The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood

Publisher:  W W Norton Co
Release Date:  March 4, 2013
Pages:  304
The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood
About the Book:  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, an uncompromising young wife and mother obsessed with the glamour of Jackie O, struggles over the decision of whether to stay in a loveless marriage or 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 Claire and Vivien will change the life of one of them 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.

Wanda's Review:  1960 - The era of Camelot, when John F Kennedy is about to take the oath of President with his beautiful wife, Jackie, becoming First Lady. Claire is married to Peter, who is a perfectionist and a demanding man. He always wants things done his way. They have a young daughter, Kathy, and Peter works at the Pentagon. Claire meets Miles Sullivan at a dinner party and her life changes. Miles makes her feel important and listens to what she has to say, making her feel worthwhile. They begin an affair.

Early 1900's - post San Francisco earthquake. Vivienne Lowe is an English teacher at a private school for girls. David Gardner, Esq. enters her life. David is an unhappy married man and soon they  become involved in an affair. The San Francisco earthquake occurrs and David disappears. Vivienne spends 13 years of her life hoping David is alive somewhere - 13 years holding onto a dream.

The story unfolds as the lives of these two women are woven together, creating a story about love, loss, and grief. Both stories of Vivienne and Claire are beautifully told. I was able to submerse myself into two different eras with the beautiful descriptive writing that made the characters and settings come to life. This novel, by an incredible author, delivers in every way and is one that I highly recommend. 5 stars.

Other reviews can be read on

The Author:  Ann Hood
Ann Hood