Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: "The Good House" by Ann Leary

I thought this was a pretty terrific book. It had quirky (but not annoying) characters, an engaging and intriguing plot, and great writing. Who could ask for more?

Hildy Good has lived her whole life in Wendover, Massachusetts, an historic town on Boston's North Shore. She's proud of the fact that one of her ancestors, Sarah Good, was one of the first women hanged for witchcraft during the Salem trials, and many women in her family have claimed to have some type of psychic gift. Some people say Hildy can read minds, which isn't true—she's just really good at reading people and predicting behavior.

Except her own. This successful real estate broker has a bit of a drinking problem. Well, maybe more than a bit, as a year ago, her two daughters staged an intervention and sent her to rehab. Since then, she's always felt a little awkward at parties where everyone drinks—more because she feels people are staring at her than she's actually fighting the desire to drink. But there's nothing wrong with an occasional glass of wine at night when she's by herself, right? Right?

The problem about living in a small town is that you know everyone and everyone knows you. So when Hildy strikes up a friendship with Rebecca McCallister, a wealthy but lonely wife and mother, she sees this as a wonderful complement to her life. Until she realizes Rebecca's life is a little more complex than Hildy is interested in knowing. Meanwhile, Hildy is vacillating about her attraction to the least likely of men in town, and doesn't know what to do about that.

This book really has a little of everything. There's intrigue, illicit love, emotional discovery, missing children, and some great plot twists. More than a few times I wondered where Ann Leary was going to take her story and I enjoyed how it flowed. But more than that, I really loved Hildy's character. She's not always easy to love, although you understand more and more just why that is, but she's tremendously memorable, and I found myself completely engaged in her story.

This is a really well-written book that is sometimes moving, sometimes funny, and completely worth reading.

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