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.
Napolitano's second novel (after Within Arm's Reach) is a study in the rural milieu of Milledgeville, Ga., whose famous resident is known not only for her writing, but also for keeping peacocks and for other colorful proclivities. Wealthy New Yorker Melvin Whiteson meets Flannery O'Connor at his wedding to the beautiful but insecure Cookie, who has persuaded him to relocate to her hometown. Melvin forms an unlikely friendship with Flannery, and keeps it secret from his wife, who's intimidated by the author. While explaining one of her stories to Melvin, Flannery telegraphs Napolitano's primary theme: "it's possible that the characters are closer to grace at the end of the stories. Grace changes a person, you know. And change is painful." Cookie slowly becomes an integral part of high society by serving on numerous committees and creating an enviable house. She enlists the interior design help of Lona Waters, a lonely seamstress stuck in a lifeless marriage with a police officer, and Lona soon rediscovers her purpose in the arms of a 17-year-old boy, an impetuous act that will have a great impact on a number of Milledgeville residents. Though Napolitano steeps her tale in the Southern gothic made famous by her famous character, she could have used O'Connor's help with her prose.
A Good Hard Look
Loved this book - a page-turner - Can't wait ti discuss it at our book group...
I loved this book. I read it the first time for pleasure and liked it so much that I recommended it to the two book clubs to which I belong. Then I read it a second time so that I could lead a discussion of the book. I enjoyed it the second time perhaps even more than the first.
A Good Hard Look
This is the perfect summer (spring, winter or fall). It begins slowly in keeping with the tempo of the smallSouthern town where it is set. But be prepared for an amazing jolt as the story unfolds. A marvelous book!
It is on Oprah's summer reading list as well as July Indie Next List pick.