More Than You Know

More Than You Know

4.2 30
by Beth Gutcheon
     
 

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In a small town called Dundee on the coast of Maine, an old woman named Hannah Gray 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." Hannah has decided, finally, to leave a record of the passionate and anguished long-ago summer in Dundee when she… See more details below

Overview

In a small town called Dundee on the coast of Maine, an old woman named Hannah Gray 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." Hannah has decided, finally, to leave a record of the passionate and anguished long-ago summer in Dundee when she met Conary Crocker, the town bad boy and love of her life. This spare, piercing, and unforgettable novel bridges two centuries and two intense love stories as Hannah and Conary's fate is interwoven with the tale of a marriage that took place in Dundee a hundred years earlier.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
This "lovely, haunting, and engaging" novel spans more than two centuries of family relationships, both good and bad, loving and controlling. "The writing is intimate and cozy." "Left me breathless. Get the Kleenex out" for this one.
Sandra Scofield
Completely engrossing and entertaining, replete with suspense, grace, and sympathy... —Newsday
Shirley Hazzard
An exceptional novel — thrilling, taut, austere: this is extraordinary writing of a tense, crystalline beauty.
Reeve Lindbergh
...Gutcheon is a wonderful writer. More Than You Know is a triumph, ghost and all. —Boston Herald
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's a rare author who can combine a humdinger of a ghost tale with a haunting story of young love, and do so with literary grace and finesse. Gutcheon does just that and she acquits herself beautifully in this poignant novel. What's more, she adroitly manages alternating narratives, set a century apart, raising the level of suspense as the characters in each period approach the cusp on which a life turns, in parallel events that will irrevocably define the future for all of them. The novel is essentially two stories of doomed love and its consequences for future generations. Narrator Hannah Gray is an elderly widow when she relates the circumstances of the summer when she fell in love with Conary Crocker, a charming young man from a poor family in Dundee on the coast of Maine. Brought to Dundee from Boston during the Depression by her abusive stepmother, Hannah learns about the fate of distant ancestral relatives of hers and Conary's, who lived on now-deserted Beal Island in the mid 1800s. The reader learns the horrifying details in the same small increments that Hannah does, via the alternating point of view of Claris Osgood, who in 1858 defies her parents and marries taciturn Danial Haskell, moving with him to the island where, too late, she discovers her new husband's narrow-minded religious fundamentalism and corrosively mean personality. The union, which produces two children, becomes increasingly rancorous and will end in murder. Meanwhile, in her own time, Hannah is terrified by the appearances of a wildly sobbing ghost with "gruesome burning eyes," who exudes almost palpable hatred. Tantalizing clues about the identity of the macabre specter, and the eventual tragedy it causes, hum through the narrative like a racing pulse. Gutcheon adds depth and texture through lovely descriptions of the Maine coast and the authentic vernacular of its residents, whom she depicts with real knowledge of life in a seacoast community. Her sophisticated prose and narrative skill mark this novel, her sixth (after Five Fortunes), as a breakthrough to a wide readership. Agent, Wendy Weil. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club featured alternate; 6-city author tour. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
As an old woman, Hannah Gray looks deep into her past at the great and tragic love of her life with the wild and handsome Conary Crocker. Drawn together by a frightening apparition from the previous century and by their mutually miserable family lives, the young lovers make an urgent bid to outrun fate and solve a murder from their own ancestral gene pools. In 1886 someone planted an ax in the head of Daniel Haskell, kin to Conary. The likeliest suspects were his wife Claris or his daughter Sallie--both relatives of Hannah. Gutcheon traces the wrenching unraveling of Claris and Daniel's love, done in by the cruel and twisted ways of a marriage run dreadfully amok. Gutcheon, author of five previous novels (including Domestic Pleasure and Five Fortunes), uses her incandescent storytelling gifts to ignite the parallel tales of Hannah and Conary's and Claris and Daniel's love--ruined beyond repair by circumstance, hatred, and a desperate angry ghost. It is the rare writer indeed who can end every single chapter with deliciously suspenseful foreboding. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/99.]--Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
YA-Elderly Hannah Gray narrates this enthralling tale of events that occurred in her 17th summer when she accompanied her grim stepmother to a small village on the Maine coast. Their rented cottage was a converted schoolhouse that had been brought to the mainland from a nearby island. Hannah sees visions of a tormented, ghostlike figure in the house and she hears mysterious sounds emanating from the upper-floor rooms. She learns that a young woman was accused, tried, and acquitted of killing her father there 75 years earlier. Alternating chapters tell the sad story of Claris Osgood, the lonely daughter of a happy, talented, and prosperous family in the village in the 1800s. In search of independence, she insists on marrying a quiet, brooding man, and they move out to the island. Misfortune strikes Claris's family as they struggle in silent combat among themselves. While Hannah is trying to avoid spending time with her dour, disapproving stepmother, she roams the village and becomes friendly with a young man whose family has deep roots in the area. They visit the now-uninhabited island where they come face to face with the past. Teens will enjoy these parallel stories of love between people from different backgrounds and be saddened by the dual tragedies that strike them. Suspense keeps the plot moving at a rapid clip.-Penny Stevens, Centreville Regional Library, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061910081
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/14/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
178,701
File size:
0 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

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.

