In Flannery O’Connor’s hometown of Milledgeville, Georgia, reckless relationships lead to a tragedy that forever alters the town and the author herself.
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.”
A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano is a powerful and touching novel about truth, forgiveness and redemption as told through the experiences of Flannery O’Connor, a woman who chooses to live by her own terms in spite of incredible personal adversity. Though a fictional tale, Flannery’s character is a tribute to the author by the same name. Inspiring and celebratory, A Good Hard Look is a story about longing for the past, for having a chance to change paths set in motion by earlier decisions. These are some of the emotions Melvin Whiteson experiences when he meets and becomes acquainted with Flannery O’Connor. Napolitano crafts beautiful prose about love, life and living in the moment and for the moment amidst the backdrop of 1960’s Georgia where the story takes place. With excellent character descriptions, readers will be immersed in the story, knowing the characters in a way only possible through masterfully descriptive prose. Napolitano will give readers reason to examine their own lives through the thought-provoking tales and life-experiences of a woman who chooses to be happy in spite of her own circumstances. Discussion groups will love A Good Hard Look for its fresh viewpoint on life and I highly recommend this novel to fiction lovers looking for an ultimately uplifting tale that inspires.
ANN NAPOLITANO is the author of the novel Within Arm’s Reach. She is a graduate of Connecticut College and received her MFA from New York University. She lives in New York City with her family.
To learn more about author Ann Napolitano, please visit her website.
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I received a copy of A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.