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A sophisticated and suspenseful novel about the poignant lives of two women living in different eras. On the day John F. Kennedy is inaugurated, Claire, an uncompromising young wife and mother obsessed with the glamour of Jackie O, struggles over the decision of whether to stay in a loveless marriage or follow the man she loves and whose baby she may be carrying. Decades earlier, in 1919, Vivien Lowe, an obituary writer, is searching for her lover who disappeared in the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. By telling the stories of the dead, Vivien not only helps others cope with their grief but also begins to understand the devastation of her own terrible loss. The surprising connection between Claire and Vivien will change the life of one of them in unexpected and extraordinary ways. Part literary mystery and part love story, The Obituary Writer examines expectations of marriage and love, the roles of wives and mothers, and the emotions of grief, regret, and hope.
An obituary writer searching for her missing lover at the turn of the 20th century is linked to a woman considering leaving her loveless marriage in 1963 in this literary mystery from the best-selling author of The Red Thread. 35,000 first printing.
In 1989, twenty-two-year-old Gordie Hatch takes a job as an obituary writer for the St. Louis Independent, but an encounter with young widow Alice Whiting leads him on an obsessive quest in search of the truth behind the Whiting family.
As the obituary writer in a spectacularly beautiful but often dangerous spit of land in Alaska, Heather Lende knows something about last words and lives well lived. Now she’s distilled what she’s learned about how to live a more exhilarating and meaningful life into three words: find the good. It’s that simple--and that hard. Quirky and profound, individual and universal, Find the Good offers up short chapters that help us unlearn the habit--and it is a habit--of seeing only the negatives. Lende reminds us that we can choose to see any event--starting a new job or being laid off from an old one, getting married or getting divorced--as an opportunity to find the good. As she says, “We are all writing our own obituary every day by how we live. The best news is that there’s still time for additions and revisions before it goes to press.” Ever since Algonquin published her first book, the New York Times bestseller If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name, Heather Lende has been praised for her storytelling talent and her plainspoken wisdom. The Los Angeles Times called her “part Annie Dillard, part Anne Lamott,” and that comparison has never been more apt as she gives us a fresh, positive perspective from which to view our relationships, our obligations, our priorities, our community, and our world. An antidote to the cynicism and self-centeredness that we are bombarded with every day in the news, in our politics, and even at times in ourselves, Find the Good helps us rediscover what’s right with the world. “Heather Lende’s small town is populated with big hearts--she finds them on the beach, walking her granddaughters, in the stories of ordinary peoples’ lives, and knits them into unforgettable tales. Find the Good is a treasure.” —Jo-Ann Mapson, author of Owen’s Daughter “Find the Good is excellent company in unsteady times . . . Heather Lende is the kind of person you want to sit across the kitchen table from on a rainy afternoon with a bottomless cup of tea. When things go wrong, when things go right, her quiet, commonsense wisdom, self-examining frankness, and good-natured humor offer a chance to reset, renew, rebalance.” —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted “With gentle humor and empathy [Lende] introduces a number of people who provide examples of how to live well . . . [Find the Good] is simple yet profound.” —Booklist “In this cynical world, Find the Good is a tonic, a literary wellspring, which will continue to run, and nurture, even in times of drought. What a brave and beautiful thing Heather Lende has made with this book.” —John Straley, Shamus Award winner and former writer laureate of Alaska “Heather Lende is a terrific writer and terrific company: intimate, authentic, and as quirky as any of her subjects.” —Marilyn Johnson, author of The Dead Beat
From the best-selling author of The Obituary Writer, the stirring multigenerational story of an Italian-American family. An Italian Wife is the extraordinary story of Josephine Rimaldi—her joys, sorrows, and passions, spanning more than seven decades. The novel begins in turn-of-the-century Italy, when fourteen-year-old Josephine, sheltered and naive, is forced into an arranged marriage to a man she doesn't know or love who is about to depart for America, where she later joins him. Bound by tradition, Josephine gives birth to seven children. The last, Valentina, is conceived in passion, born in secret, and given up for adoption. Josephine spends the rest of her life searching for her lost child, keeping her secret even as her other children go off to war, get married, and make their own mistakes. Her son suffers in World War One. One daughter struggles to assimilate in the new world of the 1950s American suburbs, while another, stranded in England, grieves for a lover lost in World War Two. Her granddaughters experiment with the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll in the 1970s. Poignant, sensual, and deeply felt, An Italian Wife is a sweeping and evocative portrait of a family bound by love and heartbreak.
Viktor is an aspiring writer with only Misha, his pet penguin, for company. Although he would prefer to write short stories, he earns a living composing obituaries for a newspaper. He longs to see his work published, yet the subjects of his obituaries continue to cling to life. But when he opens the newspaper to see his work in print for the first time, his pride swiftly turns to terror. He and Misha have been drawn into a trap from which there appears to be no escape.
No city in America knows how to mark death with more funerary panache than New Orleans. The pageants commemorating departed citizens are often in themselves works of performance art. A grand obituary remains key to this Stygian passage. And no one writes them like New Orleanian John Pope. Collected here are not just simple, mindless recitations of schools and workplaces, marriages, and mourners bereft. These pieces in Getting Off at Elysian Fields are full-blooded life stories with accounts of great achievements, dubious dabblings, unavoidable foibles, relationships gone sour, and happenstances that turn out to be life-changing. To be sure, there are stories about Carnival monarchs, great philanthropists, and a few politicians. But because New Orleans embraces eccentric behavior, there are stories of people who colored way outside the lines. For instance, there was the doctor who used his plasma to make his flowers grow, and the philanthropist who took money she had put aside for a fur coat to underwrite the lawsuit that desegregated Tulane University. A letter carrier everyone loved turned out to have been a spy during World War II, and a fledgling lawyer changed his lifelong thoughts about race when he saw blind people going into a Christmas party through separate doors—one for white people and another for African Americans. Then there was the punctilious judge who got down on his hands and knees to edge his lawn—with scissors. Because New Orleans funerals are distinctive, the author includes accounts of four that he covered, complete with soulful singing and even some dancing. As a popular, local bumper sticker indisputably declares, “New Orleans—We Put the Fun in Funeral.”

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