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February 2013

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The Good House

Written by , Posted in Reviews

2013-01-14-good_house

This is an interesting novel, just released last month. It’s one I would recommend for those looking for a book with a little bit of mystery, a lot of character study (can we really judge ourselves accurately?) and some vivid scenery. Suggested to me by the same person who offered up ‘Defending Jacob,’ it tells the story from the perspective of Hilda Good, a divorced real estate agent in her late 50s/early 60s who still lives in the Massachusetts seaside town where she grew up. She has a bit of a drinking problem (the size of which is debated throughout the book) and not a lot of friends.

The book follows Hildy over the course of a very eventful year as she befriends a new town resident, becomes privy to some secrets perhaps she should not, and rediscovers (in various different ways) friends from her youth. Hildy is the type of character who is flawed and you see it. She isn’t hateful, or horrible; she’s just not perfect. I don’t have any experience with alcoholic parents, so I can’t say whether the depiction of her and her family would ring true to someone who does, but it did not seem cartoonish to me. Instead, the writing portrays a woman who thinks she knows her limits but may be quite close to pushing them further than she can handle.

The pacing of the book felt a little off, but I do wonder if part of that is due to reading it on an e-reader. I know it sounds odd, but even though there’s a little percentage complete box at the bottom of the screen, I have a much harder time putting that into perspective as compared to when I’m holding a physical book in my hand. My brain has spent over 30 years expecting books to flow in a certain manner relative to the amount remaining; with an e-reader those cues are gone. It did at times feel like a lot of ‘nothing’ was happening, but I never had to struggle to pick it up, finishing it in about three days, and am still able to picture the town, the houses, and all of the characters quite vividly.

I’d say this is a great little read for a weekend spent somewhere chilly. Add it to your mid-October reading list, warm up some cider and let yourself spend some time in New England.

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