Tell Me Something True – A Visit With Ann Hood

Today’s post by author Ann Hood  

We’ve got a copy of Ann’s latest novel, THE OBITUARY WRITER, up for grabs today. Leave a comment on this post and we’ll enter you in the drawing.

Ann Hood

Update: the winner of of this giveaway is Katherine Jones. She has been notified via email. Thanks to everyone who entered. Please check back soon for more great book reviews and giveaways!

At my friend’s dinner party, she seated me next to a man I did not know. Dinner that night was butternut squash lasagna, and lots and lots of wine. The man was witty and sophisticated, and he regaled me with stories of his years in the Middle East. With all the food and wine and conversation, the night became a pleasant blur, a successful dinner party.

A few days later, my friend called. In a flat voice, she told me Steven was dead from a heart attack. It took me a few minutes to realize that Steven had been my dinner companion. His round flushed face appeared in my mind just as she said: “Will you write his obituary? ”

It is true that I am a fan of obituaries. I even have a favorite obituary writer, Robert McG Thomas, who wrote obits for the New York Times, including his own. But being a fan of reading obituaries is very different from actually writing one. Before I can explain any of this to my friend, she is reminding me that I told Steven I would do this.

“I did? ” I manage to ask her.

“Yes. He said that he loved your writing and that you should write his obituary and you agreed. ”

I want to tell her that I said that hypothetically, after lots of wine. I said that to a man who did not know he was going to die forty-eight hours later. But what I say instead is, “Of course I’ll write it. ”

For the next few days, I worried over what to say about this man. What a responsibility it is, I realized, to sum up an entire lifetime in so few words. Remembering his love of his time in the Middle East, I read Arabic poetry and found quotes about life and love. I did not write an obituary, but rather a short story about this man.

In the end, I knew two things: that the day you were born, the degrees you acquired, the facts of your life, these things do not tell your story. And I knew that I would write a story about an obituary writer, a woman who moves through her own grief by honoring the grief of others. Yes, I wrote Steven’s obituary, but by doing so he, in a way, gave me a gift as well.

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, an uncompromising young wife and mother obsessed with the glamour of Jackie O, struggles over the decision of whether to stay in a loveless marriage or 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 Claire and Vivien will change the life of one of them 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.

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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37 Responses to Tell Me Something True – A Visit With Ann Hood

  1. Pam Reed March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds of love mixed in with mystery will always keep me turning pages, thanks for the taste.

  2. Jayne D. March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like an interesting story that I would love to read.
    Thanks

  3. Anita March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I’m thrilled we are talking about this book and author!!! I love Ann Hood! No need to enter my name I have the book. She Reads is doing so much to share great literature!!

  4. Carol Grayshock March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I would love to read this book.

  5. shannon brown March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Once again, another awesome sounding book! She reads has the best book selections! I would love to read this book! Thanks!

  6. Paula Dolin March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    This book sounds really good – thanks for a chance to win a copy! Adding it to my wishlist now.

  7. Ann Hite March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Ann Hood’s books are amazing and I can’t wait to get The Obituary Writer. With that said, this post is so true. In 2010 I was asked to write my mother in-law’s obit. My piece turned out to be a love letter to her about how she inspired me to be an author. Thanks for this post.

  8. Gayle March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve read all of Ann Hood’s books and have gifted some to people when I feel Ann’s experiences will help someone else.
    I would love to win a copy of her new book.

  9. Melissa Crytzer Fry March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I had the honor of sitting in on a few sessions of Ann Hood’s during the recent Tucson Festival of Books. When she told the above story, I got goosebumps! And … the OBITUARY WRITER, which had previously already been on my TBR list, moved up a few notches! Sounds intriguing.

  10. Melinda K Taylor March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    This book sounds interesting. Everybody has a story. I wiuld like to read it,

  11. Bloomin'Chick Jo March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I truly adored Ann’s novel, The Knitting Circle. It’s one of the few novels about losing a daughter that I’ve read/been able to finish since losing my own daughter many years ago. I’ve been looking forward to a new novel from Ann for some time! Thank you again for the opportunity to win a copy of her latest!

  12. Heather Marsten March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    If this book is half as good as The Knitting Circle, I’m sure it’s going to be great.
    HM at HVC dot RR dot COM

  13. Ann Ellison March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    This really sounds like a great book and I would love to win a copy.

  14. josey bozzo March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Wow. She Reads never disappoints in their book selections.

  15. Nancy Pate March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Looking forward to reading The Obituary Writer, and I enjoyed this backstory ver much. As a reporter, I wrote many obituaries, although I preferred the “appreciations.”
    I’ve also followed Ann’s career ever since I first met her at the Bantam New Fiction launch party at ABA many, many years ago and read “Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine.”

  16. Candice F March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve heard about Ann Hood for a while, but haven’t had a chance to read one of her books… yet :)

  17. Deb March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like a good read with an interesting story line. I’d love to receive a free copy! :)

  18. Becky Doughty March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    What a brilliant post by a brilliant author – would love a copy of this book! And thank you, She Reads, for having Ann here today.

  19. Ariel March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    You always pick the best books. Can’t wait to read this.

  20. Katherine Jones March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    “…the facts of your life, these things do not tell your story.” From this alone I know this is a story to appreciate.

  21. Bonnie K. March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks to Ann Hood for sharing her story about Steven, and I’m glad she was able to write up something about him. Her book looks like something I would love to read. I have it down on my to-read list.

  22. karenk March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    thanks for the chance to read this novel :)

  23. Myra March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Wow! What an interesting concept for a story! I’d love to check it out…

  24. Brooke March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Love the sound of this one…will definitely be reading. Brooke

  25. Polly Schneider March 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I would love a chance to win a copy. It sounds like a very interesting story. Thanks for the opportunity.

  26. Nicole March 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Ooh, another good one!

  27. Laura Kay March 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Ann’s story gave me goosebumps. The Obituary Writer sounds so very interesting to me and has been on my wishlist. Something about the story behind a woman writing the last words about a person…a summation of their life. Thanks for another fantastic giveaway!

  28. rhonda March 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Huge fan would love to read this book.

  29. Amy March 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I really enjoy Ann Hood’s writing and would love to win this book.

  30. Kathy March 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I just had to write my brother’s obituary notice and then speak at his funeral this past December 2012. It was a profound experience, trying to bring his life to the forefront and celebrate all the meaningful events he experienced. This book would be a great healing for my past experience and give me courage to write my memoir as a sort of outline for my future obituary.

  31. Kristie March 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    This one is on my to be read list. I second what’s already been said about how wonderful She Reads is in bringing awesome literature for us to devour! Thanks ladies and keep up the good work!!!

  32. Rhonda Gordon March 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Looking forward to reading this book!!

  33. Kerri March 15, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    This is going on my to be read list! What an interesting idea. Can not wait to read it-thanks!

  34. Jennifer March 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Looks like an amazing story! I’d love I read it!

  35. Susan C. March 18, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I am extremely interested in THE OBITUARY WRITER. I find reading obits fascinating. You can learn so much or so little of a person from it ~ and it is surely a challenging job for the writer who, most likely, does not know the individual.

  36. Janet Estridge March 18, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I love the cover of the book and remember very well with President Kennedy was inaugurated.
    Thanks for entering me in the giveaway.

  37. Heather March 19, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I’m intrigued by this mystery. Wonder what the connection is between the two women?

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