If you approach Dundee, Maine, from inland by daylight, you see that you're traveling through wide reaches of pasture strewn with boulders, some of them great gray hulks as big as a house. You can feel the action of some vast mass of glacier scraping and gouging across the land, scarring it and littering it with granite detritus. The thought of all that ice pressing against the land makes you understand the earth as warm, living, and indestructible. Changeable, certainly. It was certainly changed by the ice. But it's the ice that's gone, and grass blows around the boulders, and lichens, green and silver, grow on them somehow like warm vegetable skin over the rock. Even rock, cold compared to earth, is warm and living, compared to the ice.

For miles and miles, the nearer you draw to the sea, the more the road climbs; I always think it must have been hard on the horses. Finally you reach the shoulder of Butter Hill, and then you are tipped suddenly down the far slope into the town. My heart moves every time I see that tiny brave and lovely cluster of bare white houses against the blue of the bay.

The earliest settlers in Dundee didn't come from inland; they came from the sea. It was far easier to sail downwind, even along that drowned coastline of mountains, whose peaks form the islands and ledges where boatsland or founder, than to make your way by land. In many parts of the coast the islands were settled well before the mainland. This was particularly true of Great Spruce Bay, where Beal Island lies, a long tear-shaped mass in the middle of the bay, and where Dundee sits at the head of the innermost harbor.

Not much is known about the first settlement on Beat Island, except that a seventeenth-century hermit named Beat either chose it or was cast away there, and trapped and fished alone near the south end until, one winter, he broke his leg and died. Later, several families took root on the island and a tiny community grew near March Cove. Around 1760 a man named Crocker moved his wife and children from Beal onto the main to build a sawmill where the stream flows into the bay. The settlement there flourished and was sometimes called Crocker's Cove, or sometimes Friends' Cove, or Roundyville, after the early families who lived there. In the 1790s, the town elected to call the place Sunbury, and proudly sent Jacob Roundy down to Boston to file papers of incorporation (as Maine was then a territory of Massachusetts). When he got back, Roundy explained that the whole long way south on muleback he'd had a hymn tune in his head. The tune was Dundee and he'd decided this was a sign from God. "God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform: He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm" went the first verse. The sentiment was hard to quarrel with, though there were those who were spitting mad, especially Abner Crocker, who had to paint out the word SUNBURY on the sign he had made to mark the town line, and for years and years faint ghosts of the earlier letters showed through behind the word DUNDEE.

There are small but thriving island settlements on the coast of Maine, even now. On Swans, Isle au Haut, Frenchboro, Vinalhaven, the Cranberry Isles. But no one lives on Beal Island anymore. Where there were open meadows and pastures a hundred years ago, now are masses of black-green spruce and fir and Scotch pine, interrupted by alder scrub. Summer people go out there for picnics and such, and so do people from the town, and so did I sixty years ago, but I'll never go again.

Traces of the town have disappeared almost completely, though it's been gone so short a time. Yet the island has been marked and changed by human habitation, as Maine meadows inland were altered by ancient ice. Something remains of the lives that were lived there. When hearts swell and hearts break, the feelings that filled them find other homes than human bodies, as moss deprived of earth can live on rock.

When my children were little, they used to pester Kermit Horton, down at the post office, to tell about the night he was riding past Friends' Comer and the ghost of a dead girl got right up behind him on his horse and rode with him from the spot where she died till he reached the graveyard. I'd heard Kermit tell that story quite a few times. When someone asked him who the girl was, and how she died, he usually said that no one knew, though once he told a summer visitor she'd been eaten by hogs.

I didn't know Kermit when I was very little and made brief visits to my grandparents. But I remember him well from that summer Edith brought me and my brother back to Dundee. And I remember Bowdoin Leach. Bowdoin liked me; he always told me he had been fond of my mother. I was seventeen that year, and I needed the kindness. Bowdoin was bent with arthritis, but he was still running his blacksmith shop out in the shed behind his niece's house. There were some who didn't care to talk about Beal Island, where he had grown up. Bowdoin seemed to like to, if asked the right way.

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What People are saying about this

Shirley Hazzard
An exceptional novel--thrilling, taut, austere: this is extraordinary writing of a tense, crystalline beauty.
Anne Rivers Siddons
Beth Gutcheon speaks truly and poignantly of two places that haunt me—the rich, dark country of the Maine Coast and the rich, dark country of the human heart.
Pat Conroy
Few in America write as well about marriage, divorce, and the family ties which both unite and torture us all.
Susan Isaacs
Beth Gutcheon is one of the elect. One of those few novelists who write truthfully and movingly about everything life offers.
Roxana Robinson
Beth Gutcheon has written an elegant ghost story and a haunting love story. In More Than You Know she pairs an affectionate view of the Maine coast with a chilling one of the human heart.

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