Wednesday, December 18, 2013
My Choice for Book of the Year: The Good House
THE GOOD HOUSE by Ann Leary packs both wisdom and laughs plus a few tears into its 292 delightful pages.
Hildy Good narrates her own story. Like most of us, she tends to gloss over her faults and find something else to talk about. With this unreliable narrator at the helm, we are soon hanging on her every word. We know she's either leaving something out or stretching the truth.
Hildy is in her sixties. She reminds everyone, frequently, that she is the most successful business woman in her little New England seaside town. That she has been to rehab for her alcoholism is simply more foolishness from her two daughters. Those daughters! Who are they to think they know one thing about their mother? Hildy loves her little grandson, Grady, and feels sad when she is not trusted as a babysitter.
She goes about her life, feeling the pinch of the recession in the housing market. She's happy to make a new friend in Rebecca, a rich outsider. But with Rebecca, she feels freer to drink. Who likes to drink alone anyway? Alcoholics, and she's not that. Why would anyone think she was?
House deals, an autistic child, a rough-around-the-edges town handyman she's known all her life, Hildy encounters plenty of complications, too many balls in the air. She thinks maybe she deserves a little more wine, a few slugs of vodka. As her alcoholism escalates, her behavior deteriorates. This would be funny in a sardonic way if Hildy could see what was happening to her. But she is blind to her own faults, and as readers, we know things are going to get much, much worse, especially once Hildy has allowed Rebecca to confess some details of her affair.
Ann Leary handles the action and the characters with good pacing. The characters are fully developed (albeit through Hildy's jaundiced viewpoint). Turning the last page, I was satisfied as a reader with the book's conclusion, but sorry I wouldn't have more time with Hildy and her town full of secrets.