Originally posted: October 7, 2007. Over the weekend I read Ruffly Speaking, which features two hard of hearing characters and one hearing ear dog. This book by Susan Conant is worthy of note for its description of Rita, a middle aged woman, who has difficulty acknowledging her hearing loss and experiences a rough adjustment to hearing aids. Rita is the friend of Holly, the mystery's amateur detective. Holly is the one who convinces her to get her hearing tested and even goes so far as to try wearing Rita's hearing aids to understand what she's experiencing. The Ruffly of the title is the hearing ear dog of a female Episcopal priest. The dog's unusual behavior and the mysterious cutting out of her owner's hearing aids are all part of the strange happenings surrounding the recent death of a friend of Holly's.
This is the first novel I've come across with a hard of hearing character. I emailed author Susan Conant about Rita and found out that she is included in other books of the series but mainly as a minor character. One book that features her more prominently is Gaits of Heaven. However, in that story her hearing loss is not mentioned because she has adapted to it. Amusingly, Conant also said that readers can assume that Rita would now own the spiffy new kind of hearing aids available in a variety of colors.