For as avid of a reader and podcast listener as I am, I don’t listen to books very often. Audio books are hard for me to get into because I tend to listen and do at the same time, be it commuting, traveling, or working out (yes, I listen to podcasts while I run. Go ahead and giggle). And if something else grabs my attention, be it a neighborhood dog lunging for my apparently delicious tennis shoes or an announcement of a train delay, I can’t just trace back to where I was in an audio book like I can on paper.
However, when Macmillan Audio contacted me about the audio release of Ann Leary’s The Good House, I accepted their offer of a review copy. I did not regret it.
Leary’s novel about a middle-aged New England real estate professional is a darkly funny yet touching portrait of a woman and her community. Hildy Good is an alcoholic who is (sort of) in recovery, dealing with a slow business year and her fair share of interpersonal relationship problems. Her inner monologue skewers everything from townie weirdness to politically-correct educational methods to East Coast WASPiness with a wry sense of humor. Yet Hildy’s own vulnerabilities keep her brash observations from taking over the story. And as the novel delves into the literary worlds of mysteries and thrillers later in the story, Hildy’s voice is a constant–if unreliable–witness.
For how down-to-earth and practical Hildy is, she has a whimsical side. The undercurrent reference to her persecuted female predecessors, whether they are victims in the Salem witch trials or her misunderstood bipolar mother, puts an interesting twist on Hildy’s “mind reading” parlor tricks and her perceived second-class status as a recovering alcoholic. Continue reading »