Friendships born in prep school days, and which continue into adulthood and old age, form the core of Gossip: A Novel, that reads like a powerful and emotional chronicle of intimacy and betrayal, trust and fidelity, friendship and motherhood…and explores the way we use “information” to sustain, and occasionally destroy, one another.
Narrated by Loviah French, who runs a small, high-end dress shop on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, we are privy to her inner thoughts and feelings as she tells the story. She shows her feelings, her fears, and the connections she has to the people who surround her in her somewhat solitary life.
Dinah Wainwright was one of Loviah’s school friends who seemed to know exactly what to do in every situation. She commented on everything and seemed to have the right connections. She was readily accepted.
After college, she became a writer about family, food, furniture, or fashion; she went to art openings, book parties, and even celebrity functions. At one point, she headed up a column called “Dinah Might.”
Avis Binney was almost a total opposite, quietly living her life with impeccable social credentials. Her stepmother Belinda became a beloved mother figure to Avis, Loviah, and many of their friends.
Over the years, through marriages that fail for various reasons, the connections between the women remain. However, some have frayed with time, resentments, and the inevitable pull of other connections.
When Dinah’s son Nicky marries Avis’s daughter Grace, the union seems to promise a better future for the old friends, albeit with some competition between the women when the child is born.
What bitterness held by Dinah and manifested in little “blind items” in the society pages creates a core of ill will? How will this emotion come back to haunt her? How will Nick’s problems maintaining his various pursuits affect his marriage? And in what ways will the inevitable fall-out descend upon them all?
The story told through Loviah’s eyes felt like a conversation. At times, she even uses the terms “you know how it was” or “we all know” about various aspects of what she’s describing. Personalizing the story in this way made it incredibly touching and helped me really connect with the characters.
The astounding finale blindsided me, and yet I could also sense something coming; lest I leave any spoilers, let me just say that it was chilling. Gutcheon is a fabulous storyteller, and this story in particular earned five stars from me. I recommend it for everyone who has ever maintained long term friendships and can testify to the damage wrought over time by the little things that chip away at those connections.