Vinegar Hill is a very apt name for this story. Maybe Vitriol Hill might be even better. Ellen Grier and her two children exist in an environment of hate, bitterness, violence with little to keep them sane. Set in the 1970's against a backdrop of the strict teachings of the Catholic Church of the time, this story is definitely a grind. Ellen's husband has lost his job and their only hope is to move in with his parents. She gamely deals with the psyche-destroying situation but as her husband gets more distant and unreachable, we know that she has to take action or let them all be drowned in the vinegar. I guess it is well-written as I kept wanting to shake someone, to give someone a smack and say 'Snap out of it!" Thankfully, it is not a long book so the bad taste in your mouth only lasts a little while.
This is the frist book I have read by this author. This family is so dysfunctional, I often wanted to scream--which shows how well this was written because it seemed so real. In fact I have experienced families similar. Ansay not only tackles that subject but also women's identity. This was written in 1994, yet even today these issues are still present in our society (not to mention our world). She also brings in the negative influence of the Church, particularly the Roman Catholic, but others are at fault as well, in holding women back and down. My own sense of right wanted the book to also end with the husband becoming enlightened. Loved this book.
This book is "stark" and "troubling" but I failed to find it "ultimately triumphant." I kept reading, waiting for it the characters to have some kind of epiphany that would make the book worthwhile--- but it never came.
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