The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood

The Obituary Writer (c) 2013

Obituary writerThis is the latest novel by bestselling author Ann Hood. You may also know her from The Red Thread, or The Knitting Circle. She’s received many accolades for her work such as Best American Spiritual Writing Award, Paull Bowles Prize for Short Fiction and two Pushcart Prizes. After reading The Obituary Writer, it’s easy to see why. Ms. Hood is a very captivating storyteller.

Like her other works, The Obituary Writer is a novel that speaks to a woman’s spirit. I don’t mean chick lit. This is a thought provoking, emotionally charged, work of literary fiction. The novel has two main characters. We are first introduced to Claire in 1960. Like many women of the era, she is consumed by the Kennedys and their perfect lives. To get a peek into Claire’s struggles, one need not look beyond the first sentence… “If Claire had to look back and decide why she had the affair in the first place, she would point to the missing boy.”

We are introduced to Vivien in 1919, which is another great time period! Vivien makes her life as an obituary writer. Her life is held in suspension as she copes with the sudden disappearance of her lover. Vivien has an inner strength that is an asset to herself and others in her life.

I found The Obituary Writer & Ann Hood’s writing to be completely engrossing. Claire, Vivien, and others within the book aren’t so much characters as people living within my imagination. I found myself loving them, despite sometimes poor decisions. I also celebrated their personal victories just as I would a close friend’s. Each of these women lived in different times and on the surface led very different lives. But at times found themselves traped within roles defined by powers outside of their control. This situation is indeed timeless.

I loved The Obituary Writer. I love Ann Hood’s writing style and I look forward to reading more of her work in the near future.

Throughout the book, food plays an important role. Vivien speaks of the rich foods made within the vineyards of California. Claire shares her efforts at culinary perfection. We were just a second from a green jello salad mold and spray cheese – say it ain’t so!!! But instead we have Crab Louie… and after reading the story, you will have to agree, it couldn’t be anything less. According to the all knowing and ever dependable internet, Crab Louie was a salad popular in the early 1900s. It was included on the menus of finer hotels, which is quite fitting.

crab louis salad

Crab Louie – my components





hard boiled eggs

crab meat


bacon crumbles – because I had leftover bacon & frankly, everything is better with bacon


2/3 c mayo

1/3 c chili sauce

2 T sweet relish

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Assemble salad. Top with dressing or serve dressing on the side.



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