The Obituary Writer

I did not expect to fall in love with this book, but that’s sometimes the best gift stories can do for us. The Obituary Writer, by Ann Hood, was read at the right time for me. I was handling a crossroads type dilemma, and this book breathed fresh air into a hard decision.

This book is about Claire and Vivian. Claire is a housewife in the 1960’s, feeling trapped in her life with a feelings of grief and hopelessness. Vivian is an obituary writer in 1919 despairing over the mystery of the disappearance of her lover in the San Francisco earthquake in 1906.

As the story continues, the reader finds out much of the back story of the women, and pushes us to re-examine our perceptions of morality. It causes us to feel empathy for circumstances. And by the end, it leads us to feel hope where we didn’t think we could achieve it.

The book weaves the two lives of these women together, with an interesting twist towards the end of this book. What the stories of these two women showed me is that grief should not control my actions. Even in the worst circumstances, hope can guide me to a happier place.

I’ve struggled hard over the past year. I’ve felt what Claire and Vivian felt in this story. I’ve experienced loss and hope, and all the extra in between. I’ve felt betrayed and forgotten. I’ve felt the need to distance myself from what lives within me, and the crippling guilt of needing to find my own way, without my husband’s guidance.

It took me a while to finish this book, because I needed to savor it. Like a fine red wine, sentences felt like poetry, sitting deliciously in in my mind. In fact, I paired this book with a local Cabernet Savignon, letting the smokey flavor dance on my tongue while I forced myself to read the chapter slowly, to fully embrace the author’s meanings.

The book wasn’t perfect. The editing was not consistent, and one blaring mistake almost ruined the story for me, but as I allowed myself to think past the issues, and truly embrace the story, the mistakes didn’t feel as noticeable.

Reviewer’s Rating 4/5.

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