Ann Hood's novels are ones I have a hard time getting out of my mind long after I am done reading them. The Obituary Writer is her latest novel, soon to be published, and no exception.
Set in two different times periods, Hood tells two stories that eventually come together at novel's end. Claire is a young mother in 1960, just as John F. Kennedy has become president. She has a young daughter, and wonders if this is all there is to be excited about in her marriage, especially as she embarks on an affair with a married man. The trip that Claire and her husband, Peter, make to visit his mother on her 80th birthday changes everything in their lives.
In 1919 Vivien is an obituary writer. She has a gift for being able to write obituaries that share the true essence of a person. She is also grieving the loss of her lover, David, in the San Franciso Earthquake in 1906. Vivien never truly believes he has died, and even thirteen years later continues to look for her lost love.
Rarely do I read a book with alternating narrators where I enjoy and relate to each narrator equally. Often I am skimming one person's narration while becoming totally absorbed in another character's. Not so with the Obituary Writer. I enjoyed both Vivien and Claire's stories. The ending Hood has crafted for The Obituary Writer leaves readers a bit of ambiguity, at least in my mind. I know how I feel this story ends, yet I would be curious what conclusions other readers have drawn.
The Obituary Writer, Hood's third novel, is sure to add to her growing number of fans.