I read a review of this book a few weeks ago in some trashy women's mag (like Oprah or Ladies Home Journal or the like) at my hair salon while sitting under the heated dryer. Immediately, I checked to see if my beloved Boise Public Library had it on their shelves yet, and they did, in New Fiction! I checked into the book on Amazon.com as well, and was thrilled to see it have four stars. Here's the blurb from Amazon, which was basically what I read in the mag that had me so quickly hooked:
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.
At just under 300 pages, I finished this book in about four days. It is the kind of fiction I love, suspenseful and dramatic, beautiful and sad. I had never read anything by Ann Hood before, but now want to devour it all (I get that way with intriguing writers). However, it appears as the author has suffered from some traumatic deaths in her life, both of her brother and a young daughter, both which inform her fiction a great deal. Often children die in her stories, which, being six months pregnant and overly emotional, might not be the best reads for me at this stage in my life. Soon, though, you'll see me with another Ann Hood book in my hand. So, so good and worth it. Highly recommended.