The Bibliophiliac’s Corner – “A Good Hard Look”
By Amanda Merriman
Connection writer Amanda Merriman admits she is hopelessly addicted to books. It has been this way nearly all her life. Every month she shares what she has been reading with the hope that others will share in the obsession too.
Shifting away from World War II and Paris, this month I bring you a book set in the 1960s deeply rooted in the small town of Milledgeville, Georgia. “A Good Hard Look,” Ann Napolitano’s second novel, was published in 2011. A dear friend of mine lent me this book, which pulled her out of a recent reading slump. Intrigued, I began reading.
“Take a good hard look at who you are and what you have and then use it.” – Flannery O’Connor
Napolitano crafted a unique twist on biographical novels with this story that explores the consequences of life choices. The book is divided into three sections derived from the title. The central character of this story is Flannery O’Connor, one of the most celebrated Southern writers of the 20th century. She was a prolific author of short stories, including “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” She also wrote two novels. Her distinctive style gave rise to the Southern Gothic genre. Diagnosed with lupus, O’Connor returned to her family’s farm called Andalusia near Milledgeville toward the end of her life. These facts were the starting point for Napolitano’s book.
The fictional townspeople radiate around O’Connor like spokes on a wheel or an intricate spider web. O’Connor’s fame and persona affect the whole town, some people more than others. Meanwhile, O’Connor wrestles with the inevitable progression of her condition. She longs to escape in her writing but ends up making an unexpected connection.
“Grace changes a person, you know. And change is painful. It’s just like you agnostic types to see the pain, but not the transformation.” – Flannery O’Connor
The foreshadowing at the beginning of this novel plays out in a horrible tragedy as expected. As a result, the people of Milledgeville must learn to pick up the pieces the best way they know how. The characters feel so real that readers will yearn for their redemption.
Fellow bibliophiles and book club members, feel free to join in the dialogue. Blog your thoughts and feedback at www.castlepinesconnection.com and enter the keyword “bibliophiliac” in the search bar. Have you read a great book recently? Email your find to me at email@example.com.