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Good-bye and Amen: A Novel [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Beth Gutcheon , Joyce Bean

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Book Description

Nov. 24 2008
Beth Gutcheon's critically acclaimed family saga Leeway Cottage was a major achievement: a vivid and moving tale of war and marriage and their consequences that enchanted readers. Good-bye and Amen is the next chapter for the family of Leeway Cottage, the story of what happens when those most powerful people in any family drama, the parents, have left the stage.

The complicated marriage of the gifted Danish pianist Laurus Moss to the provincial American child of privilege Sydney Brant was a mystery to many who knew them, including their three children. Now, Eleanor, Monica, and Jimmy Moss have to decide how to divide or share what Laurus and Sydney have left them without losing one another.

Secure and cheerful Eleanor, the oldest, wants little for herself but much for her children. Monica, the least-loved middle child, brings her youthful scars to the table, as well as the baggage of a difficult marriage to the charismatic Norman, who left a brilliant legal career, though not his ambition, to become an Episcopal priest. Youngest and best-loved Jimmy, who made a train wreck of his young adulthood, has returned after a long period of alienation from the family surprisingly intact but extremely hard for his sisters to read.

Having lived through childhoods both materially blessed and emotionally difficult, with a father who could seem uninvolved and a mother who loved a good family game of "let's you and him fight," the Mosses have formed strong adult bonds that none of them wants to damage. But it's difficult to divide a beloved summer house three ways and keep it too. They all know what's at stake—in a world of atomized families, a house like Leeway Cottage can be the glue that keeps generations of cousins and grandchildren deeply connected to one another. But knowing it's important doesn't make it easy.

Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor; Unabridged CD edition (Nov. 24 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400109817
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400109814
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 13.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 68 g

Product Description

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 the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Narrator Joyce Bean displays an impressive range of voices and accents.... Author and narrator combine to create a thoroughly enjoyable audiobook." ---AudioFile

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  42 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Follow Up to Leeway Cottage July 23 2008
By Jeanne Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
When I first began to read this book, I had not remembered reading Leeway Cottage. I read so many books I don't always remember. As I started reading this story about children and grandchildren dividing up a life when the mother and father die, the format seemed familiar. It is written in diary form. Then there were the different family members names. They seemed somehow familiar.

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!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Say Good-Bye in a Unique Way! July 29 2008
By Bingo-Karen Haney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
My Review of Good-Bye and Amen by Beth Gutcheon

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
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars IT WAS JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS.. July 27 2008
By Red Rock Bookworm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
It is obvious from the outset that it would have proven useful to the readers of Good-Bye and Amen to have also read Beth Gutcheon's previous offering Leeway Cottage. Perhaps then we would have had some inkling of who the characters in this saga were and how they related to the other characters. This reader was about 60 pages into the book, and continuously flipping back and forth in the story in an attempt to ascertain who each person speaking was and what their connection was to the other characters. (Had I realized that the BACK OF THE BOOK included "biographies of the contributors" that explained the background of each "speaker" in the book, it might have been a help, but alas I read the book from front to back and not from back to front).

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  stars.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Voices of the Present July 31 2008
By Busy Mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
When two parents die together, it isn't as romantic as one might envisioned. They leave behind all the stuff that needs to be sorted through and given to the family members. This novel started out with that premise in mind.

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.

7/31/08
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and fabulous Aug. 14 2008
By Holly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I selected this book and then realized it was a sequel to "Leeway Cottage". I immediately purchased "Leeway" and read it to be in a position to read this next book in the saga. After completing both books, I think that was a very fortunate thing to do ..... reading "Good-Bye and Amen" without the first one would not have been nearly as good. As it was, the first part of the book is challenging and I re-read several sections to make sure I understood who all the characters were and what the relationships were. It was well worth the time and effort because this book is a joy!

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.

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