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Good-bye and Amen: A Novel

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  350 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
In a summer cottage on the coast of Maine, an unlikely love was nurtured, a marriage endured, and a family survived. Now it is time for the children of that marriage to make peace with the wounds and the treasures left to them. And to sort out which is which.

The complicated marriage of the gifted Danish pianist Laurus Moss to the provincial American child of privilege Sydn
ebook, 272 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published July 22nd 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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It is obvious from the outset that it would have proven useful to the readers of Good-Bye and Amen to have also read Beth Gutcheon's previous offering Leeway Cottage. Perhaps then we would have had some inkling of who the characters in this saga were and how they related to the other characters. This reader was about 60 pages into the book, and continuously flipping back and forth in the story in an attempt to ascertain who each person speaking was and what their connection was to the other char ...more
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is interested in how families work
I would have devoured this book in one setting if I didn't have to do pesky things like sleep and go to work. This is a story, told in wonderfully chaotic 12 or so voices, of a family. It begins with 3 grown children dealing with cleaning out their parents' houses after their surprise dual death (gas leak) and it blossoms into this complex view of their lives (and those of their children, friends, coworkers, etc) both past and present. What is truly amazing is that the author has even included p ...more
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Review of Good-Bye and Amen by Beth Gutcheon

As the sequel to Leeway Cottage, Good-Bye and Amen is the continuing drama about the Moss family. The story is still a fascinating stand-alone novel even if you haven’t read Beth Gutcheon’s first tale about this captivating New England family.
Good-Bye and Amen is written in a unique format and recounts how three siblings reunite at their family summer home in Maine to decide how to divide up their parents’ estate. The story begins with the Moss chil
I have read several Beth Gutcheon books in a row, and though I enjoyed this one, it wasn't her strongest. I do like the way she wrote it, as a follow-up to Leeway Cottage, with interviews from the various family members from that book. It filled in some blanks from the previous novel and offered a look at what happened with the family after the parents died. It went pretty quickly, though the various characters were hard to keep straight (but there is a list of them in the back). One thing I lov ...more
Aug 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I could, I would give this book at least a 3.5 rating. This novel is a sequel to Leeway Cottage which I read several months ago and really did not enjoy all that much. I found this story to be much more interesting and involved. The author chose a very unusual style of writing and she had me hooked from the beginning. I was a tad confused about the character that was always referenced in italics. Was this person dead, was it several dead people, or what the heck? But I would recommend reading ...more
May 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am so tired of reading about dysfunctional families! Give me a break!
Oct 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting but I didn't like the characters.
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Family interactions through the years. zzzzz
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, but not deep or engrossing.
Wendy Stockard
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A complicated story of love, loss and legacies. The family dynamics were well developed, and I loved the story told by different POVs. Looking forward to reading the prequel, Leeway Cottage.
May 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audio
This was not worth the time it took to listen to it.
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How does one say good-bye to the parents who have died and left behind not only their possessions but a host of memories? The grown children of Sydney and Laurus Moss must discover the answers as this story takes us from the process of dividing up things in the old summer cottage in Maine to the sorting out of moments that defined each of them.

At first I didn't like the writing style of presenting short snippets of the story from each character's point of view, but as I gradually grew accustomed
Oct 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just last week I reviewed “Leeway Cottage,” the prequel to “Good-Bye and Amen.” There was much about “Leeway” that I didn’t care for, but I found myself really enjoying “Good-bye.”

This short novel opens with a chapter called “The Lottery,” during which Sydney and Laurus Moss’ three adult children divide up their parents’ belongings. Right from the start I was laughing out loud at the siblings’ blunt thoughts about their parents and each other. Having already spent over 400 pages with the Moss f
Dec 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh yeah, I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. This is a novel - but there's a family tree, and family photos! And mini-biographies of each character, in the back of the book!

I loved the way Gutcheon uses oral biography to tell the story - having each character speak for him/herself, telling the same story from different perspectives. Since this is a family story with characters of different generations, & also a story of siblings, that really worked. Of course it means there's no descriptiv
Jul 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When both parents die how does a family divide up the family heirlooms without causing irreparable rifts? Good-Bye and Amen is a book about just that.

Laurus Moss was a Danish Concert pianist married to privileged Sydney Brant. Sydney loved to cause dissension among her three children (Eleanor, Monica and Jimmy). Even beyond the grave she attempts to cause fights by holding a lottery for her possessions.

Eleanor is the oldest child. A traditionalist who has a nice stable and secure life married to
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really captured my attention because the characters were involved in an activity that I will be facing in the not so distant future. Three adult children gather in their parent's house to divide up their possessions after the parent's sudden death. The three, Eleanor--the golden child, Monica--the least-loved, middle child who still wants approval from her family, and Jimmy--the "Prince" who spent his youth in the drug culture and asked his parents for his share of the inheritance when ...more
Mar 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun-or-frivolity
This is a sequel to Leeway Cottage. It jumps among the characters' perspectives every 1-5 paragraphs, which I found really annoying at first, but when I started thinking of it as interviewing all of them, I started liking it better. It covers a lot of back story, and I love back story. It seems like there could have been a little more front story in this book, though. Still, overall, I liked it. Beth Gutcheon is one of my favorite authors; her writing is spare and beautiful.


