Tuesday, June 06, 2006

53. "Vinegar Hill" ~ A. Manette Ansay

When financial troubles affect the Grier family, they move back to their small Wisconsin hometown. Broke, Ellen exchanges cooking and cleaning for two small rooms in her in-law's loveless home.

Banal as this seems, it is a ripe topic to bite into, especially with such frickin' crazy characters. However, Ansay creates them with just enough of a midwestern appeal that I can relate, which makes them even more frightening. The mother-in-law tells the children about a woman strangled with her own braids, right along the path where their mother is now partaking an evening walk. The husband allows his father to beat him.

This is a "train wreck" book. If not for the beautiful prose and dead-on, visceral imagery, I would not have been able to keep reading. But all the way through to the last line - and what a fantastic line - it was worth it.

Personal note: I have an Oprah bias. The fact that at least two of my recent reads are her picks infuriates me. My apologies.

3.75 out of 5.0 Prairie Oysters.

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