The Good House by Ann Leary


Successful real estate agent Hildy Good (age 60+) has lived in the Boston area for well, all her life.  She considers herself not only a wonderful agent, but also a good friend, mother, grandmother, and confidant.  Why if Hildy were to tell you, she would say that she is the center pulse to the town and all things start and stop with her.

Of course, the occasional drink is a must in order to celebrate, social occasions, or wind down, or help her sleep, or calm her nerves, or just to take the edge off… or….

after having gone to treatment thanks to her families prodding and an intervention, “meddling” would be Hildy’s words…


“if they invite you over for dinner, and it’s not a major holiday, run for your life” ~ Hildy


…she no longer drinks, going late to party invites just in time to grab a bite of food make small talk and leave as dessert is served.  Yes, Hildy no longer drinks.


Or… more accurately, Hildy no longer drinks in public. 

There is still her hidden wine stash in the cellar at home and who is she really hurting by having a glass or two in the privacy of her own home, or finishing off a bottle because it just doesn’t make sense to re-cork it when there is only a partial glass left, or a glass and a half…

and really, so what if she occasionally passes out in her living room in a chair, or has no recollection of the previous nights events, or phone calls her friends “claim” she made, or the occasional drive in her car that she can not remember where she went or what she did…

no, really – if people would all just mind their own business. Really mind their own business, because as Hildy knows all to well, there’s a lot of things going on in this little town of hers… things that people would not be too keen to have spread around…





The Good House was a book I listened to on audio and right from the start of Mary Beth Hurt’s narration I knew I was in for a treat.  I absolutely loves the voice of Hildy, she was matter of fact, a story-teller, an observing person, and 100% in denial.  Her story is engaging as she observes those in her town as they move in and out of the houses she sells (or hopes to!)  Seeing the world from the eyes of a realtor was a treat – from the inside (“the holes in the walls and the stains in the carpet… it would be a miracle if she would ever be able to sell it!”) to the outside people coming in (“since they moved into town they were by far the richest family in the area – at least as far as money goes…”)

I laughed along with Hildy’s antics and excuses of why she just needed that one drink – just a sip and how irritating it was when people arrived who just by being there delayed her chance to relax with just one glass of wine… just one…

My only tiny thought that does not fall in the “love it!” category is that at some points it seemed to go on and on in a side direction that seemed overly unnecessary. 

While the Good House is full of funny moments, it is also surrounding a serious subject and after a while I no longer found Hildy funny, but a little pathetic – however that is not a negative.  I think as the reader (listener) we should come to that conclusion that Hildy’s excuses for drinking are tiresome and wearing… and in that case, the author hit this subject dead on. 

I would recommend The Good House, I had recollections of Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series, but with a harder edge to it.

21 thoughts on “The Good House by Ann Leary

  1. I also listened to the audio of The Good House. I totally agree with your review. Mary Beth Hurt was wonderful. You could picture Hildy. You can laugh with her. You can sense how lonely she is. How often do we make excuses for our behavior? She just wanted more. Yeah more to drink really but more in her life.

  2. I’ve read good things about this book with almost the same comment that Hildy was not funny after a while. But you’re the only one that pointed out this may have been the author’s intention.

    1. Thanks Laura. I think people liked HIldy, but I think she eventually wore on people. I believe that is what Ann Leary was making us feel here… that wear of a friend who you care fot, but you are tired of their crap. 🙂

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