like a diary from a group therapy session with everyone defending or justifying their actions while questioning the motives and actions of others. Ultimately we find that it is not the family the prays together, stays together.....but rather that blood is thicker than water.
All things considered, I'd give it 2 ½ stars.
The format is different from anything I have read and each character has a few paragraphs to convey what is happening before the next character weighs in. While a little jarring at first, the technique works and is very fun to read. You actually get to be inside each character's head and see how they perceived the events and what emotions they were experiencing at the time. With this style and generally outstanding writing, I felt like I ended up knowing these charaters as well as my own family.
Other reviewers have given a good synopsis of the story line, so I won't spend time on that, but let me say this is fabulous book. The characters are very well drawn and the writing great. One of the best books I have read all year ..... couldn't but it down.
Eleanor, Monica and Jimmy met up at their parents' old house one weekend. According to their parents' wishes, they did a lottery type drawing and the siblings had to pick out what they wanted or what their extended family members wanted. And the novel evolved from that. There's Eleanor, the oldest daughter and the "perfect one." Monica is the much-ignored middle child and Jimmy is the most loved youngest. Their parents left behind not only material goods but memories that each of them had to sift through, especially Monica. The novel is more centered around Monica and her charming minister of a husband, Norman.
This is an unique story-telling style though and at first, I wasn't sure I was going to like reading different voices telling their own version of the same stories. However, after a few pages of reading it started to feel like I am at a family reunion where everyone is telling me their side of things ... and it moved along pretty well. It is a very fascinating way of telling the story and it does move the novel along pretty well. Gutcheon has a way of telling the story and keeping the reader interested until the end.
This is a novel about families, their expectations, their memories and how much their lives are tied in with their parents even after their parents have died and moved on. It shares revelations among the grandchildren and just about every voice in this novel is one that I can recognize and see within in my own life. There were honest voices, pretentious voices and sly voices. They are voices of people that live life as they know how and grow up the only way they know how.
It is a really sweet novel and if you like to read about family sagas, this one definitely fits the bill. I am not sure if I have read any of her books before, but I think I would like to try her again. She has definitely a way of writing to keep my attention.