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Leeway Cottage

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  1,216 Ratings  ·  232 Reviews
In April 1940, as the Nazis march into Denmark, Sydney Brant, a wealthy girl of the Dundee summer colony, marries a gifted Danish pianist, Laurus Moss. They believe they are well matched, as young lovers do, but Laurus's beloved family is in Copenhagen, hostage to what the fortunes of Hitler's war will bring. By the time the war is over, Laurus's family has played an activ ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published May 1st 2005)
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Rating details
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Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed the beginning, reading about Sydney's unhappy childhood. She desperately wanted to be loved and approved of, especially by her stepmother Candace. She finally had enough and was strong enough to take her chances and pursue her dreams in New York. I also enjoyed the middle of the book about what it was like in Denmark during WWII. I don't know much about Danish history during the war. The stories of the Allies and Danish attempts to transport the D ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2012
This book was very readable--it only took me a day and a half to finish it--but it was frustrating in its inconsistency. The WWII/Danish Resistance/Concentration camp stuff was certainly interesting reading and compelling, but it felt like a completely different novel than the domestic/comical rest of the book. Jumping back and forth between these stories made very little sense to me as a reader. I also really didn't understand why the character of Sydney was changed midway through the story fro ...more
Book Concierge
A Victorian summer house – Leeway Cottage – is the one constant in the life of Annabee Sydney Brant Moss. Covering the time period from 1924 to 1993, this book explores the relationship between two people who are very different. Annabee grows up the privileged only child of a father who dotes on her and a mother who seems to resent her. They live in Ohio but have a summer home on the coast of Maine. Laurus is a Dane, a musician who left Europe for New York, but who has a strong sense of responsi ...more
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very depressing and I don't know if I would want to read it again, but I'm giving it four stars because I think they're well-deserved. I read some reviews on here and I can see that people are disappointed/annoyed that Sydney wound up being much like her own detestable mother. My own mother is a difficult woman and I wonder if perhaps the majority of people that did not grow up with mothers like Candace aren't really capable of understanding why Sydney turned out the way she did. I disagree that ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book, published in 2005, feels patently, urgently relevant. The story of a marriage spanning much of the 20th century, it transports the reader to a small community on the Maine coast, then Europe during World War II, then back to suburban Connecticut in the determinedly hedonistic, WASPy 60's, then a final flashback to the German concentration camp at Ravensbruck that re-casts the entire story in a devastating light.

I was profoundly moved by the part of the story that dealt with a mother's
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
I don't know how I feel about this one. I can't say that I enjoyed it. And I can't say that I particularly liked any of the characters either. I thought the story about the Danish resistance during World War II was interesting but I felt like that took you out of the story of the marriage of Laurus and Sydney and then you instantly dropped back into it without any transition. I guess this is what World War II did to most couples but it was still jarring. The author spent half the book on the war ...more
June Harris
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. No one else I know seems to have been as take with it as I was, but I was enthralled from beginning to end. I do tend to like character-driven novels more than plot-driven novels, and those that include a bit of history always intrigue me. Still, I sent this novel to all the people I know who might have liked it, but none were as fond of it as I.

Her sequel, Goodbye and Amen, I also loved, though it was not as fine as Leeway Cottage in my mind.

I've read everything Beth Gutche
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This story combined the lives and relationships of the Brant and Moss families with the story of the Danish resistance to the Nazis invasion and the rescue of Danish Jews. At times the story line seemed a bit disjointed. However, it was packed with a great deal of history which I found well presented, and the main characters were well developed. I found it difficult to put down.
Robin Nicholas
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book started with a typical premise.... We start getting to know the main characters as children(one rich and one poor) and end up following them though their lives. Half of the story takes place in the United States and the other takes place in Norway. It ended up being a very deep, thought provoking book that I think will stay with me for a long time. I have had dreams about it since.
Aug 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I chose to read this book based on a friend's review. I enjoyed it very much. I gave it only 3 stars because I felt there were too many unanswered questions in the novel.

Like many readers, I liked Annabee at the beginning of the novel. She had a miserable childhood with a mother who seemed to dislike her and a father who doted on her. Suddenly, the father seemed not to care about her anymore. Annabee appeared to have some musical talent and when she moved to New York, I thought she was going to
Jul 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun-or-frivolity
I went through a huge Beth Gutcheon phase in grad school and read everything of hers I could get my hands on, which did not include this book--it wasn't published yet. I know I've read it before, though. Don't know why I feel like reading it again, but I do.


Wow, I had remembered this as a light-hearted book about spoiled people hanging out by the lake. There is some of that, but a big chunk of the middle is the Danish resistance in WWII and how they worked and managed to save nearly all of th
“They have decided that each of them will take home one thing from Leeway for the winter, for comfort. They are going through the house somberly, saying their goodbyes in their different ways, each looking for one object that will keep the dead alive and close a little longer.”

