We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
 >   > 
The Obituary Writer | [Ann Hood]

The Obituary Writer

A sophisticated and suspenseful novel about the poignant lives of two women living in different eras.... 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.
Regular Price:$20.97
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

From best-selling author Ann Hood comes a sophisticated and suspenseful novel about the poignant lives of two women living in different eras.

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.

©2013 Ann Hood (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (409 )
5 star
 (100)
4 star
 (184)
3 star
 (92)
2 star
 (23)
1 star
 (10)
Overall
3.8 (357 )
5 star
 (92)
4 star
 (141)
3 star
 (87)
2 star
 (26)
1 star
 (11)
Story
4.0 (362 )
5 star
 (121)
4 star
 (152)
3 star
 (65)
2 star
 (17)
1 star
 (7)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Kathi Sterling, VA, United States 03-06-13
    Kathi Sterling, VA, United States 03-06-13 Member Since 2010

    Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1101
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    448
    246
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    219
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Parallel stories of love and loss"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Obituary Writer to be better than the print version?

    It might be, but I have not seen the written version.


    If you could take any character from The Obituary Writer out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Vivian, because she had a deep understanding of what it takes to help a person process grief, although she had her own deep sense of loss through much of the book. The important thing was that in her role of writing obituaries, she knew that simple facts, such as birth and death dates, do not say anything about who the person *was* in their lives. She understood the power of healing narrative.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is an unusual exploration of human yearnings and grief told through parallel stories of two women struggling to find love, and make sense of losses through challenging circumstances. For one woman, Vivian, her lover has been lost in the great San Francisco earthquake, and she cannot give up hope of finding him. Claire, a woman living in the early 60's is agonizing over being with her husband or a man she has had an affair with (whose baby she is probably carrying). Initially it seems their lives have no connection, but the mystery unfolds through the book, which reveals how even the distance of half a century may be closed in unusual ways.

    The most powerful parts of this book are the moving passages in which grief is explored. Through telling the stories of people who have died (as preparation for the obituaries she will be writing) Vivian helps those who are grieving bring the dead back to life in and through memory, which is a very healing process.

    The attention to details in description also brings the entire book to life for the reader. Just as Vivian asks mourners for the smallest details of the lives of their loved departed, the author gives us small details of description that makes this book rich in a way that draws the reader deeply into it. Although the themes of death and loss permeate this book, it is a very compelling listen.

    It is also very interesting to step back in time to two different eras, and realize what women's lives were like then. Each woman is facing and understanding her own struggle through the social ideas and pressures of her own time.

    24 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 05-01-13
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 05-01-13 Member Since 2009

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    101
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    173
    172
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    36
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Love, Grief, and the Attaining of Great Wisdom"

    This book turned out to be one of my favorite audio books. The honesty with which it is written is so very valuable. Though it is fictional, the beautifully flawed lives of the women, Vivian and Clare, are portrayed in a way that is not judgmental. It does not detract from who these women are, doesn't make them more or less, just describes them. I love that the story begins in the early 1900s in San Francisco, in a beautiful place, where a young Vivian, full of optimism, trusts and makes choices that her best friend disagrees with. Then Clare, in the 1960s, when John F. Kennedy is running for President, is inspired by new ideas and has "fallen out of love" with her husband. Each story is fully told, running parallel, when of course, they are in two different time periods. But I did not find this distracting in the least. Each woman learning, growing, discovering for herself about friendship, marriage, dreams and reality . . . and gaining a wisdom that only life can teach.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen BOISE, ID, United States 04-16-13
    Kathleen BOISE, ID, United States 04-16-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What a great story!"
    What did you love best about The Obituary Writer?

    I loved the character development. It was interesting to go from one era to the other.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Vivian--she had a life with tragedy and joy.


    What does Tavia Gilbert bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I enjoyed her voice.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes!


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tango Texas 03-08-13
    Tango Texas 03-08-13 Member Since 2012

    Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1055
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    415
    124
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    230
    13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Loss, Grief, Life"

    Ann Hood has crafted a rather beautiful, albeit short, tale of two women living in two time periods who both struggle with coping with loss (not only through death, but the loss of dreams and hopes) and how to move forward with their lives. The listener realizes almost immediately that these two stories must intersect at some point and you may figure out how well before the author reveals the connection between the two, but that will not detract from the tale. One of the stories is set primarily in 1919 and the other in 1961 and Hood does a nice job of bringing the listener into both time periods so that the setting is clearly playing a role in the story at all times. The characters are delicately drawn and distinct in this book - strangely, I found Vivien (the turn of the century character) much more independent and easier to identify with than the more contemporary Claire of the 60's but both women "rang true" as people. The stories are moving and interesting but this is not a really deep study of grief and it is not really long enough to make the listener sad, but certainly elicits some melancholy. My only real criticism of the book is the ending. After twining the two women's stories together throughout the book, the ending comes on very quickly and does not quite satisfy. Claire's story definitely seemed to end in the wrong place. A major aspect of Claire's grief would undoubtedly be some major guilt because her own very bad decisions lead to the worst of her loss, but the story "wraps up" so fast after the tragic event that there is no real exploration of that.

