Vinegar Hill: 2

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Viking, 1994 - Fiction - 240 pages
3 Reviews
In her remarkable debut novel, Vinegar Hill, Manette Ansay writes with startling authority and quiet elegance of one woman's gradual realization that in order to reenvision her life she must break all the rules. It is 1972 and Ellen Grier finds herself back in the Midwestern hometown she thought she had escaped for good. Worse yet, she and her family have had to move in with her in-laws: narrow-minded, eccentric people who are as tough as the farm lives they have endured. Devout Catholics, they inhabit a world "as rigid, as precise as a church," and Ellen struggles to live by their motto: "A place for everything; everything in its place."
But there is no place for Ellen - fresh, funny, bright with passion - in a house filled with the dust of routine and the ritual of prayer, the lingering bitterness of her in-laws' loveless marriage. She tries to be the model woman everyone expects her to be - teaching at the Catholic school, coaxing her traveling-salesman husband through his increasingly irrational moods, caring for his aging parents - but Ellen's hopes for her family's future collide with life in this bizarre household, and she worries over her wryly observant adolescent daughter and her timid young son. Encouraged by her friend Barb, a woman ostracized for being "modern" and "wild," Ellen begins to consider her own desires and dreams as well.
Surrounded by the family's obsession with an exacting, angry God and the disquieting ghosts of the past, Ellen searches for a way to satisfy the demands of this rural community and its traditions until, at last, she discovers the family's darkest secret, one that frees her and changes her life forever.
Vinegar Hill is a celebration of choice and self-determination, the bittersweet landscape of one woman's spiritual triumph.

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Vinegar Hill

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

First novelist Ansay here focuses on a beleaguered Midwest family. With their two children, James and Ellen have moved back to the town where they grew up and into the house of James's very difficult ... Read full review

vinegar hill

User Review  - doritgran240 -

the book was very depressing and boring in the 70s a woman should have more will. Stopped reading and threw it away. Read full review


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About the author (1994)

A. Manette Ansay teaches creative writing at Vanderbilt University.

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