I hate to admit that aside from recognizing Flannery O'Connor's name and that she is an author, I know nothing about her. Still, Ann Napolitano's novel, A Good Hard Look appealed to me. Napolitano's book is a work of fiction, bringing to life Flannery O'Connor in this novel set in O'Connor's hometown.
Napolitano has created O'Connor as a woman battling lupus, living at home with her mother on their farm, Andalusia. While this is all true, as is O'Connors obsession with fowl of all kinds, her interactions with Napolitano's characters is just fiction.
The story begins as Flannery attends the wedding of Cookie Himmel, a woman who is everything Flannery is not. Cookie is beautiful and young, an active member of various social organizations, and has managed to marry a wealthy, handsome man, Melvin from New York City. While neither Cookie or Flannery like each other, when Melvin meets Flannery he can't seem to help wanting to spend time with her, giving her driving lessons and meeting her without his wife's knowledge.
While Melvin feels alive while he is with Flannery, Lona Waters, is experiencing this same rebirth herself. Lona has spent many years as a housewife to her policeman husband Bill. When she is hired by Cookie to make curtains for her home, Lona begins to examine her own life's choices.
The shattering events on one afternoon impact all these people, changing their lives forever. How they choose to move forward and go on with their lives is something they must consider carefully.
Napolitano's book reminds me of Paula McLain's The Paris Wife, a work of fiction centered around Ernest Hemingway, and Nancy Horan's Loving Frank, about Frank Lloyd Wright. I have yet to read Horan's book, but loved The Paris Wife. A Good Hard Look was a great read, and I am truly curious about Flannery O'Connor's work after reading about her.