From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Best-selling novelist Hood (The Red Thread, 2010) has fashioned a diptych of two seemingly unconnected women. Claire, an unhappy suburban housewife and mother inspired by John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign and Jackie's glamour, has a brief, ultimately tragic affair. Lovely and romantic Vivien, an English teacher in San Francisco, falls in love with a married man who disappears in the Great Earthquake of 1906. Bereft, she becomes the most sympathetic and poetic of obituary writers. Vivien is hypnotic; her vocation provides moving testimony to the healing power of language, and her wrenching story offers fascinating glimpses into the prejudices and traumas of her time. Claire's predicament anticipates the first stirrings of the second wave of feminism, but it's a tired tale flattened by melodrama, and readers will discern the connection between the women long before its disclosure. Still, Hood's language is fine and supple, the settings are lusciously rendered, the melancholy air is seductive, her use of quotes about bereavement from Emily Post's 1922 Etiquette is bittersweet, and her intricate inquiry into grief, guilt, and love is haunting.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Pushcart Prize winner Hood (Red Thread) artfully blends two stories that converge in an emotional, poignant ending. Vivien Lowe is an obituary writer in San Francisco obsessed with finding her lover, lost in the 1906 earthquake. She imagines him merely missing or suffering from amnesia because she cannot accept he might be dead; she knows that time does not heal, that grief never goes away. Meanwhile, decades into the future, privileged housewife Claire is bored with her marriage to Peter, a good provider but a demanding perfectionist, and launches an affair that Peter soon discovers. As this is 1961, she must stay in the marriage or risk losing their daughter. Despite a difficult pregnancy, Claire attends the 80th birthday party of her formidable mother-in-law, Birdie. Birdie's illness at the party unites the lives of Vivien and Claire, and their astonishing connection is revealed. VERDICT A well-constructed story leading readers from secrets of the past toward illuminating truths of the present. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 9/10/12.] -Donna Bettencourt, Mesa County Libs., Grand Junction, CO (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.