Book Reviews of Vinegar Hill

Vinegar Hill
Vinegar Hill
Author: A. Manette Ansay
ISBN-13: 9780688180638
ISBN-10: 0688180639
Pages: 240
Rating:
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 53

3 stars, based on 53 ratings
Publisher: William Morrow Company
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

106 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 137 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 14
This book was very twisted and crazy. The characters all seem to have MAJOR issues and need counseling! LOL I didn't really care for the book that much. It also seemed to really make the Catholic religion crazy and full of crazy rules.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 101 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
The writer sets a very depressing tone to this book. Great writing that can take you into the character's world, even if you really don't want to be there!
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
Vinegar Hill is about emotional damage that can be inflicted in ordinary domestic life. Ansay is a powerful storyteller with lyrical beautiful prose.
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Helpful Score: 8
Fabulous family drama novel! Strong, interesting characters, some suspense and great ending! I can't wait to read more from this author!
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
One of the more interesting books Ive read lately. Unpredictable and strange at times- I couldnt put it down. Its a share with freinds book.
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Helpful Score: 4
Very strange relationship between husband and wife
very surprise ending.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 92 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
A hard-to-put down novel about a disintergration of a mid-western family. A. Manette Ansay is a spellbinding writer.
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Helpful Score: 3
This was a very good story, sad and very dark. I usually don't go for Oprah's books but this had something different.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on
Helpful Score: 3
The book was definitely well-written and a fast read but I would probably review it as just okay. You start off hating almost all of the characters and while you do sort of see how they became the way they are by the end of the book, it just seemed to end a little quickly. I didn't really feel as though anything was resolved. A very strange book.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is a very dark but powerful story. What some will endure in the name of doing the right thing is amazing. Ellen is a very sympathetic character that is torn between her Catholic upbringing and common sense. It's sad to think of families putting their religion over the health and welfare of their own flesh and blood, but it happens. I guess I wanted the book to continue on a little more. I wanted to know Ellen and her children's fate. I wanted to know James reaction to her leaving. I wanted her to spit on Fritz's face. But I will say that Ansay did a great job of creating that want for more. Wonderful writer with wonderful words. I thought of Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping throughout the book. I think this should be required reading for young people and newly married couples
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book is excellently written and definitely provides food for thought; however, if you are put off by scenes of domestic violence, psychic as well as physical, this may not be what you want for a light read. Definitely makes one think.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A fallen family forced to move into the home of morose relatives. A bit depressing, but interesting.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 52 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
In a stark,troubling, yet ultimately triumphant celebration of self determination A Manette Ansay recreate3s a stifling world of guilt and pain and the tormented souls who inhabit it. It is 1972 when circumstances carries Ellen Grier and her family back to Holly's Field, Wisconsin. Dutifully accompanying her newly unemployed husband, Ellen has brought her two children into the home of her in laws on Vinegar Hill a loveless house suffused with the settling dust of bitterness....

This book I found was a bit slow going but with good purpose. It takes you on the journey of one family with a history of abuse and violence as well as unspeakable evil. It also focuses on difficult choices to be made concerning family and self. It tests the limits of what one person would do to save their family and themselves from having history repeat itself.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Intense story - not for the weak.
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Helpful Score: 1
This is what I would call a compelling read. It is very well written and immerses you in the lives of the characters.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 48 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I liked the book though it wasn't an uplifting and cheery read. It's a story of emotional abuse at the hands of in laws.
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Helpful Score: 1
A woman's struggle to figure out who she is beyond a wife and mother....amidst some major family dysfunction. Amy Tan describes it as "Little House on the Prarie gone mad". That about sums it up.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
absooutely wonderful book about strength! I loved it!
