02 March 2014

The Good House, by Ann Leary (Audio Review)

Well, I'm an idiot. Let's just get that out of the way right from the start.

I began this audiobook months ago from excellent recommendations from JoAnn at Lakeside Musing and Sandy at You've Gotta Read This. Somewhere along the way, I decided to take a break from the story. Don't ask. I have no idea why.

Hildy Good is an older single woman and is the most successful realtor in a small New England town. A descendant of a witch from the Salem Witch Trials, Hildy's also got a knack for finding out what everyone's secrets are, whether they want to spill it or not. With two adult daughters, an ex-husband who is her ex only because she can't really be in a marriage with a man when he's gay, and a little bit of a problem with her wine (she just can't stop drinking it), Hildy's confident that life is now exactly where it needs to be. If a little bit of wine in the evenings takes the edge off of her busy day, what harm can it do? She's never viewed wine as a source of a problem and even when her daughters planned an intervention, forcing Hildy to go to rehab, she always told herself she was only going so her daughter wouldn't stop her from seeing her grandson.

For some reason, something didn't click with me. At first. Was it the narrator or was it the story? I really have no idea. It was just something, and probably something silly and minor, but I took a break from it, resolving to start it back up again one day in the future.

When another audio concluded and I was stuck in the car with another hour to go, I realized I had nothing ready except for The Good House. Deciding to give it another try, I pressed play. And I was floored. I absolutely fell in love with it. The narrator felt like an old friend I hadn't spoken with in forever, the character of Hildy suddenly became clearer to me and her story started to take shape even more. I got the humor, I started to feel her pain, and realized that Hildy's battle with the bottle was something she might never fully come to terms with. I grumbled about Rebecca, Hildy's new friend, a younger mother born into old money, who was just a tad entitled and definitely annoying, but I even changed my opinion of her as well. I loved Frank and wanted everything for him, and then suddenly, I was shocked when I realized I couldn't stop listening to it. I tweeted with JoAnn about this, and I made excuses to take long drives and run random errands just so I could be with Ann Leary's story. And then it all made sense that Mary Beth Hurt 's gravely voice and timely inflection was absolutely the only person on this planet who could deliver Hildy's story, revealing dark pain laced with an unsuspecting humor that seemed to blanket her in some iron-clad defense. This was incredible. One of the best audios I have ever listened to, and one for the books that New England can count as a "win" for stories told of small town life.

Click here for the sample so you can listen and be convinced. Don't be an idiot like me and think you need to take some silly break. The last few foreboding hours set up by an innocent first few chapters will keep you on the edge of your seat, the tale magically composed by Ann Leary and cunningly voiced by Mary Beth Hurt. You won't regret it.

FTC Disclosure: I downloaded this from Audible.com

Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: 01/15/13
Audio Time: 10 hours and 12 minutes
Narrator: Mary Beth Hurt

About the Author
Ann Leary is the author of the memoir An Innocent, A Broad, the novel Outtakes From a Marriage, and the latest New York Times and national bestselling novel The Good House. She is a co-host of the NPR weekly radio show Hash Hags, is a volunteer EMT and competes in equestrian sports. She sounds pretty awesome, so I just might have to read everything else now.

About the Narrator
Mary Beth Hurt is an actress best known for her role in The World According to Garp (1982), Interiors (1978), and Bringing Out the Dead (1999). Her voice has the perfect gritty stylings that will keep you transfixed to the story. I can't wait to listen to more from her.


  1. I am the one person who liked but didn't love Hurt's narration - it took me a while to get used to it. The book is great, though!

  2. "Mary Beth Hurt 's gravely voice and timely inflection was absolutely the only person on this planet who could deliver Hildy's story, revealing dark pain laced with an unsuspecting humor that seemed to blanket her in some iron-clad defense."

    Yes, exactly!!! I'm so glad you gave this audiobook another chance and ended up loving it. It's definitely one of my all-time favorite listens. Reading your review (and your tweets) makes me want to experience it all over again. Somehow I can't imagine just reading this one.

  3. I could not connect with this audio AT ALL!! I listened to one part and then gave up. I know other bloggers have loved it and now you too... should I pick it up again? I think the voice of Hildy bugged me.

  4. That happens to me sometimes. Sometimes I have to press through. Funny how I'm more willing to press through with an audio.

  5. SO glad you gave it another chance. That was the right thing to do, because sometimes you just aren't in the right mood. I thought Hurt's narration was perfection...she became Hildy. I felt like I was listening to a next door neighbor and quirky old friend talking to me. So how exciting is it that it will be a movie starring Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro???

  6. Yes! I had the same experience as you. I didn't care for the reader and didn't enjoy the early chapters of the book, but I decided to give it another try (thank you, JoAnn!) and wound up falling in love with the book. Hurt is Hildy. I laughed and felt my heart strings pulled just ever so slightly (and was terrified as I read that chapter of Hildy in the basement...). This was one of my favorite audios in 2013 and I can't wait to see the film!