Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review: The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood

Title: The Obituary Writer
Author: Ann Hood
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Kindle for iPad
This book would be rated: R for frank discussion of sex and adultery, language

There are some nights that are just made for reading. We arrived at the Fourth of July fireworks several hours early and spread our blankets on the lawn, and the kids took off to find their friends, which left me to guard our plot of grass. So I pulled out my phone and read The Obituary Writer. The wind blew softly, the setting sun reflected back on the mountains, and the book entertained me without demanding too much.

I read Ann Hood's The Red Thread a couple of years ago when I was waiting to adopt Rose, and although that story and The Obituary Writer are quite different in terms of structure and subject, both books feel eminently readable. The Obituary Writer would be a great beach read. The novel alternates between the story of Vivien, who copes with the disappearance of her lover in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake by writing beautiful obituaries for others who have lost their loves, and the story of Claire, who is trapped in a loveless marriage in 1961, and who might be carrying her lover's baby. It becomes evident quite early how the stories are related (although I think that was meant to be a surprise), and the main theme of the book seems to boil down to "live your life in a way that makes you happy." Not super deep, but entertaining, and Hood writes well, transporting readers to both Napa in 1919 and to suburbia in 1961.

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