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The Good House: A Novel | [Ann Leary]

The Good House: A Novel

The Good House tells the story of Hildy Good, who lives in a small town on Boston's North Shore. Hildy is a successful real-estate broker, good neighbor, mother, and grandmother. She's also a raging alcoholic. Hildy's family held an intervention for her about a year before this story takes place - "if they invite you over for dinner, and it’s not a major holiday," she advises "run for your life" - and now she feels lonely and unjustly persecuted. She has also fooled herself into thinking that moderation is the key.
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, 2014

A riveting novel in which an engaging and wildly irreverent woman is in complete denial - about herself, her drinking, and her love for a man she's known all her life.

The Good House tells the story of Hildy Good, who lives in a small town on Boston's North Shore. Hildy is a successful real-estate broker, good neighbor, mother, and grandmother. She's also a raging alcoholic. Hildy's family held an intervention for her about a year before this story takes place - "if they invite you over for dinner, and it's not a major holiday," she advises "run for your life" - and now she feels lonely and unjustly persecuted. She has also fooled herself into thinking that moderation is the key to her drinking problem.

As if battling her demons wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Hildy soon finds herself embroiled in the underbelly of her New England town, a craggy little place that harbors secrets. There's a scandal, some mysticism, babies, old houses, drinking, and desire - and a love story between two craggy 60-somethings that's as real and sexy as you get. An exceptional novel that is at turns hilarious and sobering, The Good House asks the question: What will it take to keep Hildy Good from drinking? For good.

©2012 Ann Leary (P)2013 Macmillan Audio

What Members Say

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  •  
    Rhonda Morrison Worcester, MA 01-31-13
    Rhonda Morrison Worcester, MA 01-31-13 Member Since 2012

    Film Lover

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    "What a great book, Hildy is a great character!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Good House to be better than the print version?

    I wanted to read Leary because she is a transplanted New Englander like me (married to actor/comedian Denis Leary) and I loved her story about alchoholic Hildy, Hilda Good descendent of Sarah Good who was hanged in Salem for witchcraft back in the day. Hildy is 60 year old woman, a real successful real estate agent in small town MA who has been a serious drinker for a long time, and even though her daughters have staged an intervention, and Hildy has gone to treatment, she still finds a way to drink, quietly. What follows is a wild ride with a fix-it guy she is attracted to, weathy nutty neighbors and a great story that really pulls you in. Recommend.


    27 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melinda UT 10-16-13
    Melinda UT 10-16-13 Member Since 2009

    So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Soberingly Funny"

    I've watched over the months as the reviews for this one came in. You see five more stars from the corner of your eye and think, "don't do it...you know how disappointed you get when it doesn't meet your expectations." But, reviewers I watch and trust really liked this. I caved in and downloaded it, the whole while with those oh-my-god-what-have-I-done blues.
    This needs to be a series.

    Hildy Good is the kind of sassy smart character you love -- even when she is passed out on her cellar floor. Leary has written an engaging funny book with a robust main character that just happens to be an alcoholic, whom everyone thinks is a successful graduate of AA. The author doesn't minimize the condition at all, rather she keeps Hildy human and dimensional, making those moments of drunkenness all the more sad and pitiful. She portrays the thinking process of an alcoholic wonderfully; you don't realize how truly destructive this funny woman is until she is raging out of control.

    The Good House is one of those books with atmosphere; you feel immersed in the quaint little New England town. Hildy introduces the characters, mostly by their more scandalous moments, and they become neighbors. Leary develops the characters as the story proceeds, giving them a depth and personality you don't expect. But then, I didn't expect most of this story! It's funny, it's sobering, it's surprising, it's a great choice, and Mary Beth Hurt brings Hildy to life perfectly.

    81 of 86 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diana - Audible Oradell, NJ, United States 03-01-13
    Diana - Audible Oradell, NJ, United States 03-01-13 Member Since 2005

    "Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." --Lemony Snicket

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    "Recommended by a friend..."

