Wednesday, September 28, 2011
A GOOD HARD LOOK by Ann Napolitano
Crippled by lupus at twenty-five, celebrated author Flannery O'Connor was forced to leave New York City and return home to Andalusia, her family farm in Milledgeville, Georgia. Years later, as Flannery is finishing a novel and tending to her menagerie of peacocks, her mother drags her to the wedding of a family friend.
Cookie Himmel embodies every facet of Southern womanhood that Flannery lacks: she is revered for her beauty and grace; she is at the helm of every ladies' organization in town; and she has returned from her time in Manhattan with a rich fiancé, Melvin Whiteson. Melvin has come to Milledgeville to begin a new chapter in his life, but it is not until he meets Flannery that he starts to take a good hard look at the choices he has made. Despite the limitations of her disease, Flannery seems to be more alive than other people, and Melvin is drawn to her like a moth to a candle flame.
Melvin is not the only person in Milledgeville who starts to feel that life is passing him by. Lona Waters, the dutiful wife of a local policeman, is hired by Cookie to help create a perfect home. As Lona spends her days sewing curtains, she is given an opportunity to remember what it feels like to be truly alive, and she seizes it with both hands.
Heartbreakingly beautiful and inescapably human, these ordinary and extraordinary people chart their own courses through life. In the aftermath of one tragic afternoon, they are all forced to look at themselves and face up to Flannery's observation that "the truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."
I have never read anything by Flannery O'Connor and to be honest I probably only knew she was a woman for the last 5 years or so. But the premise of this novel intrigued me because I am a sucker for any literary figure.
It took me awhile to pick up this book and now I don't know what made me wait so long. I had been in a long reading drought but I knew by the end of the first chapter that this book would end all of that.
The author knows how to tell a story without any bad plot devices, just writing about the characters and taking us on her journey with them.
All the characters were flawed and made mistakes but by the end of the book, I liked all of them, including Cookie, who was a bit hard to take. And though I have never read anything by Flannery O'Connor, I would like to now.
This was so well-written and presented a realistic look of life in a small-town and the complex people who live there.
I would highly recommend this book!
my rating 5/5