- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Orion; New edition edition (7 Sept. 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0752838202
- ISBN-13: 978-0752838205
- Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,820,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Vinegar Hill (Oprah's bookclub) Paperback – 7 Sep 2000
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More About the Author
Oprah Book Club® Selection, November 1999, Vinegar Hill is an appropriate address for the characters who populate A. Manette Ansay's novel of the same name. After all, when Ellen Grier and her family return to the rural hamlet of Holly's Field, Wisconsin, it's not exactly a happy homecoming. Her husband, James, has been laid off from his job in Illinois. And for the moment, the family has moved in with Ellen's in-laws, Fritz and Mary-Margaret, an unhappy pair who dislike their daughter-in-law almost as much as they despise each other:
The first time Ellen sat at this table she was 20 years old, bright-cheeked after a spring afternoon spent walking along the lakefront with James, planning their upcoming wedding. It was 1959 and she was eager to make a good impression. She didn't know then that Mary-Margaret disliked her, that she was considered Jimmy's mistake.
Thirteen years later, in 1972, Ellen is back at the table with no escape in sight. Both she and her husband do find work. Yet James seems to settle a tad too easily into his old life, and shows no interest in finding a place of their own. Even worse, his job takes him away from home for weeks at a time, leaving Ellen to cope with her abusive in-laws.
In Vinegar Hill Ansay paints a searing portrait of the Midwest's dark side, of a rural culture infected with despair and ruled over by an unforgiving God. Yet she does hold out a grain of hope, too. Just as Ellen seems permanently entangled in familial desperation, she makes a surprising discovery about James's long-dead grandmother--a woman whose rebellious spirit inspires Ellen to rescue herself and her loved ones from the impinging darkness. This late-breaking redemption doesn't cancel out the preceding unhappiness: Vinegar Hill remains a tough, uncompromising tale, one that requires some fortitude to read. But those with the heart for it will be rewarded with fine, spare prose and a hopeful ending. --Alix Wilber, Amazon.com
'A modern-day Little House on the Prarie gone mad... Manette Ansay is a powerful storyteller with lyrical gifts and a wry, observant eye' (Amy Tan)
'Ansay transcends 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' (New Yorker) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.