    I found Hildy Good – lifelong resident of a quaint seaside town, successful real estate agent, "wine lover", and descendant of one of the Salem witches – to be an absolutely fascinating protagonist. Her behavior alternates between hilarious and sobering in a novel where secrets are kept and demons are battled. Through it all you’ve got the masterful Mary Beth Hurt’s performance anchoring you to this very original story. I didn’t want it to end!

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan San Dimas, CA, United States 03-25-13
    Susan San Dimas, CA, United States 03-25-13 Member Since 2010

    I'm going from chapter to chapter in life. Some are definitely better than others!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Oh Hildy, I'll Drink to That!"
    Where does The Good House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I would rate it as one of my favorite listens. I found myself wanting to listen to "just one chapter more", and was sad to have the story finished.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Good House?

    I found myself many times laughing out loud at Hildy's comments. However I almost had to pull my car over I was laughing so hard when Hildy dropped her keys off her office porch and decided to jump down after them. Then there were the tender moments, the sweet memories with her husband, Frankie and even Peter as a boy.


    Have you listened to any of Mary Beth Hurt’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    To my knowledge I've not listened to Mary Beth Hurt before. She was perfect for this audiobook. She WAS Hildy!


    Any additional comments?

    Ann Leary has written a fabulous book on alcoholism. Together with the performance by Mary Beth Hurt, this is not a book to be missed. Both the author and the narrator brought to life the many funny, tender, sad and reflective moments in The Good House. It's can be sad to finish a really good book, but Ann Leary did a great job ending Hildy's story.

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda B. San Francisco, Ca 02-17-13
    Linda B. San Francisco, Ca 02-17-13 Member Since 2009
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    "wonderful character study"

    Savagely funny at times and painful at other times. Characters are beautifully shown with their flaws as well as beauty. Also a refreshing look at aging and love. Well worth the credit. An exceptional book expertly read.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonny 03-07-13
    Bonny 03-07-13 Member Since 2009

    Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Smart & funny, even when Hildy's not drinking!"

    I'll admit that I initially downloaded The Good House from Audible because I liked the cover and was semi-desperate for something new/possibly good to listen to, but found out that it is really a worthwhile read. Hildy Good, a 60-year-old realtor and lifelong resident of Wendover, Massachusetts, is a recovering (or not) alcoholic (or not) who narrates her story, along with the changing climate of Wendover and its inhabitants, old and new.

    Hildy has recently returned from rehab, explaining to the reader that she is not really an alcoholic, it was simply due to the intervention (or "inquisition") by her mildly annoying and interfering daughters. She befriends wealthy newcomer Rebecca McAllister and they share some interesting secrets that really complicate Hildy's life. Through Hildy's eyes, we meet local psychiatrist Peter Newbold, local garbageman Frankie Getchell, and local electrician Patch Dwight, his wife Cassie, and their special needs child, Jake. Hildy excels at making acerbic, insightful, and very funny observations about her neighbors, but may not be quite as skilled at self-evaluation.

    The excellent narration by Mary Beth Hurt (she is Hildy!) makes this one of those books that may be even better in audio than paper. Smart, witty, entertaining, and it made me think, all add up to a really good read.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqueline Denver, CO, USA 02-08-13
    Jacqueline Denver, CO, USA 02-08-13

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Cautionary Tale . . . . ."

    Thoroughly enjoyable!

    I won't give a summary of the book, as it has been well done by the publisher and other reviews. Also, I don't want to go into a lot of detail about what happens--no spoilers!

    I thought this might turn out to be a sweet little story about quaint New Englander's--not so! It's quaint, sure, but has an underbelly of interwoven relationships that get trickier and more convoluted as their lives take shape. Everyday life in this upscale New England town starts out slowly, gets more complicated, and builds with tension towards the end.

    I read some backstory about the author, who it turns out, has some acquaintance with alcoholism in her own life. Her ability to translate those experiences to the pages of this novel- were nothing short of amazing. What a talent! She skillfully makes the people in this town come to life- I felt I had known them for years.

    It is narrated beautifully by Mary Beth Hurt. Hildy's words literally jump off the page. I could have been sitting in Hildy's cozy living room by the crackling fire and listening to her tell me her story as we sipped our wine . . .

