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More Than You Know

More Than You Know

4.1 31
by Beth Gutcheon

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More Than You Know is a haunting novel that bridges two centuries, two mother-daughter relationships, and two tragic love stories. In a small town called Dundee on the coast of Maine, an old woman named Hannah Gray begins her story by saying "Somebody said 'true love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about, and few have seen.' I've seen both, and I don't


More Than You Know is a haunting novel that bridges two centuries, two mother-daughter relationships, and two tragic love stories. In a small town called Dundee on the coast of Maine, an old woman named Hannah Gray begins her story by saying "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 a passionate and painful story of true love and loss: the story of a ghost that appeared in her life, and in the life of Conary Crocker, the wild and appealing boy who loved her.

Interwoven with their love story is a story of a marriage that took place in Dundee a hundred years earlier. As the parallels and differences between the two families are revealed, the reader comes to understand that someone in the nineteenth-century story has become the very unquiet soul haunting the twentieth. But not until the end do we learn (as Hannah never can) what force of mischance and personality has led to so much damage, and no one knows if such damage is ever at an end.

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.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.97(d)

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.

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.

Meet the Author

Beth Gutcheon is the critically acclaimed author of eight previous novels: The New Girls, Still Missing, Domestic Pleasures, Saying Grace, Five Fortunes, More Than You Know, Leeway Cottage, and Good-bye and Amen. She is the writer of several film scripts, including the Academy-Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City.

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More Than You Know 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
more than you know is told in the voice of an older woman who believes in love and ghosts. It's both a ghost and a love story that is bewitching and keeps you going. it opens your heart as well as your mind. must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was a great summer read. I wish they had it in E-book format, I would love to lend it to my friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a very quick read for me........two days. It's a story of true love and perservereance in one part and a murder mystery in another. Told in flashback I just couldn't put it down, I had to find out what happened to the lovestruck teens and who the ghost is. Warning don't start reading if you have alot of other things to do, because they will be neglected once you start this book:)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was a timeless classic. Parts of it were depressing, but then again every great book has to be slightly depressing to make it good. I loved everything about it. This book showed me what true love really looks like. :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
More Than You Know is a great mixture of suspense, mystery, and romance. In the story it first deals with the mystery of the town, then these two teenagers fall in love while trying to figure the mystery of the town murder about 75 years earlier. While all of this is going on the girl,named Hannah, keeps encountering a ghost that makes a terrible weeping noise, but Hannah and Conary(the boy she falls in love with) are the only ones who hear it. It's a great story with a twist at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"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." Is true love a fairy tale, is it real? NO!!! There is no such thing! And if there was I'm sure it would be horrible. There is no such thing as happily ever after, either. Sorry to break it to you, but there is no such thing, PERIOD. That said, it was a horrible book filled with lies. Love is stupid, you just get your heart broken. I should know. -Taylor
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Reading.
1readit More than 1 year ago
First Gutcheon book I've read. A great love story that, at times, makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up while chills are running up your legs. Looking forward to reading Gutcheon's latest book now.
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i had high hopes for this book - the first quote is lovely. the book is boring and goes no where.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
More Than You Know has an interesting story line that focuses on two different stories in two different eras. Each story has something that grabs the reader, however I believe more character development could have been used.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great. It told two tales without one lacking in anything. The tale of Hannah and Conary was so beautiful, I felt as if I became Hannah and was in love with Conary. The book left me in tears and wishing it would never end. Overall it was one of the BEST books I have ever read! read it and pass it on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beth Gutcheon's More Than You Know is a truly great example of mixed genre writing. Just gorgeous. Loved every page and wouldn't change a thing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was excellent. I have had my eye on the storyline for a while, and finally purchased the book. Gutcheon did a great job of keeping the reader involved, and the title leaves everything wide open for discovery. I still will read this book many times again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Until I got into it, I had no idea there was a ghost involved..VERY SCARY! You just can't put it down. And the love story, I wish I had that, minus the death part.I'm still putting all of the twists together and can't find a new book that keeps so entertained!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Was looking for another book when I found this and boy, am I glad. Characters, pacing, dialogue, setting all excellent. I'm a very hard sell and I couldn't put this down. If you think about it, you'll see some holes in the plotting, but don't analyze, just enjoy.