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October 12, 2013

The Good House



The Good House by Ann Leary
Fiction
2013 Picador/McMillan Audio
Reader: Mary Beth Hurt
Finished: 8/9/13
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)



Overview (from the author’s website):

How can you prove you’re not an alcoholic? It’s like trying to prove you’re not a witch. You can’t.

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 is by turns 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.


I love audio books and after reading several positive reviews for The Good House, I decided to add it to my Nano. Unfortunately, after listening for a couple of days, I gave up. I didn’t care for Mary Beth Hurt’s voice and it felt like the story was going nowhere. But then I read the following on Staci’s blog:
This is the best audio presentation that I've experienced to date!! Mary Beth Hurt WAS Hildy Good. I loved her raspy voice and she absolutely nailed the accent and the whole vibe of the character. I was struck with how immediate the faces, the houses, and the whole town came to life within my mind as I was listening. There was never a dull moment and I found myself anxiously wanting to return to my iPhone to listen to the story.

Recommend? YES! This will probably be in my top favorite books and audios of the year! Hildy captured my attention from her very first sentence, she made me laugh out loud at her inappropriate thoughts, shaking my head in exasperation at her justification of "it's only wine, I can handle my wine." This was a brilliant audio production of a stellar book!!

I have always found Staci’s recommendations for audio books to be spot on with my reading tastes, so I decided to give the book a second chance. She was right. Mary Beth Hurt is Hildy Good! Once I got used to her voice, and the storyline picked up, I was hooked. The humor had me laughing out loud (particularly during a Thanksgiving dinner scene) and there’s a fair amount of suspense as the book draws to a close, which had me on the edge of my seat.

On houses vs. homes:
I like a house that looks lived in. General wear and tear is a healthy sign; a house that's too antiseptic speaks as much to me of domestic discord as a house in complete disarray. Alcoholics, hoarders, binge eaters, addicts, sexual deviants, philanderers, depressives - you name it, I can see it all in the worn edges of their nests.

Final Thoughts:

All in all, this is a winner, but the slow start knocks my rating down a notch.

Breaking News:

As I was perusing Ann Leary's blog, I discovered this. I love De Niro and Streep and can't wait to see this film!!

16 comments:

  1. I liked this book too but didn't love Hurt's voice as much as everyone else so I get why you struggled at the beginning.

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    1. I'm not sure how I'll like Hurt in another audio book, though! I do think Meryl Streep will be a wonderful Hildy, don't you?!

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  2. I really enjoyed this one - just a good enjoyable story for me.

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    1. I thought it was interesting how is suddenly felt like a thriller toward the end. Yep, good story!

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  3. Great review Les! This one is definitely on my TBR list.

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    1. Thanks, Iliana. Hope you enjoy it, too! Have a great weekend!

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  4. I loved this book too. I read, though, didn't listen.

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    1. Good to know that it's just as good in print as it is on audio. Can't wait to see the movie!!

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  5. It's odd how a positive review by someone you trust can provoke you toward taking a second look at a book. And how often that second look makes you change your mind about the story. Odd.

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    1. I wonder how many other books I've ditched would turn out to be winners if I'd only give them a second chance. It's usually a gut feeling that makes me try again.

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  6. I loved this one! Hildy's 'voice' initially shocked me, but I quickly grew to love the audio production. My review will be posted (finally) later this week.

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    1. This is a case of sticking with it until the story grabs you, that's for sure. I'm glad it turned out to be a winner for you, too!

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  7. I hear great things about this one on audio but it certainly sounds like it's worth a read either way.

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    1. If you enjoy audios, I go that route. The reader is outstanding!

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  8. I liked this one a little less than you, but agree about the narrator!

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    1. Yep. Without this particular reader, I doubt I would have enjoyed it as well.

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