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

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Overview

From the New York Times bestselling author of Hello Beautiful and Dear Edward, a novel set in Flannery O'Connor's*hometown of Milledgeville,*and*a tragedy that forever alters the town and the author herself

"A wholly believable world shaped by duty, small pleasures, and fateful choices."-O, The Oprah Magazine


Forced by illness to leave behind a successful life in New York, literary icon Flannery O'Connor has returned to her family farm in the small town of Milledgeville, Georgia. With her health and time both limited, all she wants is to be left alone to write.

But Flannery's plans are soon upended by Melvin Whiteson, a banker from Manhattan who has recently married the town belle. Melvin is at loose ends with his new life; though he has every opportunity, he's not sure where to begin. Flannery knows exactly what she wants, but is running out of time. Through their unusual and clandestine friendship, both will come to reflect on the decisions they have made and the paths they have chosen.

Literary history and fiction gracefully intersect in this emotionally charged novel of small town Southern life, which asks us all to consider how we can live our lives to the fullest.

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: 410,889
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