Reader reviews and comments on A Good Hard Look, plus links to write your own review.

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A Good Hard Look

A Novel

By Ann Napolitano

A Good Hard Look
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Hardcover: Jul 2011,
    336 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2012,
    352 pages.

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There are currently 21 reader reviews for A Good Hard Look
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Stacey Bosworth (06/28/11)

An Authentic Life -- A Beautiful Book!
I just finished reading Ann Napolitano's latest book and I was immediately drawn into a world so rich with characters struggling to find themselves that the entire experience of reading the book took me on a personal journey as well.

Napolitano's unflinching Flannery is so real and the beautiful prose simply demand your attention. I couldn't put the book down and I have a feeling the characters will linger in my imagination and heart for a good long time. A must read for this summer!
Marganna K. (Edmonds, WA) (05/22/11)

Too Simple -
I cannot give this book more than a "2 - poor". The writing style is very simple - short sentences: subject - verb; subject - verb. The characters are, at best, two dimensional. Many triangles of sad, unhappy, unfulfilled folks. I have not read Flannery O'Connor's works, but I trust it has more substance than this attempt of historical fictional.

I was interested in various aspects of the characters lives - by skimming the pages I could tolerate the poor writing style and find glimmers of character involvement that pushed the pages to be turned so I could finish the book and write the review.

Everything about this book was just too simple to satisfy my tastes in reading. I'm glad many other reviewers enjoyed it - mk
Kathrin C. (Corona, CA) (05/07/11)

195 p. GOOD; 99 p. HARD and 35 p. LOOK!
I first read this novel over a month ago, and then also read another half dozen books and so unfortunately lost track of the finer points. So I've just re-read it - and I am very glad I did. Some books are simply born to be re-read, and then probably read again!

Very much in the way Melvin thought of Flannery O'Connor, this novel strategically rubbed the facade of the many social pretenses right off everyday small town social interactions. The novel was intriguing, with moments of brilliance, and lead the reader to look very closely at the things that really matter between the people in our lives!

High recommended - for both personal reading and for book group discussions.
Terye B. (Scotts Valley, CA) (05/02/11)

Absorbing book
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was transfixed from the beginning. I began the story wanting to learn about Flannery O'Conner and found so much more. The tone was exceptional to me, it drew me in with it's Southern charm. Highly recommend this book.
Barbara W. (Watertown, NY) (05/01/11)

Thought Provoking With Engaging Characters
Absorbing read that engages you right from the start. You don't have to be familiar with O'Connor's work to enjoy the story about the author and her effect on the characters around her but you might be inspired to read some of the short stories mentioned in the book. The book is full of themes and symbolism making it a great read for a book club; all in all, a good story told well.
Ken F. (Mukwonago, Wisconsin) (04/30/11)

A fine novel, perfect for reading groups
I finished reading A Good Hard Look a few days ago, but the squawk of those nasty magnificent peacocks still resonates. Flannery O’Connor and her final years at Andalusia, her family farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, is at the core of this powerful novel. I didn’t know much about O’Connor when I started the book. I know much more now and I have one of her collections on hold at my local library.

Ann Napolitano has written a compelling story with a Southern Gothic feel. I loved the way that the major characters lives intertwined, amid the horrible noise of those darned peacocks. I became particularly involved with the marriage of Cookie and Melvin…a comedy of errors laced with tragedy…and the aftermath of that relationship. And Melvin’s friendship with Flannery was fascinating; two lonely people coming together out of need.

In fact, the novel is filled with lonely people making choices and having to live with the outcome of those choices. And I felt for those characters. I wanted them to find the right path through their hardships. Some do, some don’t. Such is life.

I work at Books & Company, an independent bookstore in Oconomowoc, WI. A Good Hard Look will surely end up on my recommend shelf. It’s a novel that moved me and involved me. It’s a fine novel, perfect for reading group discussions.
Nancy G. (Oceanside, California) (04/25/11)

Improbable Villains
Well written, engrossing and shocking at times - it kept me turning the pages. The author's description of the characters was a little uneven - I would have liked to know a few of these people a bit better. The hateful feelings that two of the main women characters had for each other seemed a little over done, however. Who can carry animosity to that extreme? Maybe I'm just naive.The unlikely attachment two other characters developed for each other became more reckless as time went on and the end of that affair was a violent shock. The most unbelievable part of the book was the use of the peacocks. I've not read anything quite like it! Sometimes I judge a book by gauging whether my book club(s) would like it! In this case, I'm still undecided.
Rebecca W. (Mansfield, PA) (04/18/11)

A Good Hard Look Looks Good
Napolitano's insight into the lives of Flannery O'Conner and the townspeople of Midgeville really gives readers something to sink their teeth into. The people, the events and the dialog are believable and easy for the reader to relate to. Flannery's cynical observations hurt because they are truthful and to see the downward spiral of all the characters becomes a reflection of Flannery's own feelings about her health and loneliness. However, the ending leaves readers with just the right amount of hope that everything will turn out ok.
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Beyond the Book:
  Southern Gothic

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