Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Review: "The Obituary Writer" by Ann Hood

Vivien is an obituary writer, working out of her home in Napa, California in 1919.  She is a spinster - an unmarried woman in her late 30's.  The man she loved was never seen again after the great San Francisco earthquake on 1906.  Vivien can't accept that her David is dead and believes he must have amnesia.... and is still waiting/hoping to find him again.  Claire is a suburban housewife who has campaigned for Kennedy, is obsessed with Jackie and cannot wait for his inauguration.  She is no longer in love with her husband and had to end her affair once she was caught.  Now, she is pregnant and is conflicted about what comes next.  The lives of these two very different women are connected in a way, and prove that maybe they really aren't all that different after all.

This book took me a bit to get into, but I needed to read it for book club.  Historical Fiction isn't my usual flavor, but I do enjoy it from time to time.  This did take a bit to really hit its stride - and I had to work to dismiss a few continuity errors and such - but it all did finally click together enough.  The connection between these two characters isn't all that difficult to guess at, but they both had quite the interesting story to tell.  The final act of the story did include a couple other twists that kept me interested through the end.  I was very satisfied with the final scene.

One very difficult thing for me was Claire's caged in life as a housewife.  It is so hard for me to truly understand the idea that a woman was just to accept what her man decides, to live to serve him, and such.  I would not make a very good housewife back then (or now for that matter).  Do you remember that movie Pleasantville starring Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire?  I thought of Claire as the black and white mother in that movie, but her change to full color was taking a little longer than merely enjoying herself in the bath.

This is an alright novel with strong character development and a story that will linger with me for a bit.  I was not overwhelmed by it, but found it to be a strong "okay".  I am very curious to see what the women in the book club have to say about it!

*****
The Obituary Writer
by Ann Hood
W.W. Norton & Company, 2013
292 pages
Source:  Library
*****

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1 comment:

Andi said...

I read this one for book club too and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I love your Pleasantville reference and had that thought while I was reading this one, too.

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