The Good House by Ann Leary
|The Good House by Ann Leary|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: How to prove you're not an alcoholic? Hildy Good is an unreliable narrator, but delivers a good story. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: October 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Hildy Good has reached a strange stage in her life. She's entering her seventh decade (that's one of the few phrases that make sixty feel good) and divorced. Most people - Hildy included - would have said that she had a lot of friends, but the reality is a little different. Her daughters had staged an intervention because they thought that her drinking had got out of control and after a period in rehab Hildy found social occasions a little difficult. Evenings spent at home - on her own - were no fun.
Until she found the case of wine in the cellar, that is.
Her daughters had missed it when they cleared all the alcohol from the house and just an occasional drink wasn't going to harm, was it? Hildy knew that she wasn't - and never had been - an alcoholic. Her drinking was in control; she could stop any time that she liked and she never did any harm even when she'd perhaps had a little too much. Rear-ending the police cruiser was, well, just an aberration and it would never have come to court if the driver had been someone she knew. Bad luck, eh? Hildy knew most people in the town of Wendover - she'd lived there all her life and her family before her. In fact she was descended from one of the Salem witches. Add to this the fact that she'd brokered many of the house sales in the town and there weren't many secrets that Hildy didn't know.
Author Anne Leary is a recovering alcoholic and she captures - perfectly - the siren call of alcohol and the joy of that first drink. She says that there's a little bit of Hildy in her and that originally Hildy should have been a minor character in the story, but she kept butting in and insisting on telling her side. And what a character she is: feisty but delusional, a good friend, but unreliable after too much to drink. She's prone to blackouts - and it wouldn't be so bad if that meant she passed out in the house and stayed there - but that wasn't always the case. Small towns are hotbeds of secrets and when too many become entwined in Hildy's life no one can predict what will happen.
It's about so much more than Hildy though - and even alcoholism. It's about being part of a community, where being rich doesn't make you happy and being old doesn't mean that you have no libido. There's a community you can believe in - from Jake the child with a disability (as his mother insists - he's not a 'disabled child'), the mentally fragile Rebecca McAllister and Hildy's first lover, Frank Getchell, generally referred to as the garbage man but with more thoughtfulness about him than those who use that phrase.
It's a book to keep. I went back to the beginning to check on a name and found myself saying oh, so that's why... and I was thirty pages into a book I only finished reading last night before I decided that I ought to be doing something else, but it won't be long before I sit down and read the story again - just to see how it was done.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
An alcoholic is someone who drinks more than their doctor - or so my doctor tells me - but If you'd like to hear about the experience of giving up alcohol for a year we can recommend High Sobriety: My Year Without Booze by Jill Stark. If The Good House appeals to you then try Maine by Courtney Sullivan.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Good House by Ann Leary at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Good House by Ann Leary at Amazon.com.
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