The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood

The Obituary Writer - Ann Hood

This is a story of hope. We begin with Claire, a wife and mother who does her best to be everything she was brought up to be. While she goes through the motions of her life -caring for her daughter and her husband, maintaining a clean and comfortable home, being the perfect social hostess – she feels there is something lacking in her life. She realizes that she needs something more to make her feel complete and, like so many other women of the time, she focuses her attention on the upcoming inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the promise of a bright future for the United States. Claire identifies with Jackie Kennedy and like her contemporaries emulates everything about the First Lady-elect. But at one of her crowd’s dinner parties she meets Miles who will give Claire the excitement and attention she feels she deserves.


Going back to 1908 we meet Vivien, a single independent-minded young woman who takes on chance on a handsome man she meets quite by accident while shopping in San Francisco. They have dinner and end in each other’s arms. David is married but that poses no problem for either he or Vivien. She becomes his paramour and they soon realize that they are meant to be together. But fate steps in and on a morning in 1908 Vivien bids David a sleepy goodbye as he leaves for his law office; when she is finally awakened by the rattling of dishes (she believes it is their Chinese housekeeper) she soon becomes aware that the rattling is more than she thought. The San Francisco Earthquake has struck, causing chaos and mass destruction in the city. Vivien’s thoughts fly to David but who can she contact to find out if he’s alive? She spends the next fifteen years living in the hope that David is alive and that she will find him.

I liked this book and found the characters to be interesting and in their own ways provocative. Although they live in different eras the two women are still alike – each searching for something to make them feel complete and hoping that what they need is just around the next corner. We follow their lives in a parallel manner, hoping for their happiness and somehow realizing that they just might find what they need when its right in front of them.


This was an easy read and would make a wonderful book to take on a business trip or vacation. It held my interest and I liked the plot twist towards the end. What made this book a winner for me was the spot-on descriptions of the 1960s – I won’t reiterate them here as so many other reviewers have already done that. But for this child of the 60s it was a throw-back to my early teen years.