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Extended Audio Sample Vinegar Hill Audiobook, by A. Manette Ansay Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (13,109 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: A. Manette Ansay Narrator: Debra Monk Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2006 ISBN: 9780061171567
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In a stark, troubling, yet ultimately triumphant celebration of self-determination, award-winning author A. Manette Ansay re-creates a stifling world of guilt and pain, and the tormented souls who inhabit it. It is 1972 when circumstance carries Ellen Grier and her family back to Holly's Field, Wisconsin. Dutifully accompanying her newly unemployed husband, Ellen has brought her two children into the home of her in-laws on Vinegar Hill -- a loveless house suffused with the settling dust of bitterness and routine -- where calculated cruelty is a way of life preserved and perpetuated in the service of a rigid, exacting and angry God. Behind a facade of false piety, there are sins and secrets in this place that could crush a vibrant yhoung woman's passionate spirit. And here Ellen must find the strength to endure, change, and grow in the all-pervading darkness that threatens to destroy everything she is and everyone she loves.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A modern-day Little House on the Prairie gone mad…Manette Ansay is a powerful storyteller with lyrical gifts, and a wry, observant eye.”

    Amy Tan, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Sweet, tender, and chilling.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “One of the best books of the year.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Ansay paints a searing portrait of the Midwest’s dark side…Vinegar Hill remains a tough, uncompromising tale…Fine, spare prose and a hopeful ending.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “[Ansay’s] language can be both apt and beautiful.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Reminiscent of the works of Jane Smiley or a more bitter Jon Hassler, this book is recommended for all collections.”

    Library Journal

  • “Ansay writes with a diamond clarity tempered by compassion.

    Booklist

  • “[A] sensitive, probing story about the lasting scars of abuse. Lovely prose.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • An Oprah’s Book Club Selection in 1999
  • A USA Today Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lezli Gunn | 2/20/2014

    " This will make you think you're the best mother-in-law in the world! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Dev | 2/19/2014

    " One of the most insipid books I have read in a long time! DEPRESSING! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jeanine Halada | 2/2/2014

    " Another one of Oprah's books I did not enjoy:( "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle | 1/31/2014

    " Excellent read...very easy to connect to the main character Ellen. Really was able to totally absorb myself in this book and each of the characters. I highly recommend. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judy | 1/29/2014

    " read as a book on tape. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Chris Almeida | 1/23/2014

    " This is the perfect book if you're looking for something extremely depressing with no redeeming qualities to be found in any of the characters! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Shelly Newman | 1/23/2014

    " Didn't like it at all. I thought it plodding and depressing and the characters had no redeeming value. I wanted to kick the main female character in the ass early on and tell her to get a life. I wanted to do the same to the main male character...hell, I wanted to do that to ALL of the characters! I like to escape in a book....this book was too much like other people's dreary lives. It had no message that I could tell. Not fun to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky C | 1/19/2014

    " Hard to read but worth it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ginny | 1/19/2014

    " Reminded me a little of Ethan Frome as I was reading it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joy | 1/18/2014

    " An Oprah book selection about a women verbally abused by her husband. A dark, deprtessing, well written tale and well worth reading. Pain and salvation, take control of your life themes. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sharon Murphy | 1/6/2014

    " This book had nothing---I mean nothing to share with anyone. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maryvernick | 1/1/2014

    " Entertaining, Oprah pick. Kind of a downer, not to be read if you are down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brendygirl | 12/17/2013

    " 3 1/2 stars. I thought it reminded me of growing up in the Midwest. It spoke to the elephant in the room and people living life with their eyes shut, sometimes swollen shut. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amanda | 12/12/2013

    " Hmmm.. So I read this book in December and I already don't remember what happened- and that says a lot. This book is pretty forgettable and I just didn't connect with the characters at all. Apparently you can't always trust Oprah- (except when she endorses a certain political candidate) "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Erinmarie510 | 12/10/2013

    " Too depressing!! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Alison | 11/30/2013

    " Could not even finish it! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Marty | 11/10/2013

    " Frustrating characters, making terrible choices. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margaret | 8/5/2013

    " The angst was just too much for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shelly | 6/16/2013

    " I didn't really enjoy reading this. I didn't feel like I gained or learned anything. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tonya | 5/31/2013

    " Loved this one.Trying to make my way through the Oprah's book list. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brooke | 4/24/2013

    " I only read it coz i pikt it up cheap. Kinda droned on with very few interesting moments. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tiara | 3/7/2013

    " I'm still trying to sort out how I feel about this book. That's not necessarily a good thing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer Boaz | 10/26/2012

    " Started out okay, got weird; just didn't develop characters, make me care about them, or really give any kind of closure. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 April | 10/23/2012

    " WOW! There is a lot going on in this small book. The reason for 4 stars instead of 5 is that I wanted to know more. There seems to be a lot left unsaid. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michãel | 8/22/2012

    " I know I read it, but I can't remember anything about it-- even after reading the synopsis. Perhaps it's my poor memory, but I'm guessing it's not that great. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Sheppard | 3/13/2012

    " This is the book that got me reading again. It is definately not a feel good book, but I loved it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nancy | 11/5/2011

    " This was on the shelf from a book sale and I guess I hadn't noticed it was an Oprah book club pick because I've learned to avoid those. Like seemingly all of them, this one is a story of a cruelly dysfunctional family. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angela | 6/26/2011

    " Notes written on September 14, 2008: I should know better than to delay writing a review. I finished this novel months ago and don't remember a thing about it, except I liked it and I didn't throw it across the room when I was done. So there. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 6/18/2011

    " well written, very depressing, as it must have been to be an unhappily married woman in the 60s and 70s... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jaime | 6/15/2011

    " This is a very painful book. I'm reading it as part of a book club,or I am certain that I would not finish it.
    The story is long and boring and the characters are not interesting at all.
    At least I only have 50 pages left. I hope something exciting happens.
    "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ctb | 5/16/2011

    " Taught me I don't have the same reading tastes as Oprah. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Misty | 5/9/2011

    " I know that I read this book and that I liked it but I am not too sure what to rate it, it was a long time ago... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Suzi | 5/9/2011

    " hate is too strong a word, but cant say I liked this book either "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tiffany | 4/24/2011

    " Frustrated by all the angst and suffering by many of the characters. I was releived to finish the book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 3/24/2011

    " A good book but I have to say it was the third book that I've read this year with a reference to twins. Very wierd! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sherri | 3/22/2011

    " It is scarey how cruelty and abuse affect each generation, and how difficult it is to break that cycle. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brooke | 3/11/2011

    " I only read it coz i pikt it up cheap. Kinda droned on with very few interesting moments. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kama | 3/5/2011

    " tugged at my heart strings a little. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 2/26/2011

    " Powerful and compeling. After reading this book, I had to read all of Ansay's books. I did. Sometimes this book was hard to get through because of the graphic scenes and situations, but run don't walk to your public library or book store to read this timeless classic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/23/2011

    " This was a depressing account of a family who, under the father's control, move in with the their loveless, vengeful, abusive in-laws. For me, this book signifies courage. Courage to stand up for what you believe in and dig yourself out of the gloom that life has given you. "

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About the Author

A. Manette Ansay is the author of eight books, including Vinegar Hill, Midnight Champagne (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award), and Blue Water. She has received the Pushcart Prize, two Great Lakes Book Awards, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches in the MFA writing program at the University of Miami.