Summary (from Goodreads):
“On the day John F. Kennedy is inaugurated, Claire, a young wife and mother obsessed with the glamour of Jackie, struggles over the decision of whether to stay in a loveless but secure marriage or to 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 these two women will change Claire s life 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.”
Like everything Ann Hood has written, this is a completely gorgeous novel. It’s incredibly well-written and clever and the characters feel incredibly vivid.
As an added bonus, there are these little asides on grief that are just amazing and true. Grief is an incredibly isolating thing but at the same time, we all go through it and it’s one of the few things that pretty much everyone will experience at same point. Even so, because every instance of grief is so individualized, it still varies from person to person and death to death. Losing a parent is not the same thing as losing a grandparent and that is completely different than losing a child.
I absolutely love Ann Hood’s writing and this would be an excellent book to start with if you aren’t familiar with her. Many of her books deal with death and dying in some way, but they’re not depressing books.
Highly, highly recommended.