Monday, February 9, 2009

Good-bye And Amen by Beth Gutcheon

The Moss family has come together in the wake of the deaths of the parents. The lives of this family were detailed in Leeway Cottage, and Good-bye And Amen is the next stage in this family's saga. Laurus and Sydney Moss were strong individuals. Their deaths leave three grown children. Eleanor is the oldest daughter, and probably the best adjusted. She married her college sweetheart, Bobbie, and has three children of her own. Monica, the middle child, was engaged in lifelong conflict with Sydney. Sydney picked her out early as an enemy and carried out a lifelong war against her. Monica is married to a charasmatic preacher, Norman, with two grown children. Jimmy, the only son and youngest child, spent years rebelling against the family and its influence. He now lives out west, married to Josslyn, and their three children.

The book details the various family relationships. Parent and child, husband and wife, sister and brother, in-laws, aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews, cousins, old friends and current relationships. We see how patterns established early tend to play themselves out over the years. We see how each generation takes from the past and carries forward with new relationships and ways of handling the world. There are sibling rivalries, marital issues, yet underneath it all, we see the love that holds this family together over the generations.

I really enjoyed this book. I had not read the predecessor but plan to go back and read it, since this book was so intriguing. The method of narration was interesting. The entire book was told in first voice, but not one narrator as you might expect. Each character told their part of each event, and we got to see how each person's mind worked and what was important to them. Often an issue of major importance to one character was totally insignificant to another. Seeing this, it was easy to see how conflicts and misunderstandings occurred over the years. I enjoyed the sense of family over the generations, grounded in one spot regardless of where life had moved them. This book is highly recommended for readers of fiction and those interested in family relationships.

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