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Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
Selected for the March2013Indie Next List
A BookPage Book of the Day, March 2013
From bestselling author Ann Hood comes a sophisticated and suspenseful novel about the poignant lives of two women living in different eras.
On the day John F. Kennedy is inaugurated, Claire, a young wife and mother obsessed with the glamour of Jackie, struggles over the decision of whether to stay in a loveless but secure marriage or to follow the man she loves and whose baby she may be carrying. Decades earlier in 1919, Vivien Lowe, an obituary writer, is searching for her lover who disappeared in the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. By telling the stories of the dead, Vivien not only helps others cope with their grief but also begins to understand the devastation of her own terrible loss. The surprising connection between these two women will change Claire’s life in unexpected and extraordinary ways.
Part literary mystery and part love story, The Obituary Writer examines expectations of marriage and love, the roles of wives and mothers, and the emotions of grief, regret, and hope.
© 2013 by Ann Hood
“It is a rare novelist who can summon the creative nerve to plumb the depths of grief, but that’s just what Ann Hood does here with such compassion and grace. The Obituary Writer is an unflinching exploration of loss and the love that somehow remains, one that both wounds and heals. This is a deeply engaging and moving book.”
Andre Dubus III, New York Times bestselling author
“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, New York Times bestselling author
“Ann Hood gives us two women from very different time periods who share similar struggles in understanding aspects of love and grief…Reading this book, I felt acutely the sadness of loss, the deliciousness of gossip among a group of women friends, the frustration of miscommunication in marriage, the joys of sensuality. Creating such empathy on the part of a reader isn’t easy: Ann Hood just makes it look that way.”
Elizabeth Berg, New York Times bestselling author
“Remarkable…Narrator Tavia Gilbert captures each character to perfection…Gilbert’s portrayal of Sebastian is especially strong; his gorgeous voice and heavy Italian accent fit his masculine yet compassionate character. Even the most minor character attains distinction through Gilbert’s thoughtful narration.”
“Pushcart Prize winner Hood artfully blends two stories that converge in an emotional, poignant ending…A well-constructed story leading readers from secrets of the past toward illuminating truths of the present. Highly recommended.”
Library Journal (starred review)
“Hood’s language is fine and supple, the settings are lusciously rendered, the melancholy air is seductive, her use of quotes about bereavement from Emily Post’s 1922 Etiquette is bittersweet, and her intricate inquiry into grief, guilt, and love is haunting.”
“Hood’s fluent storytelling and empathy will ensure popularity.”
1 out of 1 (100%) recommend this productWrite a review
Great narration!May 6, 2013Tavia Gilbert’s narration was great she made each of these women sound very different and you never had to guess whose narrative she was speaking in. She gave Vivien a strong firm voice that showed her strength but also at times showed the hurt and grief that lay under everything she does and says. Claire was a bit whiny at times but it fit the character well and the raw emotions towards the end of the book were so real and well narrated.
I wasn’t really sure what I felt about this book even up to the last hour or so but then all the stories clicked in and things happened that made me feel so much for these two women. When we meet Claire it is not in the best light so it was hard to truly care about her until later. Vivien however I liked her right away, even though she is still grieving her lost love of over a decade she has immersed herself in writing the most beautiful obituaries for other people. She still searches newspapers’ everyday searching for amnesiacs because if the love of life did not die in the 1906 earthquake then he must still be out there lost with no memory or he would have come home to her.
This book is a study in grief and human behavior. These two women who at first glance don’t seem to have anything in common however you won’t have to wait for the reveal to figure that connection out. The author did a lot of research into both time periods down to the wallpaper and clothing. Especially clothing in the 1960’s or should I say how everyone was talking about our new first lady’s clothing, in hindsight we all know what a fashionista Jackie was but it is interesting to see how fast people became obsessed with her clothing.
I wasn’t a big fan of Claire’s husband but I couldn’t help wondering if that was how he always was or is it just a reaction to events at the beginning of the book. Vivian even with her grief I believe had a fuller life and friends that were much more real.
There is some points in this book where I was a little bored wondering where the story was going, this is a character story there isn’t any action this is a straight character driven book. I did end up liking it and have thought about the characters since finishing. This was my first book by this author and I would listen to more by her.
3 ½ Star book
5 Star narration
I received this audiobook from the Audiobookjukebox.com & the publisher Blackstone Audio for a fair and honest review.