The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood (Blackstone)

Earphones Winner

Two women from different times and opposite ends of the country are brought together in Hood’s remarkable novel. Vivian–the obituary writer–is in San Francisco during and after the 1906 earthquake. Claire lives in Virginia during the Kennedy campaign and inauguration. Narrator Tavia Gilbert captures each character to perfection: Vivian sounds strong and independent yet vulnerable; Claire, the 1960s wife and mother, sounds confused as she tries to decide whether to leave her verbally abusive husband; Birdie has a quivering voice that suggests her advanced age; and Lottie sounds like the grieving mother she is. Gilbert’s portrayal of Sebastian is especially strong; his gorgeous voice and heavy Italian accent fit his masculine yet compassionate character. Even the most minor character attains distinction through Gilbert’s thoughtful narration. AudioFile 

Hood’s (Red Thread) historical novel allow listeners to connect with events that affect and strengthen the characters. In the 1960s, young pregnant mother Claire is trying to decide whether to leave a safe but dull marriage for a man she loves. In 1919, Vivien Lowe is searching for her lover, who disappeared in the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. Through her obituary writing, Vivien helps others work through their grief and also comes to terms with her own loss. The women actually share the same purpose of leaving their past and moving forward with their future. Tavia Gilbert’s narration brings the characters to life. Verdict: All in all, a lovely story that will leave listeners feeling hopeful and with smiles on their faces. Library Journal