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 23 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book drags on and on. Why doesn't Ellen stick up for herself? And if she won't stick up for herself, why doesn't she at least stick up for her kids? I found this book very iritating.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 45 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a good read but I really wanted the main character to stand up for herself a little more. All-in-all though it was a good read.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A stifling world of guilt, 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. Ellen has brought her two children into the home of her in-laws on Vinegar Hill--a loveless house suffused with the settling dust of bitterness and routine--where calculated cruelty is a way of life. Behind a facade of false piety, there are sins and secrets in this place. Ellen must find the strength to endure the all-pervading darkness that threatens to destroy everything she is and everyone she loves.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Ansay transends both feminist epic and Midwestern gothic to achieve, finally, the lunar world of tragedy. This world is lit by the measured beauty of her prose, and the book's final line is worth the pain it takes to get there.
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Helpful Score: 1
A remarkably well-told tale. Vinegar Hill is a powerful story of a haunting, not by the dead but by the living!
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Helpful Score: 1
This was a very thought provoking story. Kind of sad in places but it turned out good in the end.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a good story per se...however i found it a little depressing. It was drawn out and slow for me. I don't understand what all the hype was about. I guess when Oprah puts something on her book club list....it cant help but receive hype whether its good or not.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 686 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
There are books you begin and you root for people to die...this is one of them. There are so many evil people in the book you just want to yell at them! It is a quick read, I read it in one day, but it is powerful and realistic to era that trapped women. Certainly worth reading.
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Helpful Score: 1
A quick read...but an excellent insight into the days when women were expected to be silent and just accept their lot in life.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 49 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Exceptional Book! I can see why Oprah chose it.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Horrible, sad book. The characters have no redeeming qualities. I didn't finish it so I shouldn't speak to the whole book but what I did read was so miserable I couldn't make it all the way through.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 330 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Another great performance by Debra Monk. If you don't recognize the name, perhaps you will remember her as Andy Sipowicz's first wife on NYPD Blue. She is a superb reader, doing every character to perfection no matter the accent. This is a dark story of a wife beaten down emotionally, who falls into pills to see her through her loveless days among those who beat each other daily with cruelty and bitterness. Each has a story to tell, and I recommend this read.
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Helpful Score: 1
This was such a touching story!! I love the way that it truly portrays a mother's thoughts, and how lonely being a mom can truly be. It also throws in an absent husband and annoying inlaws!! Great read.
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Helpful Score: 1
Not usually a fan of Oprah's picks, but this was a thoroughly engrossing listen.
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Helpful Score: 1
Very deep- very sad, brings up your most lonely feelings and puts them into print.
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Helpful Score: 1
This is a dark story of a wife beaten down emotionally, who falls into pills to see her through her loveless days among those who beat each other daily with cruelty and bitterness. Each has a story to tell, and I recommend this read. Just don't hope for anything humorous or uplifting. What else would you expect for an Oprah pick?
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Helpful Score: 1
An Oprah's Book Club choice. This story was well written.
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Helpful Score: 1
great read..you really empathize with the leading character...
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Helpful Score: 1
Ellen Grier and her family are forced to move in with her very cold, harsh in-laws. Worse, her husband seems depressed and not very motivated to get them away from his parents and this unpleasant environment even when they become more financially stable and can do so. Ellen has to make a choice, especially since all this impacts her children. Stay or go, and how?
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A fascinating novel about a family in a situation of moving in with the husbands parents and what ensued. It will make you angry and sad to read this, but you won't be able to put it down (just like Oprah!)
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I absolutely LOVED this book and couldn't put it down until it was finished! Can't wait to read others from this author!
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Quick read.
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A very dark, sad book. Rich characters and well written.
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This book exposes the underbelly of suburban family life that most try desperately to hide. Disturbing, yet you have to turn the pages. I read it in one night.
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Ellen Grier and her unemployed husband bring their 2 children to live with her in laws on Vinegar Hill - a loveless house with bitterness and routine - where cruelty is a way of life perpetuated in the name of a rigid & angry God. Behind false piety, there are sins and secrets in this place that could crush a young woman's spirit. And here Ellen must find the strength to endure, change and grow in the darkenss that threatens to destroy her and her family.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 166 more book reviews
Well-written and powerful, but often disturbing in its portrayal of the meanness and resulting bitterness of small-minded, small town life.
