The Obituary Writer



The Obituary Writer

by Anne Hood

published 2013

W.W. Norton  & Co.


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.

My Review

The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood was a well written story that  just didn’t really pull me in.  The idea of writing a different, yet meaningful obituary really interested me, and I honestly wish there had been more of a focus on that, and how Vivien hid her own grief, from losing her lover, by helping others with their grief. Instead, she keeps her hopes alive that her lover is wandering around somewhere for all these years with amnesia.  When the story shifted to Claire in 1960, the flow changed too much.  At first, Claire seemed like a typical bored housewife.  Then, she is the daring woman carrying on an illicit affair.  When her husband catches on, she stays with him, despite his increasing verbal abuse.  I wanted to shake her so hard at times and just have her wake up.    I wanted to like this book, and both main characters, more than I did.


3 out of 5

2 thoughts on “The Obituary Writer

  1. I remember really liking this book. I read it a couple of years ago, so it’s not fresh in my memory, but I also felt like giving Claire a good shake. However, I kept reminding myself that it was the 1960s, and was probably even harder to leave your husband (especially with children) than it is now, so I thought it was realistic that she stuck around for so long.

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