Reread 8/1/2010. D
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up one of Beth Gutcheon's books on a whim my sophomore year of college--and I've managed to read every one of her books since. Before "Good-bye and Amen", I read Leeway Cottage back when it first came out in paperback. I found the story mildly endearing, but less compelling and interesting than her previous novels. So needless to say, I was hesitant to read "Good-bye and Amen".

Told from multiple points of view, I was actually much more interested in this book than its predecessor. Despi
Holly S.
This novel is the sequel to Leeway Cottage, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading several months ago. In Good-bye and Amen the adult children of Sydney and Laurus Moss must deal with dividing up their parents' belongings, including the beloved summer home, Leeway Cottage. You learn more about the family dynamic and meet several new characters as well. The story is told almost as interview with each character. This format is a bit hard to get into at first, but it works.

To fully grasp the family dyn
Nov 21, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story reminded me of "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder, narrated by those in the spirit world who were ancestors of the characters. There is a prequeal by this author named "Leeway Cottage" which I haven't read, but plan to read. The story is of a very dysfunctional family of 3 grown children whose parents have recently. They are left to sort out the family belongings as well as their relationships with each other. I think the author was trying to be humorous, but often the relationship issues ...more
Aug 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was very unique and interesting the way that this author presented the story. There were a bunch of characters, a handful of which are the main ones. It was therefore hard to initially get into the novel. I had a p.s. version, so there was a family tree diagram, otherwise, this would make things even more confusing. I highly suggest getting a version with a family tree.

I enjoyed the characters and their unique personalities and tones. It was interesting to get through topics from so many pers
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book, a follow up to Leeway Cottage had a very different format. It was told by different points of views of over 20 characters. The characters switched in and out sometimes after just a few paragraphs. Story focused mainly on Eleanor, Monica, and Jimmy and their children and friends after the death of their parents. Do not read this book if you haven't read Leeway Cottage first. I absolutely loved that book and has been one that has stayed with me even years later. Unfortunately Good-bye a ...more
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a light and easy read, but pointless. Gutcheon creates a lot of lovely characters and voices, and has a lot of insight into how families work. But I think her choice of narrative from several characters at once was challenging, and would've been far more suited to a visual work. I also think that her familial insights would have been more worthwhile had she included the semblance of a theme. Ultimately, all the lovely anecdotes in the world cannot become a lovely story with no thesis or ...more
Terry Perrel
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gutcheon gives us a story of a close family whose relationships change during and after the division of the family estate. What I most enjoyed was the manner in which she decided to tell this story. Rather than a cohesive narrative, the plot unfolds in what seems to be pieces of interviews from both primary and secondary characters. Insert into this novel are black-and-white photos of the main players. At the end is an update on each character that had a voice in telling this story of a fracture ...more
King Cotton
It's hard to remember a book so chock full o' characters with so few redeeming qualities. Perhaps the only genuinely nice act came at the very end, but that wasn't nearly enough to make up for bad taste left by the myriad naval gazing and petty bickering that went on throughout the book. Beth Gutcheon's work is well-written and I had no problem with the style she uses, but if wholly self-obsessed narcissistic families like that portrayed in Good-Bye and Amen really do exist, I hope I never come ...more
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is the sequel to Leeway Cottage. Having not read the previous novel did not prove to be a detriment to the enjoyment of Good-bye and Amen. Beth Gutcheon manages to put the reader right at the center of three adult siblings' problems coping with the deaths of their parents and the division of their estate. There are many surprises along the way as each sibling does not always behave in the fashion that we are lead to believe they will behave. An altogether great read and I look forward ...more
Anne Marie
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a continuation of Leeway Cottage. After Laurus and Sydney Moss pass away, we read about what their three children and families are up to. It seems Monica is focused on the most, with her husband, Norman, and his life being an Episcopal priest. Eleanor, the oldest, seems to be the one holding the family together. Jimmy, the youngest, just goes with the flow with his complaining wife and three children. This book is uniquely written in that the family members and church members each " ...more
Stephanie Walden
Honestly, I'm not quite sure of the author's purpose in writing this.

There were a lot of character names to try to remember and then go back to cross-check while reading. I didn't find myself connecting with characters, either.

The parents died, the families came together to claim/split up possessions... and that's it. Random stories about family relationships. I enjoy reading or hearing a good story, but this was a selection of stories that should have tied the book together. In my mind, it did
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book starts out with a family trying to decide how to split up their parents assets after they've died and how their true colors emerge. It is written in paragraphs of different individuals thoughts. There is a bit of a ghostly aspect to it, but only slightly. It did keep me reading and interested. The style of writing was interesting, but took some memory in trying to keep track of all the different characters. All in all, I liked it.
Michele Mason
I wasn't sure about this when I opened the book. But as I kept reading, I started to really enjoy the approach. In fact, I think it is a perfect way to provide a "sequel" to Leeway Cottage. Beth Gutcheon's description of the changes that take place with a large family was very real and for me, easy to relate to. Having said that, I think that the two books should be read fairly closely together to keep both the mood, but also the ability to work out who is who.
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Beth Gutcheon grew up in western Pennsylvania. She was educated at Harvard where she took an honors BA in English literature. She has spent most of her adult life in New York City, except for sojourns in San Francisco and on the coast of Maine. In 1978, she wrote the narration for a feature-length documentary on the Kirov ballet school, The Children of Theatre Street, which was nominated for an Ac ...more
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“You're never too old to keep failing your children, are you? Why weren't we told this was a life sentence?” 3 likes
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