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The Obituary Writer: A Novel Hardcover – February 25, 2013
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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“In this poignant and incisive novel, Ann Hood brings history back to life in the most intimate way, chronicling the love affairs and heartbreaks of two very different women in two very different times. Moving gracefully and persuasively between post-earthquake San Francisco and the early 1960s, The Obituary Writer makes unexpected connections between these two bygone eras, and in the process, manages to illuminate the present as well as the past.” (Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers)
Top Customer Reviews
Set in two different times periods, Hood tells two stories that eventually come together at novel's end. Claire is a young mother in 1960, just as John F. Kennedy has become president. She has a young daughter, and wonders if this is all there is to be excited about in her marriage, especially as she embarks on an affair with a married man. The trip that Claire and her husband, Peter, make to visit his mother on her 80th birthday changes everything in their lives.
In 1919 Vivien is an obituary writer. She has a gift for being able to write obituaries that share the true essence of a person. She is also grieving the loss of her lover, David, in the San Franciso Earthquake in 1906. Vivien never truly believes he has died, and even thirteen years later continues to look for her lost love.
Rarely do I read a book with alternating narrators where I enjoy and relate to each narrator equally. Often I am skimming one person's narration while becoming totally absorbed in another character's. Not so with the Obituary Writer. I enjoyed both Vivien and Claire's stories. The ending Hood has crafted for The Obituary Writer leaves readers a bit of ambiguity, at least in my mind. I know how I feel this story ends, yet I would be curious what conclusions other readers have drawn.
The Obituary Writer, Hood's third novel, is sure to add to her growing number of fans.
These characters really came to life for me and I felt for both of them and wondered how their stories would end. Would Claire leave her husband or stay with him even though she felt unloved? Would she choose the lover instead? What about the baby? And what about Vivian, would she spend the rest of her life searching for David, never knowing where he was or what happened to him? She's been searching for thirteen years, how would she know when it was time to give up if ever?
The characters Hood creates are sympathetic and realistic and I was pulled into each woman's story and never felt the narration for either character lasted too long, each woman's experience was emotional and compelling. I thought the author did an excellent job detailing the emotions of her characters but especially the loss and mourning for all the characters who experience it.
This is the first novel by Ann Hood I've read and I wasn't sure what to expect, some of the reviews I read were mixed with criticism for how the author dropped product names to set the period for the story set in 1960. Having read that criticism I was prepared for the name dropping and I didn't find it distracting, though I could see how some readers might be bothered by it.Read more ›
~Just before the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, young Vivien falls in love with a dashing young attorney named David. They spend blissful days together until he departs the morning of the earthquake, never to be seen again. For thirteen years, Claire grieves and never stops looking for him. She simultaneously becomes an obituary writer, poetic and skilled, perhaps because she understands grief and grieving so well.
Ann Hood's novel alternates between their stories, moving them forward, intertwining their themes and their conclusions.
The book is moving and sad and wonderful and filled with truths and historic moments. When each woman's vignette ended, I couldn't wait to see how her next one started, but then there was the alternate story, tugging me forward. This was my first Ann Hood, and now I want to go back and read them all, from the beginning.
That being said, here are the Top Ten Things That Are Great About "The Obituary Writer."
10. It captures the 60s masterfully, right down to the hors d'oeuvres served at the neighborhood couple's dinners (one neighbor can artfully spread cheese whiz on a cracker just so). You'll happily flee to some nouvelle cuisine and perhaps remember what was considered elegant back then.
9. It reminded me of the feeling of hope that gripped the nation when Kennedy took office, and America's love for Jackie and the two children.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very different book. Ending was a surprise! Different kind of a story.Published 28 days ago by Richard J. Gasper
It took me a little time to get into it. After that I really enjoyed it, and the surprises in the ending.Published 1 month ago by Mrs B
I'd never heard of Ann Hood before I met her at a writers workshop. I asked her which book I should read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Wix Diamond
Easy read -could pick up and put down. Predictable but enjoyable.Published 1 month ago by Grace G. Miller