Customer Reviews for

Vinegar Hill

Average Rating 3
( 80 )
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5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(29)

2 Star

(20)

1 Star

(10)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 review with 3 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted March 3, 2012

    Okay

    I read this book for book club and I found it very sad and depressing. I did finish the book because I wanted to see how it ended. Not one of my favorite books

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2011

    Depressing, but okay read

    Interesting book in its own way, but not a favorite

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2010

    Only if you wanted to escape to hell!

    Short and sweet!
    Written very well!
    If the author wanted to set you into a tailspin of antidepressants....she succeeded!
    But sickeningly enough, I couldn't put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful Read Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay tells the sto

    Wonderful Read



    Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay tells the story of Ellen, a young woman who is forced to move in with her in-laws after her husband loses his job. Chastised for wanting a college education and never quite good enough in the eyes of her mother-in-law, Ellen chooses to support her husband by silently accepting the decisions he has made for their family.  Set in the early 1960′s, when leaving a marriage was nearly unthinkable, the reader is able to walk alongside Ellen as she lives day to day with her distant husband, violent father-in-law, and subtly cruel mother-in-law. Although Ellen is the main character, various chapters give the reader a glimpse into the minds of the other characters, including the children, which allows for a bit of balance and empathy for the others.




    When I finished reading Vinegar Hill (an Oprah Book Club pick in 1999), I couldn’t shake the image of a volcano with lava slowly pouring out of it and cascading into neighboring areas. This is not because there are any volcanos or natural disasters in the book, but rather due to the author’s way of telling the story with an underlying heat and a slow and smooth style of writing. At its core, each character is angry and trying to make sense of their current situation. Their angers are bubbling just below the surface and reach out to touch each of the other characters in ways that they don’t anticipate or recognize. Despite each character having their own struggles, they all boil down to their current living arrangements, which has magnified their individual issues into a toxic atmosphere in which each person is feeding off of the negative energy of the others.




    Despite the steady flow of the book, there were a few story lines that were left unfinished. Granted, they weren’t vital to the story as a whole, but they incited some empathy in me for some of the characters and I was left wondering whether my empathy was misplaced. Vinegar Hill is a book that can be read in one sitting, preferably on a cold or rainy day.  It’s melancholy and realistic portrayal of a difficult marriage in the early 1960′s is heartbreaking and, I can imagine for those a bit older than me, a familiar story.




    Side note: After reading an interview with the author, I learned that she was in a similar living situation. This added a depth to the book that was not previously there and made me look back on the book even more fondly.

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  • Posted November 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good, Not Great.

    This was extremely depressing and after finishing the book, I really could not seem to find what the overall message was. Every character in this story frustrated me at some point. I felt if you didn't know what year Ansay was writing about you would think early 1900's with the way everyone stayed in a loveless marriage in the novel. However, the novel was supposed to be taking place in 1972. Some things like the portrayal of the time period, along with certain events in the characters' lives seem unrealistic. I do have to hand it to Ansay for having an eloquent way of writing. Her style of writing was almost like descriptive poetry. I really enjoyed how she ties the chapter's beginning paragraph with the chapter's last paragraph. It's a quick read, but you are constantly waiting for something big to happens which it really never does. I cannot believe this is part of Oprah's book club. To me, this book does not compare with Toni Morrison's works or Wally Lamb's works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2007

    Oprah bookclub pick?

    I wasn't bored reading this. It had all the right factors to make a great book: wicked in-laws, secrets from the past, a marriage in turmoil....Despite this, the author did not bind it all together to make it make sense. I got the point but it just wasn't delivered well. The climax was almost to the end. It took a while to get to the point. Not totally let down but had higher hopes for a bookclub pick.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2004

    hit home

    I only finished this book because I am currently living with the inlaws and it gave me some perspective. The story didn't go anywhere, and the characters' pathetic lives didn't interest me in the least.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2004

    Cant Belive this made Oprah's Book Club!