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
Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
I only finished this book because, every time I said a few more pages and I was going to give up, it would go a few pages completely enchanting and interesting. The book itself though, I didn't enjoy, for 1 a lot of it was like reading a history book, with pages and pages of no story, but just stating history of the times. I don't mind learning history through fictional books, but I don't want to read a "history book" when I am reading for pleasure.

also the book was choppy, one minute the girl
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
What a contradiction this book is! There are basically three stories written here. The first part is somewhat entertaining as a family relationship builds. The center part about the Danish involvement in World War II is utterly fascinating and could have been extended into a novel by itself. The last part is a completely boring pedestrian mess! It's as if the writer just gave up after a tremendous exertion and forced herself to just keep writing about family members, basically listing many thing ...more
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lynne
A well written book in spite of the choppiness of the narrative line.

I found the story of the Danish resistance during the Second World War very informative - I had no idea just how admirably the Danish citizens acted and was not aware of Sweden's role in sheltering Danish refugees.

The characters were quite interesting, especially in that so many of them were so dislikable - unusual in that one was the main protagonist. I found the story of Sydney and Laurus' marriage very believable.

Having just
Feb 27, 2017 added it
Actually 3.5...
The "other" Beth is a lovely writer, and this is one of three of her books I have just completed. This is the earliest written of the 3. This is a multi generational epic of sorts, with WWII in the middle, and a Danish main character, allowing me to learn much more about Denmark and the Danish than I had ever known. That was a plus! The characters lead me on a roller coaster of their lives.
Dec 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
I thought this book had great sections, but couldn't quite figure out what it wanted to be. The story of several generations of an American family, or the tale of how World War II affected a Danish family? The protagonist changed from one minute to the next and towards the end the story line became inexplicably choppy. It could have been great, but needed more editing and a better overall plan.
Sep 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This novel grew on me tremendously as I read. It's elegantly written, and what you think will be a small story about a particular family and place grows into something much bigger and weightier. Made me want to read more of Gutcheon's writing.
Rick Hamlin
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love fiction that surprises me, and this is a novel, that like life, takes you in places you don't expect to go, showing things that you didn't expect to see. It's astonishing. A subtle, thoughtful, mind-bending tour de force.
Kathy Hale
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: oboc2015
Various characters are followed during the course of WWII both in the U.S. and Denark. I didn't know about resistance in Denmark. interesting to see the attitudes of Europeans coming to America after the war.
Judith Edinger-Dobbs
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Monet, Renoir and Degas, to name a few, were Impressionist painters. If there was a way to be an Impressionist book, Leeway Cottage would be in that category. In many instances in the book, there was an impression that something had happened or some one had done something, but it wasn't exactly stated. This novel is not a mystery by the way. In some areas of the story, great detail was written about a music piece or the parts of boat or how to sail a boat, but whether the main female character, ...more
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very uneven. There were characters to dislike, characters to like for a while and then dislike as they changed into their mothers (seriously) who you already disliked, characters who were misunderstood because nobody knew the horrible lives they'd had and didn't want to talk about....but mostly it bounced back and forth between some awful upper class snobs worrying about decorating their summer home and hiring kitchen help they could feel superior to or whatever, to people living t ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written novel on growing up, becoming our mothers (or maybe our step mothers), Americans stateside involvement in WWII, the Danish rescue of 7000 Danish Jews, marriage, and the anchor, Leeway Cottage in a small Maine seaside village of locals and summer people. There are spots that drag, but for the most part, the reader is pulled into the story and finds favorite characters and villains (and that changed for me as the book went on).
"The reader faces that most wonderful perplexity: wheth
Nov 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
I'm not really sure what I think at this moment. I literally just finished the last chapter. I quite enjoyed meeting the characters in the first part of the book. As it moved into the war portion I felt like I was in a history class. Then I was hoping when the book went back to the family that it would tie them all together more. Things just seemed choppy. The last 3 or 4 chapters seemed to me as if the author thought she had to have an ending but didn't know how to link it all together comforta ...more
Heidi Rockwood
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Very mixed feelings about this novel. The parts are so disparate that I cannot weave a theme together. Several parts were well told and drew me in. Others were so thin and tossed in that I feel tossed out. I think I’m glad I read it, but will not recommend it to others.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Uneven, but compelling. The novel intertwines two stories: the lives of those living in a Maine summer cottage, and the WWII Danish resistance. This kept me engaged, if frustrated, by the admittedly realistic character development.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought I was getting a quick, easy, beachy read. What I got was so much more. Two places I love--Maine and Denmark--provide the backdrop for a family saga. Some reviews called this choppy. It felt like that, but I thought it was purposeful. The character development had irony. The ending left me without words.
I really liked parts of this book and I really hated other parts. The Danish resistance efforts in WWII were especially compelling and I want to learn more.
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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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