Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Good House - Ann Leary (Audio)

We bloggers often talk about where we get our recommendations for the books we read, and most of us would agree that we are significantly influenced by each other.  That was certainly the case with this book.  I hadn't heard anything about it until the bloggers started buzzing.  I was a bit unclear on the specifics, but knowing that it was about small town drama and scandal, from the eyes of an alcoholic-in-denial, was enough to draw me in.

Synopsis:  "How can you prove you're not an alcoholic?  You can't.  It's like trying to prove you're not a witch."  This would inevitably be written on Hildy Good's tombstone.  Not long ago, her grown daughters had staged an intervention with her, and sent her off to rehab.  The nerve!  Drinking just made her more fun!  She has done quite well for herself, after all, so how could she have a problem?  She survived the announcement that her husband was gay, and raised her kids as a single parent with the proceeds of her successful real estate business.  So what if she liked a stiff drink to celebrate a sale?  But to make her daughters happy, and to make sure she gets to see her grandson, she is now "dry".  The wine she drinks at night while skinny-dipping in the river doesn't count.  It helps her from becoming too lonely.

Hildy is a woman that is in touch with her small New England community.  She was born and raised here (she's even a descendant of a witch prosecuted in the Salem Witch Trials), so she knows everyone.  She knows their secrets and their past, and she might (only occasionally) use that information to further her career.  It is maddening that they all seem to judge her for her non-existent "drinking problem".

The game changes for Hildy when newcomer Rebecca, a beautiful, wealthy young mother, moves into town with her family.  Hildy finds a friend, confidant and drinking partner in Rebecca, until it appears that her new friend starts to display reckless behavior and bad judgement.  What starts out as a lark takes a chilling turn, and soon, not only Hildy's reputation is at stake, but people's lives.

My thoughts:  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Having grown up in a small town, I find all the eccentricities recognizable and amusing.  Everyone is in each other's business.  You are never at a loss for who to call if you need your driveway plowed, repairs made around your house, or need a cup a sugar.  The fact that you are getting the inside digs on THIS small town through the eyes of a recovering alcoholic townie is both hilarious and a little sad.

While there are plenty of laughs (thanks to an amazing narration...talk about that in a minute) there are serious problems lurking beneath the surface, which gives the story some levity and a sense of foreboding.  As a reader, it is hard to evaluate potential danger when Hildy can be less than reliable, which is a curious reading experience.  There is something here for everyone!

A few words about the audio production:  Mary Beth Hurt, a TV and movie actress, was our narrator for this audio and was perfectly cast.  PERFECTLY! Her delivery and timing completely exuded Hildy, even her voice depicted a woman of Hildy's age.  She entertained me and took this experience to a whole new level.

Listening length:  10 hours and 12 minutes (304 pages)

4.5 out of 5 stars         




11 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I really liked this book but I'm the only one who had to adjust to Hurt's narration.

Marybeth Whalen said...

I love Mary Beth Hurt not only for her name, but also for her small but memorable performance in one of my all-time favorite movies, THE FAMILY MAN with Nicolas Cage. She plays his smart alec secretary in the beginning. I can so see her narrating the character you described. I'm going to put this on my "to be listened to" list!

Hey, I want to read that! said...

Yup, best part of book blogging is finding books you've never heard of and might miss altogether. Have added this to my list and am off to look for the audio version. Thanks for the great recommend. I love small town fiction.

Carrie said...

I loved her narration, too - it absolutely made the book. Did you hear that they're making a film, starring Meryl Streep as Hildy and Robert De Niro as Frank?

Literary Feline said...

I am really looking forward to reading this one. It's been on my TBR pile since bloggers first started buzzing about it. Now to make time for it . . .

Iliana said...

This definitely sounds interesting. I already like Hildy even if she does have a big problem!

JoAnn said...

I LOVED this audio! It'll definitely be on my list of favorites this year.

Darlene said...

I have this one on audio and can't wait to listen to it. I'm glad you loved it!

Anna said...

This sounds like a book that should be listened to!

Julie P. said...

I thought this book was terrific!!

stacybuckeye said...

Blogging helps us find great books and have a wish list we won't live long enough to finish ;)