Saturday, March 2, 2013
The Good House by Ann Leary
How can you prove you're not an alcoholic?
It's like trying to prove you're not a witch.
Hildy Good is a townie. A lifelong resident of an historic community on the rocky coast of Boston’s North Shore, she knows pretty much everything about everyone. Hildy is a descendant of one of the witches hung in nearby Salem, and is believed, by some, to have inherited psychic gifts. Not true, of course; she’s just good at reading people. Hildy is good at lots of things. A successful real-estate broker, mother and grandmother, her days are full. But her nights have become lonely ever since her daughters, convinced their mother was drinking too much, staged an intervention and sent her off to rehab. Now she’s in recovery—more or less.
Alone and feeling unjustly persecuted, Hildy needs a friend. She finds one in Rebecca McCallister, a beautiful young mother and one of the town’s wealthy newcomers. Rebecca feels out-of-step in her new surroundings and is grateful for the friendship. And Hildy feels like a person of the world again, as she and Rebecca escape their worries with some harmless gossip, and a bottle of wine by the fire—just one of their secrets.
But not everyone takes to Rebecca, who is herself the subject of town gossip. When Frank Getchell, an eccentric local who shares a complicated history with Hildy, tries to warn her away from Rebecca, Hildy attempts to protect her friend from a potential scandal. Soon, however, Hildy is busy trying to cover her own tracks and protect her reputation. When a cluster of secrets become dangerously entwined, the reckless behavior of one threatens to expose the other, and this darkly comic novel takes a chilling turn.
The Good House by Ann Leary is funny, poignant, and terrifying. A classic New England tale that lays bare the secrets of one little town, this spirited novel will stay with you long after the story has ended.
Once I read that The Good House was a novel partly about real estate and Boston's North Shore, I knew that I wanted to read it. I'm often in Gloucester, MA visiting my uncle and love the quiet, unassuming town. It was fascinating to read about a small New England town from the perspective of Hildy Good, a woman whose family's roots date back to the Salem Witch trials, over 300 years.
Leary so authentically captures the voices and points of view of locals and the new residents. We learn about the families that have owned and held the land and still continue to do so with typical New England thrift and discretion. Frank Getchell who has some of the most valuable real estate works the town hauling/garbage concession and acts as handyman for nearly every household and gets very little respect. But his ties to Hildy go way back and this complicated relationship is one of the more interesting parts of the book.
Hildy's alcohol problem is dealt with sensitively and with humor. So are the other dark secrets that are slowly unveiled.
If you're looking for an entertaining read set in New England and if you have an interest in real estate, I think you'll find The Good House an excellent escape.
ISBN-10: 1250015545 - Hardcover $24.99
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (January 15, 2013), 304 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
About the Author:
Ann Leary’s latest book is the New York Times and national bestselling novel, The Good House. She is the also the author of the memoir An Innocent, A Broad and the novel Outtakes From a Marriage. and The Good House. She has written fiction and nonfiction for various magazines and is a co-host of the NPR weekly radio show Hash Hags.
Ann tries to compete in equestrian sports and is a volunteer EMT.
She lives on a small farm in Connecticut with her husband, Denis Leary and their two children and numerous pets. Learn more about her on her website http://annleary.com/