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family moves in with in-laws after husband loses his job --the home is rigid and loveless, but Ellen finds the strength to endure and grow
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Extremely sad and moving story of a woman trapped in the loveless home of her in-laws who punish and crush her spirit using the idea of a vengeful God.
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Great book, from Oprahs book club
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I don't really like to say to many negative things about books becuase everyone's tastes are different. But to be honest I can't say I really enjoyed this book. I at times wondered where the story was going and the end left me hanging.
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I couldn't read this fast enough.
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Ansay manages to capture the frustration and desperation of many women. I was deeply touched on an emotional level, which is a testament to good writing. I'm going to read another of her books.
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Such an awesome read! One of Oprah's books back in the day.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on
Although I admit that the book looks quite interesting, it appears to be all written in the present tense, something that I cannot abide, so I am making it available for someone without my prejudice.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 16 more book reviews
Great book!!
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Well written, but I was not thrilled about "eavesdropping" on a family in the process of falling apart. I really wondered why she, the wife, tolerated the situation as long as she did. It pissed me off! I have issues with putting up with crap. Can you tell?
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Good read!
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 85 more book reviews
This book was disturbing to me. Family abuse just keeps on giving⦠The bravery of the main character, Ellen, made me happy though. She recognized the necessity to move elsewhere with her children and away from the continuation of abuse that family often repeats.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on
I picked up this book, because usually books from the Oprah Book Club are a safe bet for a vacation read. Having no other books with me, this was torture! But then again I didn't enjoy Death of a Salesman and that is a famous story that I think is along the same lines as this dreary story. So I've listed the book here, because maybe someone can appreciate this book more than I!
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Oprah was right when she picked this one!!
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 48 more book reviews
An intense story of a woman who is forced to live with her husband's parents. This book contains a lot of tragedy that leads up to an unsatifsying resolution.
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forced to live with her inlaws and uncaring husband, a woman discovers herself
reviewed Vinegar Hill on
As a young girl, Ellen Grier had always believed that marriage was meant to be between two people who loved each other deeply. She and her husband James may have had a marriage of convenience, but that didn't necessarily mean that they couldn't come to love each other over time. Despite their initial differences, Ellen was determined to be a good wife for James - as dutiful and as proper a wife as either of their strict German Catholic families could possibly want.

Thirteen years pass, and it is now 1972. Circumstance has carried Ellen Grier and her family back to her and James' hometown of Holly's Field, Wisconsin. Dutifully accompanying her recently unemployed husband, Ellen has brought their two children - their daughter Amy, and their son Herbert - into the home of her in-laws on Vinegar Hill. This family of four now lives with James' parents - his domineering and abusive father Fritz and smotheringly attentive mother Mary-Margaret - and Ellen has begun to find their new living situation increasingly intolerable.

The house on Vinegar Hill is a loveless home - suffused with the settling dust of bitterness and mired in the harshness of routine. A home where calculated cruelty is a way of life, preserved and perpetuated in the service of an uncompromising, punitive and angry God. Behind this facade of false piety, there are sins and secrets in this place that have the strength to crush a vibrant young woman's passionate spirit. And it is here that Ellen must find the strength to endure, change, and grow in the pervasive darkness and bleakness of spirit that threatens to destroy everything she is and everyone she loves.

First of all, let me say that despite this being such a tragically heart-wrenching story, I really enjoyed reading the book. So many characters really resonated with me, that I avidly wanted to know what would happen to them next. I would definitely give this book an A!
reviewed Vinegar Hill on
Boring. A lot of pointless back-story. Hated every page.
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It's about a woman struggeling with her duties as a mother and wife.
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Very interesting book with some unexpected twists and turns.
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This author is a good storyteller!
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Very good book. Woman moves with her husband children into her in-laws loveless house where calculated cruelty is a way of life. This book is a celebration of self-determination and a woman's ability to triumph despite the odds.
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hated it - too depressing
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I tried to read this book, but I just could not get into it.
