Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
The book called The Good House by Ann Leary kept popping up on my Facebook feed. I read statuses such as “It’s so awesome!,” “Hildy’s alcoholism makes me feel better about myself,” “That was the most lovable and unreliable main character I’ve ever read.” My friends tend to be rabid readers with excellent taste, so I thought I’d better check it out. Also, it is creeping up the bestseller list.
I listened to The Good House on Audible in two days. (I’m so obsessed with Audible–that’s another story I’ll be writing soon). I highly recommend their version narrated by actress Mary Beth Hurt. However you ingest books, get your hands on this one fast.
Hildy Good does not drink, she tells you at the beginning of the book. Later she sneaks down to her mouse-infested basement to crack open a bottle of wine–just for a sip. She does not have a drinking problem, she insists, even though she’s just come back from rehab, and her grown daughters believe she’s doing great on the wagon. Hildy’s a 60-ish real estate broker in Wendover, Massachusetts. She’s quite sure that she’s the most successful business woman in town, and she loves her girls, her grandson and her dogs. Sometimes, just for fun, she reads people’s minds at get-togethers, but she insists it’s just a party trick. Meanwhile, Hildy is the descendant of a burned-at-the-stake Salem witch, and her aunt was a fortune teller. Oh, and by the way, her mother killed herself when Hildy was 12.
The story unfolds with her real estate business getting squeezed, her daughters being a little annoying and her loneliness building since her husband ran off with a man. Hildy knows everyone and everything in her lifelong hometown. Whether she has ESP or not, she says she can read people more accurately than shrinks just by taking a look inside their homes. Enter a new couple, Rebecca and Brian McAllister. Rebecca–bewitching herself–becomes fast friends with Hildy because they share secrets. Rebecca doesn’t mind if Hildy has a glass of wine, and Hildy know she’s carrying on with the psychiatrist who works from the office upstairs from the real estate agency. Enter Frank, the town fix-it man, who was Hildy’s first when they were teenagers. Blackmail, romance and partying ensue.
Author Ann Leary (more on her in a sec) doesn’t really need a good plot to carry off this hilarious and wry book because of the richness of the characters and the town. I found two aspects of her writing particularly captivating. First, it’s impossible not to relate to Hildy–she’s a mom, a wife, a lover, a snoop–with total abandon. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a 60-year-old protagonist, but age in this book is irrelevant. Second, this is a manifesto on what alcoholism is really like. But it’s not like a waggy finger at all. Instead, it’s authentic and totally, completely funny. Anyone who’s ever had a drink will be enthralled with Hildy’s gritty choices. The wait-what-just-happened plot was the zinger in this book that kept me not pasted, but glued to it.
I didn’t read anything about The Good House until I finished the audio book. Then I found out that Ann Leary is comedian Dennis Leary’s wife, and she’s also written another work of fiction and a memoir. I’m glad I didn’t know that because celebrity-connected books turn me off (getting deals is easy for them). But don’t be fooled by the author’s link to the A-list. Ann Leary writes the pants clear off of this novel. I’m happy to report that she’s hard at work on her next one about a battle over a WASP-Y Connecticut family estate. I’m in. I’m hooked. Please Ann, create someone I love as much as Hildy Good.
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Best Sellers, Fiction, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Popular Books
Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
Every once in a while, a writer turns up who is just that special. This is definitely the case with Glennon Doyle Melton, blogger at Momastery. She’s a hit because everything she writes runs deep and true–and makes us laugh. (You may remember her famous blog, Don’t Carpe Diem.) It’s no wonder that her upcoming book, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, went to
#5 #4 on Amazon this week–and it doesn’t even come out until April.
How can that happen? You have to be that special person who can move your (many, many) fans to pre-order. And that’s just what Melton did. Read her thoughts below on how her gangbuster week has been going. And listen to her wise advice: She thinks we moms should Forgive Ourselves Everyday. Melton is brilliant. Don’t miss her wit and wisdom below:
KK: Congrats on your pre-sales! How surprised were you at your early success?
GDM: I was shocked and awed. The Monkees of the Momastery (my readers) are mountain movers.
KK: What are you doing to celebrate?
GDM: There are two rugs on my bathroom floor that my dogs have peed on. When I heard that Carry On, Warrior hit the Amazon top five bestseller list, I drove straight to Target and bought two new rugs. I brought them home, laid them down, and my dogs immediately peed on those. Now I have four peed on bath rugs, which I suppose is what I deserve for celebrating so excessively.
KK: How do you juggle your writing (blogs, books) with motherhood? Do you have any advice for moms of young kids who are chasing their own dreams?
GDM: I am one of those really bad jugglers who keeps hitting other people and her own feet with the balls. I juggle poorly and clumsily and I make a hundred big and small mistakes every day. I disappoint people and I forget birthday parties and I miss deadlines. Motherhood, whether I’m with my kids all day or not, is just impossibly hard for me. I don’t think that means I’m doing it wrong, though. I think it’s just hard. Thankfully, we can do hard things. My advice is to forgive yourself over and over again forever and ever.
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KK: In two sentences, what is your hot new book about?
GDM: Carry On, Warrior is about what life can be like when we come out of hiding and become shameless truth tellers. It’s about how brutal and beautiful are recovery, marriage, parenthood, friendship and faith.
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Friday, August 31st, 2012
I am at the beach this week with my family. I’m cartwheeling, sunbathing and reading at Fire Island in New York. Every year since 1997, I’ve made my pilgrimage out here. Cars aren’t allowed, swans are aplenty and walking barefoot is required on this tiny paradise place just two hours from my house.
This trip was particularly memorable for three reasons: My kids slept late, and I finally read Gone Girl and Wild.
I know you’ve heard a lot about these two books, but the hype is for real. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn will be number one on the New York Times bestseller list tomorrow for the second week in a row. This psychological thriller about love and marriage will make you forget you own a TV. Wild by Cheryl Strayed holds tight at number three after several weeks on top. It’s a memoir about a young woman who finds it prudent to walk thousands of miles in the mountains by herself.
Here are five reasons to read both books (Gone Girl first) right now.
1. However crazy you think you are, you will be assured of your sanity after meeting Gillian Flynn and Cheryl Strayed’s fictional and real characters.
2. The most difficult relationships in your life may suddenly seem more manageable.
3. You’ll be alive when you read these books. Hopefully, no one will be trying to kill you.
4. You’ll read lines like these:
“You’d just breeze in and be Fun Daddy. I’d do all the work to make them good people, and you’d undo it anyway, and they’ve love you and hate me.” –Gone Girl
“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told.” –Wild
5. You can friend both authors on Facebook afterward (they accepted me!) and find out more about what’s inside their insightful, genius minds.
Have you read either? Did you go crazy in the best kind of way?
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Best Sellers, Fiction, Memoirs, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Popular Books