Having written a few novels of my own, I know how hard it is to tell a story in the voice of someone else, particularly when that voice is very different than yours. In Best Enemies, for example, I used the first person to narrate Amy’s version of her turbulent friendship with Tara and then switched over to Tara’s point of view in several of the chapters. It was challenging.
Ann Leary, the wife of actor/comedian Denis Leary, is an accomplished author who has now written a bestselling novel told from the perspective of a 60-year-old real estate agent. Ann Leary is far from being 60, and yet she wrote about Hildy, her protagonist, as if she were absolutely in her head.
While Leary may not know what it’s like to be 60 firsthand, she does know about having the drinking problem Hildy has. Apparently, she’s a recovering alcoholic and she has a unique ability to describe Hildy’s denial, her love for alcohol, her bouts of shame and self-doubt and her fears of her daughters finding out about her drinking. The result is a story that’s compelling, poignant and occasionally comical.
But “The Good House” isn’t just about alcoholism. It’s about a small New England town and the conflict between those who’ve lived there for generations and those who’ve come to town with shiny new assets. It’s about negotiating the boundaries of families and about finding love in mid-life. It’s a novel I couldn’t wait to get back to every night when it was “Kindle Time,” as I call it. Leary is definitely an author to watch.