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Leeway Cottage: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – May 9, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In this sprawling family epic, Gutcheon (More Than You Know) chronicles how an unlikely marriage endures over the course of the 20th century. The novel is anchored in the idyllic, fictional summer colony of Dundee, Maine, which will always feel like home to Annabelle Sydney Brant, but turns on the story of the Danish resistance against the Nazis in WWII, a revolt Annabelle's Danish-born, half-Jewish husband, Laurus Moss, leaves the U.S. to join. Annabelle matures from the young, cosseted Annabee (coming-out parties in Cleveland, sailing in Maine) to the bohemian Sydney (voice lessons and a flat in New York City), clashing with her chilly, socialite mother, Candace, along the way. In New York, she meets Laurus, a pianist, and as they court, Hitler marches on Europe. When the Nazis invade Denmark in 1940, Laurus cannot rest idly with his homeland and family endangered, so joins the London-based Danish Resistance. During their separation, Sydney gives birth to the first of three children and Laurus's family escapes from Denmark to Sweden. The war and time apart change but don't estrange Laurus and Sydney, whose lasting union despite glaring differences puzzles observers: "Sydney and Laurus Moss were like a tiger and a zebra married to each other. What were those two doing together?" Charting a marriage against the backdrop of a tumultuous century, Gutcheon writes evocatively of love and war.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gutcheon revisits Dundee, Maine, to create a Cinderella story with a different ending. Sydney Brant grows up in wealth and privilege, the apple of her father's eye. When he dies, she is left with her overbearing mother, who is impossible to please. Sydney escapes to Manhattan to be a singer, determined to live her life just the way she wants to. She meets Laurus Moss, a poor but gifted piano player from Copenhagen. They fall in love and marry, but World War II intervenes. Laurus, half-Jewish, goes to England to aid the Dutch underground, while Sydney stays home to have a baby and organize knitting groups. The horrors of the camps and his family's trials are mere annoyances to Sydney, whose world is all about sailboat races and children. Told against the backdrop of the amazing Danish Resistance and their protection of the Dutch Jews, Gutcheon's tale is more than just a story of a marriage; it's a metaphor for an era. Elizabeth Dickie
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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It is interesting that I read this book right after reading "The End of the Point". Both books center around oceanfront cottages and the families that inhabit them, but the books couldn't be more different. Leeway Cottage: A Novel (P.S.) is a more traditional family saga. The house by the sea setting is less integral to the story here, but it provides the foundation or backdrop for the story.
Gutcheon is a wonderful storyteller, from the family history of the owners of the Elms and Leeway Cottage, to the children with their dreams and how their families affect them. There's really two stories here, that intertwine as families are joined. Sydney Brandt rebels against her mother and moves to New York City, determined to be independent and follow a career in music. There she meets Laurus Moss, famed pianist and Danish ex-pat. They fall in love and marry, but World War II casts a dark shadow over their marriage as Moss's Jewish family is threatened when the Germans occupy Denmark. Story one is the struggle between Sydney and her mother and her desire to become her own woman. Story two is the struggle of Moss's family (and Denmark) to achieve independence from Nazi tyranny. In the midst of both are the ties that bind Sydney and Laurus to their families and their homes.
I loved the history and Gutcheon's excellent story-telling. This was a wonderful novel.
Through the course of these two landscapes, Gutcheon details the life of a marriage and how that changes and evolves between two people, especially between two people from such different worlds. Her characters will have you switching allegiances throughout the book, an impressive feat.
I finished reading this book with a feeling of love for Leeway Cottage as deep as that of the characters who spent their lives there. It is certainly a book that I will continue to recommend. It was purchased by my mother, who purchased a copy for me, and I then purchased a copy for my father-in-law.