Apr 25, 2013

Review: The Good House by Ann Leary (Unabridged Audio Edition)

When I first noticed this book going around the blogs people were raving about it.  Then I started hearing how great the audio version was and since I was due for a new audio book, I chose that format. Boy, am I glad I did! Mary Beth Hurt was F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S as Hildy Good! But hold on, I don't want to get ahead of myself  First, for those who aren't familiar, here is a bit about the book:

Hildy Good grew up and has lived in a small town on Boston's North Shore for all of her life. I guess you could call her a townie. She knows everyone and everyone knows her. She's had a good and successful life as a Realtor and is currently the only independent Realtor in town. She is divorced with two grown daughters, one married with a child and one not married.  For the most part Hildy lives a happy life. There's only one problem: Hildy is an alcoholic. When her family held an intervention, Hildy gave in to their demands and went into rehab. It's now the beginning of the story and Hildy has been sober for about a year. She says its not a problem and she can handle it, but inside she feels it was all blown out of proportion. 

Hildy is an outspoken but friendly sort but she does like her privacy.  Like many small communities, its hard to keep secrets so when Hildy begins to backslide from her sobriety, she is careful to keep it to herself and justifies it with one excuse after another. Hildy's denial of her drinking problem grows and before long she is back to having blackouts and suffering from hangovers on a regular basis until one night the unthinkable happens and she has to face that she may have been the cause.  If only she could remember . . .

My Thoughts:

I purposely left out a lot in my synopsis because I wanted to let Hildy tell her own story. Let me start by saying that Hildy Good is one of my favorite characters of all time. She is really something. Hildy is the one telling this story so it is her insights and perspective that is given to the reader. At first, I have to admit, I thought she came across a bit haughty and snobbish, but quickly changed my view. It's just her way. She is very opinionated, sometimes prickly but certainly not a bad person. She is deeply flawed however, and in such denial it is rather scary. I saw her gradual slide down that slippery slope and felt that helpless feeling but she is so convincing in her justifications that I wanted to believe her when she repeatedly said she had it under control.. There's no mistaking that Hildy is the star of this story but the supporting characters and sub plot added another element and were authentic and very believable.

But just know, THE GOOD HOUSE is not just a novel about an alcoholic, it is also about an unlikely friendship, an affair, a rekindling of long ago love and bonds. This book has it all and is told in perfect pitch. I chose to listen to the audio version and I am so glad I did. Mary Beth Hurt was the perfect Hildy Good. No one else could've portrayed this character in my opinion. She interpreted all of Hildy's characteristics flawlessly.

I can only imagine that writing a successful novel centered around alcoholism must be a daunting task. The way Ann Leary wrote Hildy's perspective and her continual justification of her drinking can only come from someone who knows alcoholism intimately. I feel she did an outstanding job. Once I got started I didn't want to stop. Hearing Hildy's voice with my own ears was such an authentic experience. I didn't want to leave her when the book was done.

The bottom line is THE GOOD HOUSE is one of my top reads this year and the audio is probably my favorite of all. If you're looking for an audio that you can get sucked into right away with great characters and great story, then you should definitely listen to this latest from Ann Leary. It was a real treat. Just one more comment about this author: Am I the only person on the planet who didn't know Ann Leary is married to Denis Leary, the actor from Rescue Me?  Saw her on an MSNBC program and they mentioned that and I was shocked!

THE GOOD HOUSE (Unabridged Audio Version)
Author:  Ann Leary
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: January 2013
Length: 10 hrs 12 min
Recommend? Absolutely 100% YES!!!


  1. I read this when it first came out and thoroughly enjoyed it. The audio sounds like it's wonderful!

  2. Everyone seems to be listening to this one, as opposed to reading it. I wonder how it fares in print.

  3. I just listened to this book too. I loved the book but think you liked the narration more than I did.

  4. What a great recommendation! Moving this to the top of my audio wish list.

  5. I LOVED the narrator. Mary Beth Hurt was perfect as Hildy! Glad you liked it. On my 2013 Favorites list too :)

  6. I skimmed some of your review towards the end only because I am CURRENTLY listening to this one and LOVING every single moment of it. Hildy is something else and I think Hurt is perfect as the narrator!!!! AWESOME review!

  7. I agree!! I loved this book on audio and Mary Beth Hurt was the perfect voice for Hildy! It's on my favorites list also. I did not know that Ann Leary was married to Dennis Leary either until I saw the same clip.


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