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Hood (1998)

Hood (1998)

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3.58 of 5 Votes: 1
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1555834531 (ISBN13: 9781555834531)
alyson books

About book Hood (1998)

12/20/2013: Here it is January 24. Oops. I got derailed over Christmas, and I’m just getting back to the important work of book reviews! Of course, since much of the point of writing these reviews is to help me remember what I’ve read, and it’s now a month since I finished this book, I…um…don’t remember everything I should about Hood. So this will be short and sweet. I’ve got to catch up!I loved Donoghue’s Room, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2010. And it’s always good to read another novel by an author you think you love, it seems to me. Hood has many of the same qualities as Room. Donoghue creates wonderful characters through first person voice; Jack (the 5-year-old) in Room is an amazing construction. Pen, in Hood, is not quite as sharp or sympathetic, but she is close. Also, Donoghue writes beautifully, with lovely descriptions, memorable scenes, and good pacing, as a rule. Hood could have used more editing, though; although the novel takes place over the course of one week, it felt much longer to me, dragging slightly in places. But I’m avoiding my real issue with Hood. The basic plot is that Pen, the narrator and protagonist, has just found out that her girlfriend Cara (they are a lesbian couple) has been killed in a car accident. The narrative jumps between Pen numbly going through the motions of shock and grief to flashbacks of her long-term relationship with Cara, and ends with Pen, one week later (the chapters are named for the days of the week, the story is strictly chronological), beginning to make peace with Cara, their stormy relationship, and the local lesbian community (whom she has shunned but Cara was close to). Until Cara’s death, Pen had never considered coming out of the closet, even to Cara’s father, with whom they both lived. So her grieving is all mixed up with her inability to claim the relationship, to be Cara’s “widow”, so to speak. All very intense and interior, which normally I like, but here it ended up feeling stressful. Much as I tried to feel progressive and open-minded, I couldn’t connect with the sex scenes, and the jealous arguments the two women seemed to have often were wearing. Still, I’m sure Donoghue was quite aware of readers’ potential reactions when she was writing Hood. Provocative, difficult, uncomfortable—not what I necessarily WANT a novel to be, but that doesn’t mean Donoghue wasn’t being all those things on purpose. (Sorry, that was confusing. I think she did it on purpose.) Why? Because issues are important to her. And novels are as good a way of inciting change as manifestos, I think? But novels wishing to bring about change, or to draw attention to social issues, just aren’t as much fun. I can’t say I enjoyed Hood. I’m not sure I’d really like Donoghue if I met her. But I am glad I read it, and I admire Donoghue very much.

Time to reevaluate Hood. I first read this in college when I was coming out, and it was my favorite book for a long time afterward. In the intervening years, I've included it without thinking on lists of my favorite books or when making recommendations to people - or whatever. Fun fact: I recently re-read this for book club and discovered that I've been remembering the book wrong FOR YEARS.This isn't Emma Donoghue's fault - Hood is a great book! What I correctly remembered of the novel - other than the basic plot, i.e., that Hood is an elegy to narrator Pen's recently deceased lover, Cara - is how beautiful Donoghue's prose is and how well it captures both Pen's sense of loss as well as her anger over Cara's death. For those reasons alone, folks should read it.What I learned on re-reading: (view spoiler)[ I had remembered that the book ended with Pen and Cara's sister hooking up and going to America together. Like, in my mind, when Kate - Cara's sister - comes over for the funeral, she and Pen totally hook up on the last night of her visit. And they're both ok with it because they realize that Cara was kind of full of shit. AND THEN GO TO AMERICA. WTF, college-age Layla! Apparently I was so unable / poorly equipped emotionally to deal with the fact that it is a fucking sad book that I made up a different ending to it. And didn't realize it. SIGH.Other things I had forgotten / not understood at 20: OMG IS CARA THE WORST OR IS SHE THE WORST EVER?(Answer: She's the worst. EVER.)While Donoghue's writing is so, so lovely and poetic, it was really emotionally difficult to get through Hood this time around because I was painfully aware of how awful Cara (the dead girlfriend) is. And I'm like, Pen, you're only 30 and you seem like a hottie! I bet you would get loads of play over at Amazon Attic! SIGH. (hide spoiler)]

Do You like book Hood (1998)?

Again, a book I wouldn't have picked up because I didn't much care for Donoghue's Room. And now I can't imagine not having read this book. It's a great choice for my LGBT literature class, but it's also a great selection for any literature course. The language is spectacular in this novel - influenced by Irish story telling, but also influenced by a deep level of empathy for love and loss and the need to belong. The book follows the experiences of a woman whose lover dies unexpectedly, and is organized by the days of the week following her death. And as the week goes by, the narrative weaves from the present to the past, and from the private to the public. A review doesn't give this book justice - it becomes a filter through which one sees family and lovers and friends and work and faith and even pets. So so so good, and so so so honest.

Written by the author of Room and Slammerkin, Hood is a moving story of love and loss. Taking place during the week of Cara Wall’s funeral, the reader finds themselves at the mercy of Pen O’Grady’s, Cara’s lover of 13 years, sometimes tumultuous, most of the time lacking emotions. Using flashbacks and the days of the week, Donoghue tells the story of Pen and Cara’s relationship while showing Pen’s coping (or lack thereof) with Cara’s death.The novel takes place in Ireland during the late 1990s, when LGBT rights are still minimal and Catholicism rules – the story of grief and love is lyrically written and provides an interesting insight into closeted (be the forced by society or not) relationships and coping with the loss of a partner. This is doubly hard for Pen as she works in a Catholic school, she lives with Cara’s father ‘as a housemate’ and she isn’t out to her own family.Click here to continue reading on my blog The Oddness of Moving Things.

I read this book as part of a challenge to read outside of my normal genres. It won the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Book Award for Literature so it fit one of the categories I needed to fill. It is the story of a young woman morning the sudden loss of her partner of the last 13 years. The story only takes place during one week, however, there are a great deal of flashbacks during that week. I thought that would make for a great love story but to me, it fell way short. Admittedly, the sex scenes were too detailed and uncomfortable so I found myself speed reading through most of them but I don’t think that affected my opinion. I think the author did a good job on the effects of the main character living in the closet with her job and family and thus having to mourn a best friend rather than a lover/spouse but missed many opportunities to show love and instead chose lust. She also seemed to prefer to cheapen the relationship with affairs by one of the women rather than have more romance. Overall, I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone but wish I had picked a better book.

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