Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Obituary Writer; Ann Hood

Title: The Obituary Writer
Author: Ann Hood
Publication Year:  2013
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co/Blackstone Audio
Edition: audio

Reader: Tavia Gilbert (good)
Source: library
Setting: CA and Virginia
Date Completed: May - 2013
Rating: 3.5/5

The Obituary Writer tells the story of two women separated by more than forty years, yet still connected.

Vivian Lowe, the "obituary writer" of the story is a woman who lost her married lover during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. His body was never found and she has grieved ever since. yet there is something that has made her wonder whether he still might be alive.

Vivian is independent, wealthy and well educated. her gift has been the talent to capture the essence of a person's life in writing, almost like a beautiful poem.  Her work was always extremely satisfying, until the day that her dear friend experienced an unspeakable loss.

Claire is the other woman in this story. It's the early 1960's in Virginia. Claire is also obsessed with JFK's inauguration and everything about Jackie O. Claire was a stewardess, who met her handsome, well-educated husband while working for the airlines. According to society's rules at that time, he was a a real catch and she did what others expected; she married him and gave up her career. Just a few years into the marriage, she finds herself bored, unhappy with her marriage, and ripe for an affair. When it happens, she finds in her lover everything that her husband is not.Vivian and Claire are both stuck in their particular situations because women were expected to conform to certain roles established by society. A society where affairs with married men were taboo. 

The author does a good job exploring topics like pain and unhappiness. She knows how to tie a story together as well, as the story is told from the viewpoints of both women. This author also knows about grief, and it shows in her writing, sadly, Ann Hood lost her own child to illness at the age of 5. The story was well written, but ending seemed to be wrapped up too quickly for my taste. I did enjoy reading about changes that were taking place for women in the 1960's, and how their roles as predominately housewives began to change as well.  I'm a long time Ann Hood fan, having read all of her books, and although I liked listening to this one well enough, it was not a favorite. Despite that, I still think this story will be popular among many of Hood fans readers.


  1. I usually figure I have enough pain and unhappiness to explore in real life so don't normally gravitate to it in books! :--)

  2. I agree with the above comment so I am not to sure I would like it.

  3. Vivian and Claire sound like fascinating characters - like they were ahead of their time.

  4. This is very intriguing to me! I like the format of two lives in different decades intersecting too. Will see if the library has it.

  5. I might try this. I was 20 in 1960 so having lived through the 60s when women's roles were beginning to change, the topic is interesting to me.

  6. Ann Hood is an author I've been meaning to read for years, and this one intrigues me. I'm often bothered by novels that wrap up a bit too nicely too, so perhaps I'll start with a different Hood.

  7. I haven't read Hood yet but the title grabbed my attention. I might give this one a try!

  8. I haven't read anything by Ann Hood either. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts about this book, Diane. It does sound interesting due to the time period, when women's roles were on the cusp of changing.

  9. I haven't read anything by Hood, but I know of a lot of readers who say she's worth reading. Unlike a few of your commentors, I find it comforting to read novels that might echo my own sadness or grief, as they help to validate my feelings and emotions. Which book would you recommend I start with?

  10. I haven't read this author before either. I was interested in this one ... the 60s are an interesting time period and I like the Kennedy obsession.

  11. I've read a few of hers as well and always liked them. I have this one on audio though my library list and I will give it a listen one of these days. I'm sorry to hear its not as good as some of hers have been.

  12. I don't think I've read anything by Ann Hood but this sounds like one I should add to my list. Isn't that a great cover too? Great review!

  13. I think I have to try something else of hers first and then I might come back to this one.

  14. I have the audio version from the library on my shelf. Hopefully I can listen to it before it's due back.


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