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The author paints a lovely and captivating worded picture. The biggest criticism that i had for this novel is it's lack of redemption. The dark times are dark and depressing, and thus it mirrors life. I think, at the time that i read it, i was hoping that it would be a nice "escape" and not a mirror image.
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Sweet and tender and a little chilling all rolled into one.
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This woman has a big problem. She can't tell her husband "No!" She ends up living in his parents' home, who are not the best of in-laws. Shows what some women will put up with.
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Powerful and painful story of a dysfunctional family set in 1972.
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A great read!
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A great Read, and one of Oprah's Book Club choices.
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I wasn't impressed.
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This book has as its theme the empowerment of a woman after her attempts to balance her roles as wife, mother, daughter, sister, and daughter-in-law fail until she learns that she must first define herself as a person. The story starts slowly and takes a bit of time to flesh out the characters but once every character has been itroduced, the story takes on life midway through the book.
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Haunting, sad, but ultimately triumphant (in a tragic way). Beautifully crafted and written.
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Heartfelt and well written.
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Stark and bleak - I could feel the house she was forced to live in, and the bitterness of those around her. A haunting book.
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Good Book...Fast Read...being in Oprah's Book Club says it all!
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Well written novel of triumph over sad, loveless circumstances. Engaging characters with a bit of mystery into human choices and their consequences. A satisfying, unusual read.
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The setting is in 1972 when loss of work carries Ellen Grier and her family into the loveless home of her in laws. Here Ellen finds the strength to endure, change and grow.
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Intersting story. I always enjoy books from Oprah's Book Club.
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Highly recommended from Oprah's Book Club List.
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This was a good read. Kind of boring in places, but I liked it.
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"SWEET, TENDER, AND CHILLING"
In a stark, troubling, yet ultimately triumphant celebration of self-determination, award-winning author A. Manette Ansay re-creates a stufling world of guilt 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 brought her two children into the home of her in-laws on Vinegar HIll-a loveless house suffused with the settling dust of bitterness and routine-where calculated cruelty is a way of life preserved and perpetuated in the service of a rigid, exacting and angry God. Behind a facade of false piety, there are sins and secrets in this place that culd crush a vibrant young woman's passionate spirit. And here Ellen must find the strength to endure, change, and grow in the all-pervading darkness that threatens to destroy everything she is and everyone she loves.
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good clean pages
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Living life as you dream it will be, like playing with paper dolls, is not always how it is played out. People ride the highs and lows but when the lows become too low new choices have to be made. Three women lived, endured abuse and disillusionment until a choice was made. A mother makes a decision that affects her daughters lives in different ways. One daughter becomes lost in a bad marriage feeling there is no way out. Secrets keep another daughter bound so tightly she cannot mature.
Ellen lives within the straits of tradition until she reaches her low point; a choice made!

Family tradition and criticism is a trap door - sometimes you have to escape!
reviewed Vinegar Hill on
Quick read but I felt it was pretty anti climatic
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 35 more book reviews
Rather dark for my taste.
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quick read...really enjoyed it
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brilliant, intense, bitter "transcends both feminist epic and Midwestern gothic to achieve, finally, the lunar world of tragedy." - The New Yorker
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I think this is one of the most boring books I ever read and I'm truly not a complainer. The people, the setting, even the conversations were just plain sad. I just don't know people to be this blah!
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 13 more book reviews
In a stark, troubling, yet ultimately triumphant celebration of self-determination, award-winning author A. Manette Ansay re-creates a stifling world of guilt 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 brought her two children into the home of her in-laws on Vinegar Hill - a loveless house suffused with the settling dust of bitterness and routine - where calculated cruelty is a way of life preserved and perpetuated in the service of a rigid, exacting and angry God. Behind a facade of false piety, there are sins and secrets in this place that could crush a vibrant young woman's passionate spirit. And here Ellen must find the strength to endure, change, and grow in the all-pervading darkness that threatens to destory everything she is and everyone she knows.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 22 more book reviews
In a stark troubling, yet ultimately triumpahnt celebration of self-determination, award-winning author A.Manette Ansay re-creates a stifling world of guilt and pain, and the tormented souls who inhabit it. It is 1972 when circumstance carries Eleen Grier and her family back to Holly's Field, Wisconsin. Dutifully accompanying her newly unemployed husband, Ellen has brought her 2 children into the home of her in-laws on Vinegar Hill-a loveless house suffused with the settling dust of bitterness and routine-where calculated cruelty is a way of life preserved and perpetuated in the service of a rigid, exacting and angry God. Behind a facade of false piety, there are sins and secrets in this place that could crush a vibrant young woman's passionate spirit. And here Ellen must find the strength the endure, change, and grow in the all-pervading darkness that threatens to destroy everything she is and everyone she loves.
