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Extended Audio Sample A Good Hard Look, by Ann Napolitano Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (670 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ann Napolitano Narrator: Debra Monk Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In Flannery O’Connor’s hometown of Milledgeville, Georgia, reckless relationships lead to a tragedy that forever alters the town—and the author herself.

Crippled by lupus at twenty-five, celebrated author Flannery O’Connor was forced to leave New York City and return home to Andalusia, her family farm in Milledgeville, Georgia. Years later, as Flannery is finishing a novel and tending to her menagerie of peacocks, her mother drags her to the wedding of a family friend.

Cookie Himmel embodies every facet of Southern womanhood that Flannery lacks: she is revered for her beauty and grace; she is at the helm of every ladies’ organization in town; and she has returned from her time in Manhattan with a rich fiancé, Melvin Whiteson. Melvin has come to Milledgeville to begin a new chapter in his life, but it is not until he meets Flannery that he starts to take a good hard look at the choices he has made. Despite the limitations of her disease, Flannery seems to be more alive than other people, and Melvin is drawn to her like a moth to a candle flame.

And Melvin isn’t the only person in Milledgeville who starts to feel that life is passing him by. Lona Waters, the dutiful wife of a local policeman, is hired by Cookie to help create a perfect home. As Lona spends her days sewing curtains, she is given an opportunity to remember what it feels like to be truly alive—and she seizes it with both hands.

Heartbreakingly beautiful and inescapably human, these ordinary and extraordinary people chart their own courses through life. In the aftermath of one tragic afternoon, they are all forced to look at themselves and face up to Flannery’s observation that “the truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Flannery O’Connor fans will be drawn to this fictionalized version of her later years as a strong-willed, deeply lonely genius.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “To brand this a quaint period piece…would be doing Napolitano’s evocative tale of friendship and community a disservice.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Napolitano makes no attempt to mimic O’Connor’s singular style, but she does succeed in creating a wholly believable world shaped by duty, small pleasures, and fateful choices.”

    O Magazine

  • Selected for the July 2011 Indie Next List
  • A 2011 NPR Best Book
  • Recommended on Oprah’s Summer Reading List in 2011

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Cathy Hartle | 2/14/2014

    " Well-written; kept my attention; very picturesque telling of a thought-provoking story. Really intriguing way of bringing a real person into this novel as a key character. Look forward to discussing at our book club. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Heatherherwig | 2/14/2014

    " so many people loved this book. I did not. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Yancey | 2/12/2014

    " I guess I'm on a streak of reading fictional books about actual people. Flannery O'Connor is one of the main characters in this book, and she's just as strange as you imagine she would be. I liked the book... good, interesting characters. But like an O'Connor story, tragedy strikes quickly and pretty unexpectedly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Carol | 2/9/2014

    " Good book about how life can change in a matter of minutes. Set in Milledgevile Ga and with Flannery OConner as a character, the well crafted story reminds me a little of Flannery's stories but the characters are able to redeem themselves in the end. Good read. "

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