Wonderful book. Told from the perspective of two females - one in 1961 and one in 1919. Altho I have not read Ann Hood before she drew me right in from the very beginning. Her writing style is descriptive, but very easy and flowing. About 2/3rd of the way thru the book I thought I had it all figured out - Nope! Only partially - Hood had a definate twist later in the book, that actually brought the whole story to a satisfying conclusion. This book is well worth the read.
Enjoyed the book. I was intrigued by the back and forth style of writing, at first put off, then embracing it. Although I guessed who they were to each other by midway, the smaller mysteries still held my interest. Well written, but a few mistakes were a bit annoying. The author's mix-up of the two women's names would have been easily corrected by proper editing. However nothing was bad enough to keep me from finishing this well written story of the lives of two women, connected somehow during two separate eras of history.
Note: Background information on the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was interesting. The brief Kennedy period was a poignant memory as well.
First Line: If Claire had to look back and decide why she had the affair in the first place, she would point to the missing boy.
The Obituary Writer is the tale of two women in two different eras.
In 1919, Vivien Lowe has made a new life for herself after losing the man she loved in the devastation of the San Francisco earthquake. Now living in Napa, California, she is well known for writing obituaries that truly capture the deceased person's life and spirit. She has come to terms with her own grief by telling these stories of the dead.
In 1961 on the day John Fitzgerald Kennedy is inaugurated as President of the United States, Claire knows that her life is at a turning point. Should she stay in a loveless marriage, or should she follow the man she loves and whose baby she may be carrying? She's tried everything she knows to be the perfect wife and mother, but nothing seems to penetrate her husband's attitude of self-importance and entitlement. Soon a connection between the two women will change the life of one of them in ways she never would have imagined.
I enjoyed Ann Hood's writing style throughout this book, and although Vivien's story was touching, I found Claire's to be the stronger one in terms of holding my interest. It was as though Hood created an early 1960s time capsule that had me remembering so very many things from my early childhood.
Yes, the book is well written and flows smoothly to the end, but I never really found myself caught up in it. Vivien never really came to life for me; it was as if her grief had wrapped her in cotton batting that kept me from getting too close. Claire irritated me, and I freely admit that it's more my fault than hers. Although her story reminded me of so much from my childhood, unlike Claire, the women in my family never filled me with the "party line" on how to be a perfect wife and mother. Claire and I see the world in very different ways-- so different that it was impossible for me to identify with her. I also surmised the connection between the two women from the first few pages of the book, and that unfortunately stripped away much of the emotional power of the book.
Did I enjoy The Obituary Writer? Yes, I did, even though I did not bond emotionally with Vivien and Claire as I suspect I was intended to do. Ann Hood writes beautifully, and I'm definitely going to look for other books that she's written.
I don't even know where to start on the review for this book. Even if i did not like the story--- i would of liked it because of the way Ms Hood wrote this story. BUT...i didn't just like this novel, i LOVED it!
I have read hundreds of novels but only a small handfull get "fantastic & unforgettable" from me. The smooth flow of the words and the writing style of this novel swept me away. I really liked the story, it absolutely possessed me after the first page, i could not put it down. I truely liked Claire and Vivien.
This is written partly in an era gone by that i remember well. This novel allowed me to relive some of it and i enjoyed that. Elizabeth Berg said (quote) "she felt the sadness of loss, the deliciousness of gossip among a group of women friends, the frustration of miscommunication in marriage, the joys of sensuality" when she read this and that sums up this wonderful novel better than i can. A read not to be missed. A joy to the heart to spend time with.
We read this book recently in our book club group. Everyone in the group really seemed to enjoy this book, myself included. I did notice a few errors by the author (swapping the names of the main characters, Vivian and Claire in several places throughout the text) and everyone in our group had some examples of themes that didnt carry through the book or were left unexplained as far as significance to the story.
However, it was quite an enjoyable read and the shortcomings can be overlooked, thanks to the two compelling story lines and lives of the main characters. We noticed that, while living in an earlier era, Vivian led a more modern life than Claire. However, they had some significant overlaps as far as circumstances in their lives keeping them from the men they loved.
A few in our group guessed the connection between Vivian and Claire before its revealed at the end of the book.