Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Review - More Than You Know

More Than You Know, by Beth Gutcheon, is both a love story and a ghost story. The novel starts with this simple statement: "Somebody said, 'True love is like ghosts, which everybody talks about and few have seen.' I've seen both, and I don't know how to tell you which is worse."

This book has been out for quite a while. I discovered it last week at the library on a "staff favortites" shelf. I had never read anything by Beth Gutcheon, but I will definitely read more by her now! Her book was haunting, sweet and sad, riveting, and profound. It's pretty rare to find a novel you can assign all of those qualities to, but this one definitely qualifies.

The story switches back and forth. Most of the novel is told in the first person by narrarator Hanah, an old woman who is remembering her days as a young girl. She recalls the summer she turned eighteen. This summer has shaped all the rest of her days, because during this time she was both haunted by a ghost, and she fell in love with the town badboy, Conary Crocker. The two events become extremely intertwined, and they eventually lead to shocking and tragic consequences.

Part of the novel is also told in the third person, and it relays a story about Claris, a woman who marries a loner and comes to deeply regret it. Claris' life is extremely unhappy, and through the chapters that focus on her, the reader slowly comes to understand why a ghost is haunting Hannah so many years after Claris has died.

Beth Gutcheon doesn't shy away from describing the horrific, nor does she hesitate to include truly sad events in this novel. Sometimes it can be hard to get through for that reason, but there is also a lot of beauty to this book. It will leave you a lot to think about as well. Most of all, it's very hard to put down! The switching back and forth between subplots creates a lot of suspense, and Hannah is a very likeable character who I couldn't help but root for. Claris isn't so likeable, but I wound up feeling sorry for her nonetheless.

If you're looking for a creepy yet touching love story give this a try. It's perfect for this time of year!

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