    The book is too short to provide great new insights into grief, but it is a nice study of two women in different eras dealing with loss and the effect of the societies they live in on their coping mechanisms and their ability to move on.

    Tavia Gilbert provides very competent narration. Her male voices are not great, but this book is quite "female-centric" so that is a minor flaw.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam Dunstable, MA, United States 06-27-13
    Pam Dunstable, MA, United States 06-27-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Oh the drama!!!"

    "My heart was as heavy as my luggage". Really?? That is just one example of the writing style. Sounds like something that a ninth grader would write in a Creative Writing class. These ridiculous lines were rampant throughout the book -- I tried hard to finish it, but only got 1/3 of the way through.

    Narrator's speech was very clear and precise, but for some reason her voice was very annoying. She tried too hard to make EVERY sentence dramatic. It made me hate the story because her performance was over the top.

    Do not waste your time on this book!

    23 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-16-13
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-16-13 Member Since 2005

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    319
    161
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    366
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Book Club Selection"

    I enjoyed this book and think it would be a great book club pick. The exploration of grief from the perspective of 100 yrs ago was quite interesting to me as death is now one of our last taboo subjects. The parallel stories of the death of a marriage in the 1960's and the death of a lover in the 1900's was an interesting contrast. This book is all about the choices we make based on the societal norms of the time, grief and how we overcome and grow from it.

    22 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Moss Beach, CA, United States 05-18-13
    Scott Moss Beach, CA, United States 05-18-13 Member Since 2008

    Wine, food and travel writer, editor, and aspiring novelist.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    85
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    260
    41
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    6
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Ambiguous Resolution Leaves Me Cold"
    Would you try another book from Ann Hood and/or Tavia Gilbert?

    Yes to Tavia Gilbert.
    Ann Hood is obviously good at making you want to turn the page, at crafting a compelling story. I'd probably try another, but if the payoff is as poor, I'd steer clear thereafter.


    What could Ann Hood have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    To excise a line in the last paragraph that leaves me wondering.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Tavia Gilbert was good, though I was continually taken aback by the pronunciation of "them" as "thum."


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Obituary Writer?

    The last.


    Any additional comments?

    This novel weaves together two stories that take place forty years apart. The 1919 story has depth and treats grief with a degree of understanding that is unusual and on the mark. The 1960-61 story actually captures the time quite well, but the character elicits less empathy, due to her histrionics.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 03-20-14
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 03-20-14 Member Since 2006

    Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1065
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    223
    210
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    259
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good and Bad News"

    I loved Vivien, the 1919 title character of "The Obituary Writer". Her story is haunting and leaps off the page. She's a survivor of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake with unresolved issues of loss and uncertainty - and she fills some of her own need and anguish in dealing brilliantly with the grief and mourning of others in her obituary tributes.

    The book is divided, alternating Vivien's story with that of Claire, an early-1960's suburban housewife. Claire's life and trials are, unfortunately, not as compelling. She's a very familiar example of "Feminine Mystique" discontent of the era. There's a wonderful bit about the local wives' betting pool on what Jackie Kennedy will wear to the Presidential inauguration festivities, but mostly I was just anxious to get back to 1919.

    Much of the anticipation and suspense of "The Obituary Writer" is in connecting these two women somehow. Unfortunately, that process isn't entirely successful and comes across as rushed and pretty much contrived. It's not a crime for a novel to leave some unanswered questions and unresolved issues - confusion, frustration, and the feeling that something is deeply wrong do not, however, add up to a satisfying conclusion.

    So, there was disappointment in this listening experience, but I will not soon forget the lessons that Vivien has to teach about grief and memory. Because of that, and because of Vivien's early story, I do give something of a qualified recommendation to this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helen Canada 12-06-13
    Helen Canada 12-06-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    34
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful"
    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved the ending, although I knew what was happening. A few chapters before the end, a name was introduced that brought it all together. It is a lovely story to read (listen to) when you can curl up on the sofa and bring the characters into your mind.


    What aspect of Tavia Gilbert’s performance would you have changed?

    I found her to be a bit whiney and she didn't differentiate the various characters very well. I found her portrayal of Claire as someone who lacked a personality.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The story was a sad story and one that made me reminisce of times gone by


    Any additional comments?

    I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story about love, loss and finding your way.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cher Carter White Rock, BC 10-19-13
    Cher Carter White Rock, BC 10-19-13 Member Since 2013

    Cher

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Reader's voice so irritating"
    What would have made The Obituary Writer better?

    I might have enjoyed this book if I had read it in book form or if someone else had performed it as an audio book, but I could not get beyond the cloying voice of the reader. It was like chalk on a blackboard to me.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Ann Hood? Why or why not?

    If I read a really good review of another book by Ann Hood I would be willing to give it a try, but only on the basis of a great review.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Tavia Gilbert’s performances?

    Never


    What character would you cut from The Obituary Writer?

    No one


    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 24 results PREVIOUS123NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.