Leeway Cottage

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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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 active role in Denmark's grassroots rescue of virtually all seven thousand of the country's Jews. Meanwhile, in America, Sydney has led a group knitting for the war effort, and had a baby. Combining the story of one long American twentieth-century marriage with one of the most stirring stories of World War II, Leeway Cottage is a beautifully written tour de force of a novel.


Leeway Cottage
A Novel

Chapter One

The funeral is over. The ashes, in matching urns, are on the mantelpiece. There is no way to know whose last will or testament is in force, so they have decided to close the house as always, and leave it for the winter. Next summer, when the flood tides of memories and mourning currently swamping them have receded, they will be better able to cope.

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.

In the back of a closet in the upstairs hall, Eleanor opens an ancientgarment bag and finds a shapeless and tarnished handful of ribbonsand tulle. She gives a shriek.

Monica and Jimmy emerge from back bedrooms. "What is that?"

"It's The Dress!"

"She kept it all these years?"

The three of them stare at it, the debutante dress of legend. It ismore of a rag than the couture dream they had imagined. Eleanorputs it back on the hanger and zips it back up in its bag, where it will wait, ready to be called as evidence in a yet-to-be-settled case of outragein which all the principal parties are now dead.

Although none of them has said so, what each of them mostwants to take home is the houseguest book.

Monica finds it.

"I've decided," she calls from the dining room.

Eleanor comes in from the big living room where she has beenscanning the bookshelves, and sees her sister holding the very thingshe was looking for.

"Finders keepers," says Monica.

"Where was it?"

Jimmy is coming down the stairs.

"In there," says Monica, pointing to an antique tavern table theirparents used as a sideboard. "In the drawer."

Jimmy walks in holding a framed picture of their father andmother sitting in the stern of The Rolling Stone. They are at anchor insome island cove, Burnt Coat, or Pretty Marsh. The sunset flaresgold on the water behind them, and they are tanned and happy, holdingcocktails and wearing sunglasses and smiles. Jimmy has beenabout to announce this as his choice when he sees the guest book inMonica's hand.

"I was looking for that!" he says.

"It turns out we all were," says Eleanor.

"Where was it?"

The sisters point to the tavern table.

"I say 'finders keepers,' " says Monica.

"Unless one of us owns the table." Their mother has employedher sunset years in wandering around the house promising things topeople, often the same thing two or three times, and applying stickersdelivering her orders from beyond the grave.

Eleanor kneels down to peer under the table. She pulls her headout and reaches for the glasses on a cord around her neck. She pokesher head under again and reads, " 'Property of James Brant Moss.' "She stands up and looks at her sister, and they both say, "Oh, surprise."

Leeway Cottage
A Novel
. Copyright © by Beth Gutcheon. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Leeway Cottage by Beth Gutcheon
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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