    I note that some reviews stated they felt the ending was abrupt, or cut off. I really think it was just right. The author could have gone on to explain what exactly happened with the lives of these people after the events that took place--but she didn't, and I kind of liked that. I didn't find it hard to imagine how things would have, or could have ended up.

    I loved this book, and will now seek out other's by this author.

    20 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    suzanne Costa Mesa, CA, United States 04-01-13
    suzanne Costa Mesa, CA, United States 04-01-13 Member Since 2010

    Suzanne, avid reader and listener who loves a broad range of genres but, ecpecially authors,T.C. Boyle, Jodi Picoult, Barbara Kingsolver, Lionel Shriver, Sue Miller, Larry McMurty, Bryce Courteran, Lisa Gardner, Brian Haig, Richard North Patterson, Nelson Demille, Robert Tannenbaum, Sara Gruen, Kate Norton, Steig Larsen, Tana French and Gillian Flynn!! Still many more and the number of authors I enjoy continues to grow.

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    "Easily, my favorite book, this year!"

    It is a rare for a character from a book to be so fully developed and real. Ann Leary's Hilde is the zaniest, most complicated and wise cracking Yankee woman I ever met. Mary Beth Hurt's narration was absolutely superb! I was sorry when the book ended and she was no longer in my life. I will look for more books that she narrates!

    I bought this book based on the the reviews, of several readers whose opinions, I have come to respect. I can't thank you other audible customers enough for taking the time to write such thoughtful and helpful reviews. I will work to be a better member of this great community of engaged minds: because, together, we can really broaden and enhance our experiences in audio literature.
    The whole story and character unfolds, exposing layers of the life of
    a woman who lives, loves, fumbles, triumphs, experiences motherhood and
    "gammyhood", strides, and deceives herself with such determined grit,
    that you can't help but, feel anger frustration and yet, embrace her as a friend ( though she's not real " touchy " ).
    I just can't speak highly enough of this book. I have already recommended it to my family and friends and will seek out more from this wonderfully seasoned, funny, talented and intelligent writer!

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-16-13
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-16-13 Member Since 2005

    Addicted to Audible!

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    "Excellent character analysis"

    I have never lived with an alcoholic so for me this was an eye-opening account of the behavior and self-delusion that goes with this disease. I enjoyed the narration, it was totally realistic and brought the character to life. I would definately recommend it as an interesting analysis of people, what goes on behind closed doors and how you can never judge a person's life and happiness from what you see in their public persona!

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mon San Francisco, Ca 10-01-13
    Mon San Francisco, Ca 10-01-13 Member Since 2010

    12 step program please. I am addicted to Audible! I love trashy sexy books, award winning novels and everything between. Bring it!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Great Surprise"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Good House to be better than the print version?

    Yes because Mary Beth Hurt was amazing - she brought the characters in this book to life, especially Hildy's character.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Hildy's character was written so perfectly. She is lovely and delusional, dynamic and flawed; and still so beautiful all the while living in total denial. It was sort of spell binding hearing Hildy go through this process of self discovery - really discovering that she is in fact a total alcoholic. I was GLUED to this story, and Hildy is just one of the many lovely characters in this audio. The book is rich!


    What about Mary Beth Hurt’s performance did you like?

    Mary Beth Hurt brought ALL that is Hildy Good to life in her performance. Hildy is a full character and the narrator captured her demons and spirit and made her relateable. I laughed so much and also held my breath a few times. It was a brilliant performance.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Wendover spelled out in bottles of red wine.
    I think Meryl Streep or Angelica Houston would be PERFECT as Hildy and Kate Winslet would make a good Rebecca because she is a bewitching character. Kate Winslet looks so proper and perfect, (just like Rebecca) but I think she could bring on the crazy in a heart beat (just like Rebecca). Count me in. When's the movie?


    Any additional comments?

    The town itself is its own character allowing folks to be quirky and loving, independent and woven. There is so much to like about The Good House so go ahead and download it. It's worth the credit!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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