In a stark, troubling, yet ultimately triumphant celebration of self-determination, award-winning author A. Manette Ansay re-creates a stifling world of guilty and pain, and the tormented souls who inhabit it. It is 1972 when circumstance carries Ellen Grier and her family back to Holly's Field, Wisconsin. Dutifully accompanying her newly unemployed husband, Ellen has bro...more
Now, hear me out. I have never been disappointed with a book from the Oprah Book Club list. Drowning Ruth, Gap Creek, Jewel, The Pilot’s Wife. They are always amazing stories that will bring on a slue of intense emotio ...more
1) Female, middle-aged protagonist, typically a mother
2) Generally bleak and depressing
3) Emotional and/or physical abuse
4) Jackass husband
5) Horrible children
Vinegar Hill offers 5 of the 6 - no horrible children. It's a very quick read - maybe not light enough fare for the beach but for the subway ride to and from work, it's perfect. A brief synopsis: Ellen + husband + their 2 kids are forced to mov ...more
Just once ...more
Vinegar Hill is one of the most appropriately named books I’ve read in a while. The Grier family is a family that is completely affected, influenced, formed, created and responding to t ...more
The writing is repetitive, and the visuals are uncreative and obviously depressing. She hits you over the head with the misery of her characters, but to what point?
Shockingly mean and violent events abound, but again I saw no point. The only character that was suprred to action by the violent events is not even alive in the time line of the novel. We never meet her and it is only through the fog of time that she manages to "help" our main character. And that help is feeble, uncelebrat ...more
In short this book is chaper after chapter of family dysfunction. Although I appreciate the author's sense of style where the ingredients are sprinkled throughout and eventually the full recipe is revealed. The end result is a tasteless tale.
If you like books that leave you feeling mentally drained and you cannot help but skimming the last few pages bec ...more
Although the writing was solid and the characters well fleshed-out, I couldn't help but think that the back stories on some of the characters were too vague, and that the plot was unimaginative: a woman is discouraged by a troubled marriage and feels helpless. It all felt like it had been done before, and "Vinegar Hill" didn't really bring anything else to the table.
Vinegar Hill is so, so much darker than expected when I first picked up the book from a Book Sale. It tells of a story of a woman living in her own stifling world of marriage, religion, and expectations.
Ellen Grier steps out of her in-laws house every night. For all appearances, Ellen looks like any other wife and mother out for her daily walk and the house looks like any other house, which shadows visible on its window any other old married couple. But, no. There are uns ...more
My favorite part of the book is when the one of the characters looks down on another female character when she comments that she no longer has any desire for her husband in the bedroom. The other woman then belittles the woman saying that she ...more
The story is told primairily through the voice of Ellen, mother and wife. However, the author is able to offer us glimpses into the minds of the other characters as well. This allow us to understand how two people can experience the seem events but in very different ways. Our experiences in life really can color our whole perception of reality. At times in the story I was shocked t ...more
Ellen’s husband James lost his job, and instead of being proactive to find a new one, he moves them and their two children, Amy and Herbert, to his parents’ house in another state.
Wouldn’t be too terrible except that James’s dad is abusive both physically to James and verbally to everyone. And his mother is not nice at all to anyone in the family except for her beloved James, her baby who cann ...more
I felt obligated to try an "Oprah's book club" book. I'm a woman, so these books are supposed to speak to me, right? Books I feel "obligated" to read are funny things. They either turn out to be amazing or dreadful. Guess which one this was.
I'm not sure what kind of audience this book was written for. It it bears any resemblance to your life, it's going to depress you further. If it doesn't, it's just going to depr ...more
This novel is set in rural Wisconsin in the 1970's in a community of patriachal hellfire-and-damnation Christians. I like to believe that these types of abusive cultures don't, and never did, exist and perhaps that self-imposed naivite is what made the book so upse ...more
If I wanted to be snide, I'd say this is a book about how being forced to move in with your in-laws will destroy your marriage, but that's obviously too glib. There are a few finely drawn characters and a real struggle to keep love alive in an atmosphere that seems determined ...more