Friday, November 23, 2012

The Good House by Ann Leary

A riveting novel in which an engaging and wildly irreverent woman is in complete denial—about herself, her drinking, and her love for a man she’s known all her life

The Good House tells the story of Hildy Good, who lives in a small town on Boston’s North Shore. Hildy is a successful real-estate broker, good neighbor, mother, and grandmother. She’s also a raging alcoholic. Hildy’s family held an intervention for her about a year before this story takes place—“if they invite you over for dinner, and it’s not a major holiday,” she advises “run for your life”—and now she feels lonely and unjustly persecuted. She has also fooled herself into thinking that moderation is the key to her drinking problem.

As if battling her demons wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Hildy soon finds herself embroiled in the underbelly of her New England town, a craggy little place that harbors secrets. There’s a scandal, some mysticism, babies, old houses, drinking, and desire—and a love story between two craggy sixty-somethings that's as real and sexy as you get. An exceptional novel that is at turns hilarious and sobering, The Good House asks the question: What will it take to keep Hildy Good from drinking? For good.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this book. The blurb made it seem like it was a light-hearted romp in a small New England town, but it also mentioned that the main character, the narrator was an alcoholic in denial. How can a book about an alcoholic be any kind romp? Well, somehow, it manages to be just that.

Hildy, the narrator, is a ball of fun. She is in complete denial about her alcoholism but her voice is so fresh and light that we kind of go into denial with her. That’s what makes her such an interesting character to read about. She is completely unreliable as a narrator, omitting what she wants, but the more we read, the better we like her. There are lots of characters, including the obsessive Rebecca who comes across as both creepy and pitiful, but Hildy is definitely the one you’ll love.

The writing is deceptively simple, but there is a good amount of careful planning on the author’s part. That’s why the story goes so smoothly. The one thing that disappointed me, as it seems to be the case in too many of the books I’ve recently read, was the rushed ending. We didn’t need too much more, but another couple of pages to tie things up would have been nice.

All in all, this is one I’m sure most of you will like.

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