A Good Hard Look: A Novel

A Good Hard Look: A Novel

by Ann Napolitano

Narrated by Debra Monk

Unabridged — 11 hours, 31 minutes

A Good Hard Look: A Novel

A Good Hard Look: A Novel

by Ann Napolitano

Narrated by Debra Monk

Unabridged — 11 hours, 31 minutes

Audiobook (Digital)

$17.50
FREE With a B&N Audiobooks Subscription | Cancel Anytime
$0.00

Free with a B&N Audiobooks Subscription | Cancel Anytime

START FREE TRIAL

Already Subscribed? 

Sign in to Your BN.com Account


Listen on the free Barnes & Noble NOOK app


Related collections and offers

FREE

with a B&N Audiobooks Subscription

Or Pay $17.50

Overview

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."


Editorial Reviews

OCTOBER 2011 - AudioFile

Napolitano’s book, set during the two years preceding the death of its pivotal character, Flannery O’Connor, is fiction, not biography. On the night before Cookie and Melvin’s wedding, O’Connor’s peacocks set up an unholy racket, leading to a series of bizarre events. With sections divided into “Good,” “Hard,” and “Look,” Debra Monk’s performance deftly delineates each of the characters whose lives appear to revolve around the famous ailing author. (O’Connor suffered from lupus, the autoimmune disease that killed her father.) Monk offers an unsentimental O’Connor and a confused, unhappy Melvin. She manages a subtle shrewishness as Cookie and mind-numbing ennui as Lona, the police chief’s wife. Napolitano’s stark prose depicts the unexamined lives of the residents of Milledgeville, Georgia, O’Connor’s hometown, and Monk delivers all truthfully. S.J.H. © AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine

From the Publisher

"In A Good Hard Look, Ann Napolitano creates a fictional version of the life of the acclaimed southern writer that is as vibrantly colorful as the peacocks raised on the O'Connor family farm in Milledgeville, Georgia...Napolitano makes no attempt to mimic O'Connor's singular style, but she does succeed in creating a wholly believable world shaped by duty, small pleasures, and fateful choices." --O Magazine

"Napolitano's protagonist is a marvelously outspoken, uncompromising force who becomes the impetus for several fictional Milledgeville residents to reassess and radically alter their lives...[Napolitano] has spun an absorbing, old-fashioned tale about how, as in Flannery O'Connor's stories, 'Grace changes a person....And change is painful.'" --The Washington Post

"To brand this a quaint period piece...would be doing Napolitano's evocative tale of friendship and community a disservice." --Entertainment Weekly

"Ann Napolitano's novel, A Good Hard Look, with O'Connor occupying a central role, does the Georgia author proud. Be prepared to like this book. It's complicated and peacock-haunted and strange...' Does one's integrity ever lie in what he's unable to do?' O'Connor once asked. At the heart of Napolitano's brave book lies that question: the mysteries of freedom, its price, and the unmarked paths we take to get there." --Atlanta Journal Constitution

"From almost the first page, this novel seemed real. I could feel, somehow, the characters' seemingly pre-ordained retreat from grace as a deceptively simple plot unfolded in Milledgeville, Ga., where O'Connor returned to live out her final days in the early 1950s.... This narrative is a great story, almost light at times, often very funny--but always with the knowledge that this propped-up happiness too shall end.... there will be survivors, and they will find a touch more grace in their lives. What is less obvious is that Napolitano will somehow make you one of those survivors thinking about your own rocky road to redemption." --Jackson Free Press

"The fact that an at-her-prime, seriously ill Flannery O'Connor is one of its main characters, while it might have overwhelmed a lesser novel, doesn't drown this one; Napolitano doesn't seek to emulate O'Connor's style (other than by being, also, pointedly southern), but crafts, though characters (stunt-cast or no) her own powerful argument for living honestly...muggy, deeply enthralling, and worth a read." --Booklist

"Napolitano doesn't attempt to mimic Flannery O'Connor's writing style, turning instead to her own lyric take on the human condition. She's not written a biography of Flannery, though the character is well rooted in research....While [Flannery's] interaction is key to the story, she is a catalyst. One cannot imagine the novel without her, but she is just one in a cast of fully fleshed- out and entrancing characters." --Denver Post

"Ann Napolitano's second novel, A Good Hard Look, is haunted by those peacocks and by O'Connor herself. Though Napolitano doesn't try to write like O'Connor -- her gentle, quietly elegant prose is worlds away from the powerful, often devastatingly harsh Southern Gothic world in which O'Connor dwelled -- her book nonetheless emerges as a graceful tribute, not only to a writer, but to a time and place." --Seattle Times

Library Journal

Napolitano, who did nicely when she debuted with Within Arm's Reach, now tries for something rich and ambitious with a second novel starring Flannery O'Connor. When New Yorker Melvin Whiteson comes to Milledgeville, GA, with his fiancée, the town's reigning Southern belle, he's much taken by O'Connor—she represents the choices he didn't make and the life he could have had. A first look suggests that this is sharp and thoughtfully written; great for book clubs, so be glad that there's a guide.

OCTOBER 2011 - AudioFile

Napolitano’s book, set during the two years preceding the death of its pivotal character, Flannery O’Connor, is fiction, not biography. On the night before Cookie and Melvin’s wedding, O’Connor’s peacocks set up an unholy racket, leading to a series of bizarre events. With sections divided into “Good,” “Hard,” and “Look,” Debra Monk’s performance deftly delineates each of the characters whose lives appear to revolve around the famous ailing author. (O’Connor suffered from lupus, the autoimmune disease that killed her father.) Monk offers an unsentimental O’Connor and a confused, unhappy Melvin. She manages a subtle shrewishness as Cookie and mind-numbing ennui as Lona, the police chief’s wife. Napolitano’s stark prose depicts the unexamined lives of the residents of Milledgeville, Georgia, O’Connor’s hometown, and Monk delivers all truthfully. S.J.H. © AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine

Product Details

BN ID: 2940172225307
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 07/07/2011
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 998,565
From the B&N Reads Blog

Customer Reviews