More than You Know

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Nearing the end of her life, Hannah Gray reflects on the summer that she vacationed in Dundee, Maine, with her stepmother Edith and her half-brother Steven, the summer that she was seventeen, the summer that she fell in love and everything was possible and ultimately nothing was.

As if being a teenager wasn't enough, Hannah must also contend with the dislike of her stepmother, the absence of her father, and the presence of something evil in their rental house, a renovated schoolhouse that once stood on the now deserted Beale Island.

Hannah's story becomes entwined with the story of the Haskells, a local family of the last century. The 1858 marriage of Dan and Claris Haskell that had begun so hopefully on Beale Island turns terrifyingly wrong as husband and wife assail each other, leaving their daughter Sallie all but ignored and altering the life of the young schoolmistress Mercy Chatto. The result is an axe murder, a jury that cannot reach a verdict, and a ghost that, finding no peace, is doomed to wander.

Only Hannah in her family sees the apparition, and she spends the summer investigating the past looking for explanations. She soon finds a soul mate in Conary Crocker, a local adolescent with a reputation for wildness, who has Hannah's sensitivity to the netherworld. The chapters alternate as the two stories are told, until eventually the stories merge, and Hannah's dreams are shattered.

In More than You Know, her sixth novel, Beth Gutcheon weaves the two narratives into a compelling tale, one that explores not only the meaning of love but also that of death.