A Good Hard Look: An Emotional Novel
There is so much going on in this novel. First of all, Napolitano brings Flannery O'Connor back to life. Well-known as a real-life Southern writer, Flannery is a unique woman and Napolitano weaves facts of her life into this book with ease. After being diagnosed with lupus, Flannery finds herself back on her mother's farm in Milledgeville, GA, and she chooses to be surrounded by peacocks.
Throughout the book, the peacocks have an overwhelming influence on the lives of everyone living in Milledgeville. It's like they carry out what Flannery is herself incapable of doing. Cookie, who has returned to Millegeville to marry her NYC fiance Melvin, is especially affected by the birds. They alter her wedding, her subsequent marriage, and even the life of her only child.
So much happens to the people in the book that I couldn't put it down. I wanted to see happy endings for everyone. Or at least to know how they recover from affairs, death, illness, and shattered dreams.
In addition to the story of Cookie and Melvin, Napolitano shares with us Bill and Lona, whose marriage is in shambles long before we meet them. Taking a job designing curtains for Cookie and Melvin ultimately changes Lona's life forever, as well as that of her assistant. Things just keep happening in A Good Hard Look, and it left me breathless to keep up.
I have always loved books that fall into the historical fiction genre, and A Good Hard Look did not disappoint. Although I suffered heartache right along with the characters, I love this book. Isn't that the point of writing such an emotional novel? To draw in readers? To make them feel something?
Napolitano definitely succeeded.