    The book was ok but not great by any stretch of the imagination. It was slow and not really about anything in particular. The story dragged and the characters were dull at times.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2002

    Sad and Aggravating!

    This book is enjoyable enough to keep your attention, but aggravating...I wanted to yell at the main character to stand up for herself and her children. Painful to witness someone who lives without a backbone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2001

    Quick Read

    If I hadn't read the reviews first, I probably wouldn't have liked the book. I read through it quickly and my focus was mostly on how women in the past stayed in bad relationships and how that has changed to a large degree now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2000

    didn't really get me going

    i kept expecting for this book to pick up steam and it never did. it's an okay read but not the best on Oprah's list.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2000

    A True glimpse of life and marriage in 1970

    I enjoyed this book very much. I felt at times i knew the main character Ellen. I am a male catholic who can relate to Ellen and her struggle with leaving her husband .The book moves at a nice pace and will leave you wanting to know more . The book is very descriptive and has much depth in developing the central characters . You will feel like a outsider looking in when you read the book . I sometimes felt i was right there inside the kitchen with ellen ,fritz and james. As a catholic and a progressive i applaud the hurdles people like this overcame to grow as a person .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2000

    Sad, but....

    This book had a lot of good things about it. I liked the overall story line even though it was so tragic. The characters were all connected in a very distant type of way. It is a cold novel, not an escape by any means.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2000

    Couldn't put it down

    All I really remember is that I couldn't put it down because I related to the story. The characters were unique and interesting and the plot moved at a decent pace. Read it sometime!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2000

    Captivated with a kind of horrid wonder

    I started reading this book anticipating inspiration. At times I found the characters lives so miserable that I wanted to give up myself...and that's when I began to think maybe that was the point. It was the story of a woman's gradual descent to the depths of no longer caring, of completely succumbing to hopelessness. What kept me going was the ever dwindling hope that she would grab hold before the point of no return. The story was compelling and repellent at the same time. I kept turning to the picture of the author wondering who could spin such a tale. At times I felt that I wasn't enjoying this book, yet, I wanted to keep reading. Very thought provoking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2000

    Running true to course with all other Oprah books

    Reading other reviews I concur that yes it is a bit depressing. 99% of the Oprah selections have run this route, however, for a lot of people this is their lot. I enjoy these down to earth selections because they are realistic unlike those Danielle Steele books where everyone is wealthy, beautiful, and estremely intelligent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2000

    Worth Reading....but

    This book is definitely worth reading,but it tends to be a bit depressing. Didn't these people ever have a happy and uplifting experience? With the exceptions of Ellen and Herbert, all the characters are bitter and miserable human beings and worse, they are hypocrits.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2000

    Thought provoking but disappointing

    Given the time period in which the story took place, Ellen was indeed in an unusual situation , living with in-laws, having a traveling husband and having strong religious convictions. However, there comes a time when regardless of the influences,limitations and/or restrictions, we must become our own person. I define Ellen, as a victim of circumstance, who lacked the desire to look within to garner the strength she needed to make her own decisions. I was left with the question, was enough, really enough or was her walk with Amy just another sentimental walk?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2000

    Jumps around

    This story jumped around alot and was told from different persons each chapter. although this added for variety, it could get confusing. I thought the overall message was empowerment of women and how to live your life to the fullest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 1999

    Deeply disturbing, anti-Catholic

    If a the quality of a book is judged by its ability to trigger the reader's emotions, then I would have to give this book five stars. It is extraordinarily well-written and provocative. However, I was deeply disturbed by the anti-Catholic themes running throughout the book and especially by the fact that our heroine finds that her spiritual ally is a woman who committed infanticide. Instead of suggesting that Ellen honestly reach out to family, friends, and/or clergy for help, the author seems to blame Ellen's Catholicism for her inability to discuss her problems with anyone. Prospective readers should be forewarned about these troubling themes.

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