Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Good House by Ann Leary

The Good House
by Ann Leary
4 stars - not the same book as the dust cover
ALR Green - some dogs make a few brief appearances

I'm fairly certain that somebody recommended this book to me. Thank you. It was awesome.

Nothing "darkly comic" that I can see here. The story is narrated by Hildy Good. She's a realtor, operating out of her hometown of Wendover (choke - see final paragraph) on the pricey north shore outside of Boston. At the age of sixty, or thereabouts, she's living a solitary life (divorced) with her two dogs. While she's familiar with all the inhabitants of the community, not many she would call friends. Why? Well, that brings us to what I believe is the central theme of the book. Alcoholism.

While Hildy as an alcoholic is given brief mention on the dust cover, it is really the driving force behind how events unfold for her. Kudos to Ms. Leary who really has the alcoholic mind down pat. 

So while Hildy struggles with her addiction, into town comes Rebecca McCallister. Hildy and Rebecca become friends of sorts, but unfortunately Rebecca has a few screws loose and isn't necessarily the person one should seek out as a buddy. 

The writing was great. Like stay up too late reading great. In retrospect, nothing particularly extraordinary happened, but perhaps that was part of the allure. As I've said before, the life one lives in one's own head is always of overwhelming import and so as rather mundane (in the bigger picture) things happen, they become as large to the reader as to the characters experiencing them. We've got adultery, lying, stealing, hurt between family members, and small town gossip. You can find that everywhere. 

Annoying nit... while the author uses the names of just about every town on the North Shore of Massachusetts, she sets the novel in a town that doesn't exist. I had to place the action in Winthrop, even though geographically it seems a bit removed from the other towns the characters frequent. I just kind of had a brain fart every time I saw the word "Wendover."


  1. You've definitely piqued my curiosity! I don't know if I mentioned The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry to you, but I really enjoyed it. I'm hoping to start Tell The Wolves I'm Home one of these days soon.

  2. I read a book set in Greenwich, CT recently, but the main character lived in Stamford and frequently visited Redding (where my uncle lived, next to the town I lived in for 5 years), and Litchfield. I was very annoyed with the transit times described between these places - did she travel by Volvo helicopter instead of Volvo beat-up station wagon? And the elm tree lined driveways? I've never seen elm trees except the genetically modified ones I planted in my yard about 10 years ago. Has the author not heard of Dutch Elm Blight? It's harder to read a book set in a place you know well when there are such glaring inaccuracies. But this sounds like a good read, one that feels like a slice of life.