The Obituary Writer

Norton. Mar. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780393081428. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393089844. F
OrangeReviewStarPushcart Prize winner Hood (Red Thread) artfully blends two stories that converge in an emotional, poignant ending. Vivien Lowe is an obituary writer in San Francisco obsessed with finding her lover, lost in the 1906 earthquake. She imagines him merely missing or suffering from amnesia because she cannot accept he might be dead; she knows that time does not heal, that grief never goes away. Meanwhile, decades into the future, privileged housewife Claire is bored with her marriage to Peter, a good provider but a demanding perfectionist, and launches an affair that Peter soon discovers. As this is 1961, she must stay in the marriage or risk losing their daughter. Despite a difficult pregnancy, Claire attends the 80th birthday party of her formidable mother-in-law, Birdie. Birdie's illness at the party unites the lives of Vivien and Claire, and their astonishing connection is revealed.
VERDICT A well-constructed story leading readers from secrets of the past toward illuminating truths of the present. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 9/10/12.]
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