The Good House

bookcover of yellow house in snow
Ann Leary
Thursday, Dec 5, 2013

When I picked up this book, I thought the title was reflective of a "good" house as opposed to a "bad" house, but actually the lead character and narrator of the novel is named Hildy Good. Hildy is a successful real estate agent in Wendover, Massachusetts, a town along Boston's north shore, where she "makes it her business to know everybody's business." She is the mother of two grown daughters and is an ex-wife to a husband who revealed to her he was gay after 20-plus years of marriage. This darkly comic story revolves around the fact that she is also a not-so recovering alcoholic, adept at explaining her blackouts as naps, her "one or two drinks—maybe three, tops" as a necessary part of her successful career. She is content with her life and, as most alcoholics are, she is pretty adept at making excuses for her drinking, until she gets a DUI: " I saw the car - I was stopping - but I misjudged the distance, I guess, and rear-ended it. I barely tapped it. I put a tiny dent in the fender, that's all, but, just my luck, it was a state trooper." Her daughters plan an intervention, (or as Hildy calls it, an "inquisition") and so the story begins after she goes to rehab and returns to her job. When Hildy sells the largest house in town to one of New England's richest businessman and becomes friends with his wife, Rebecca McCallister. Hildy enjoys her friendship with the younger Rebecca and takes up for her, as many of Hildy's longtime friends find fault with her and look at her as an outsider. Ann Leary is a marvelous storyteller and drew me into the book with her real and complex characters and their intertwining lives.

The book has been optioned for a movie and I can hardly wait to see someone like Meryl Streep bring Hildy Good to life on the screen. Ann Leary has written fiction and non-fiction for various magazines and literary journals and this is her third book. She co-hosted the NPR weekly show, Hash Hags and is a volunteer EMT in her Connecticut town. She is the wife of actor Denis Leary.

Sarah A.

Written by Sarah A.

Fun fact: I make a mean chocolate cake!