reviewed Vinegar Hill on + 60 more book reviews
In a stark, troubling, yet ultimately triumphant celebration of self-determination, the author re-creates a stifling world of guilt 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, WI. Dutifully accompnaying her newly unemployed husband, Ellen has brought her 2 children into the home of her in-laws on Vinegar Hill - a loveless house suffused with the settling dust of bitterness and routine - where calculated cruelty is a way of life preserved and perpetuated in the service of a rigid, exacting and angry God. Behind a facade of false piety, there are sins and secrets in this place that could crush a vibrant young woman's passionate spirit. And here Ellen must find the strength to endure, change, and grow in the all-pervading darkness that threatens to destroy everything she is and everyone she loves. An Oprah's Book Club choice.
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I loved this book. It was a great read!!!
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From Publisher's Weekly:
Set in 1972, Ansay's debut novel revolves around Ellen Grier's struggle for liberation-liberation from her marriage to James, from her virtual enslavement to her sanctimonious, cruel in-laws and from what she see as the stultifying demands of her religion, Roman Catholicism. Financial difficulties have forced James and Ellen, along with their two children, to move back to the small Wisconsin town where they grew up and where they now share an acrimonious and joyless life with James's parents. Virtually every character is victimized by a private misery that causes pain and alienation and that in turn victimizes others. Ansay, who teaches creative writing at Vanderbilt, is adept at delineating these worlds of suffering, and her language can be both apt and beautiful. But she offers too many descriptions of the nightmares and waking bad dreams that seem to afflict all of her characters, and the reader begins to share the sense of being caught in a bad dream. As the story concentrates more on Ellen's search for identity-a familiar tale presented here in a familiar way-this sense of nightmare is intensified by an impression of deja vu. Though uneven, the novel offers glimpses of Ansay's potential to deliver a more coherent book next time.
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From Publishers Weekly
Set in 1972, Ansay's debut novel revolves around Ellen Grier's struggle for liberation-liberation from her marriage to James, from her virtual enslavement to her sanctimonious, cruel in-laws and from what she see as the stultifying demands of her religion, Roman Catholicism. Financial difficulties have forced James and Ellen, along with their two children, to move back to the small Wisconsin town where they grew up and where they now share an acrimonious and joyless life with James's parents. Virtually every character is victimized by a private misery that causes pain and alienation and that in turn victimizes others. Ansay, who teaches creative writing at Vanderbilt, is adept at delineating these worlds of suffering, and her language can be both apt and beautiful. But she offers too many descriptions of the nightmares and waking bad dreams that seem to afflict all of her characters, and the reader begins to share the sense of being caught in a bad dream. As the story concentrates more on Ellen's search for identity-a familiar tale presented here in a familiar way-this sense of nightmare is intensified by an impression of deja vu. Though uneven, the novel offers glimpses of Ansay's potential to deliver a more coherent book next time.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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An Oprah's Book Club selection that portrays a family with problems - what else is new?
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I have yet to be disappointed by an Oprah's Book Club selection - this book was no exception.
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One of the easier Oprah Books to read. Entertaining.
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I liked this book. Like the most of the books from Oprah's Book Club.
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Oprah's Book Club
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An Oprah Book Club pick.
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Didn't read so I can't provide a review or rating but it is an Oprah's Book Club pick so you know it can't be too bad.