Kathrin C. (Corona, CA)
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)
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)
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)
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.
Barbara A. (Roswell, GA)
Well worth the read!
As a Georgia resident (but not native), I thoroughly enjoyed Napolitano's exploration and examination of the lives in a tiny Georgia town, transformed by its most famous daughter, Flannery O'Connor. Napolitano does such a beautiful job of connecting the reader with Flannery and those highlighted individuals from her life, it has spurred me on to read Flannery O'Connor's works. I would highly recommend this book!
Carole G. (Hollidaysburg, PA)
A View From The Grandstand Of Life
This story captured both my interest and my empathy for the various characters from the very first page. As their lives moved forward I sensed a feeling of knowing and understanding each character, their intricacies and motives. A fascinating thread of the ever present peacocks is expertly woven throughout the storyline, perhaps representative of disappointment, passion, dominance, and what you learn to live with. The plot is about life, not as they dream it will be or plan it to be but simply the reality of what is. Lives intermingle, expectations are altered, needs change, people change, opposing forces clash and ... time passes by.
Marjorie A. (32606, Florida)
A Satisfying Read
This book is almost as satisfying as reading Flannery O’Connor. The characters are not as unusual as hers, and yet, to me her themes of morality and ethics that are present in her fiction and essays are a significant part of this plot. Maybe it is because I am a Southerner, or because I am close to O’Connor’s age, I resonated with many of the characters. I am recommending this book to friends