Another one down! (Which doesn’t make up for the four I bought when I cheated on my ‘no more books’ oath.)
Book #3: Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
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 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 straight to endure, change, and grow in the all-pervading darkness that threatens to destroy everything she is and everyone she loves.
I now know why Oprah gave away cars and other amazing gifts to the guest of her show. It was to combat the depression that the members of her book club had encountered over the years. If you see the Oprah’s Book Club logo on a book you are about to crack open, take your Zoloft now.
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 emotions. I am no way suggesting you should shy away from them. Unless your dog just died.
Vinegar Hill has an amazing cast of characters, 98% of which I wanted to strangle on a regular basis. If you follow me on Twitter, you would have seen tweets suggesting that I already had a deep hate for someone thirty pages in the book. My hate list just grew and grew. Then Ansay threw a monkey wrench into my hate wagon’s spokes and brought on the flashbacks. As the story unfolds, you get introduced to events that made these insanely obnoxious people the way they were.
OH! Do I continue to hate them because they are assholes or do I walk a mile in their shoes? Damn you, Oprah! Damn you!
I found myself wanting to give the characters advice. If I could pull her aside for just one minute and say, “Run! Run for your life!”. This is why non-book people think book people are crazy. I’m whispering life changing suggestions to fictional characters.
What I hate about writing these reviews is avoiding spoilers. There is so much I want to tell you, but I don’t want to ruin it for you! Grab your Zoloft, grab Vinegar Hill. You can thank me for the multiple emotions you experience later.
Next on the YBI, YRI list: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes