“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail,” says Oprah.

I’ve had a crush on actor Denis Leary ever since I met him backstage one night at Carnegie Hall.

This excellent performer who played the conflicted firefighter in television’s “Rescue Me” has been on top of my list ever since.

Now I’ve developed a crush on his writer wife, Ann Leary. She refers to herself like this: “I’m a celebrity wife, for God’s sake. I wouldn’t want to read the novel of a celebrity wife!”

But I did want to read Ann’s new novel – “The Good House,” from St. Martin’s Press – and sure enough, it landed on the best-seller list and, in my opinion, is the “must-read” of the month.

Writer Leary has a heroine you’ll never forget. Hildy is a 50-ish, semi-successful realtor in a small New England town. And Hildy is a “secret” alcoholic. At least her love of a glass or two of wine, or a whole bottle from a stash in the basement, keeps her thinking of herself and her “problem” as secret. I hate giving too much away in writing about a new work of fiction and suffice it to say, Hildy is descended from a line of Salem witches. She has a gift for self-analysis that borders on the hysterical – her description of her divorced and gay ex-husband and her two daughters making an “intervention” in her life is priceless.

Ann Leary’s fascinating inner dialogue demands attention and you never know where Hildy’s thoughts will take you. “The Good House” offers a number of fascinating characters and smart plot moves that continually surprise.

The author already gave a big interview to the New York Times Fashion and Style section, conducted by Judith Newman, on Feb. 1, and I can’t improve on that.

I was struck by this quote from Tribeca Productions’ Jane Rosenthal, who has already optioned the book for a movie. “Oh, Meryl [Streep] should be Hildy, of course!” But, of course. Still, don’t wait for the movie. You need to read this novel about a woman operating at full speed, drinking – usually alone but sometimes with others, insisting she doesn’t have “a problem” but knowing she does.

It was refreshing to read a description of Ann Leary by another writer, Julie Klam, who calls her “pathologically modest.”

The humor in this serious fiction is quite outstanding and I don’t want you to miss it.


I am still recovering from my shared Feb. 2 birthday dinner with the great actress Elaine Stritch. I was drinking; she wasn’t. But Elaine, now 88, was really on a tear and she seems determined to go live in Birmingham, Mich., when she isn’t acting and singing – against all my expert advice.


In the New York Port Authority, they were giving out cards and chocolates the other morning that signaled a new novel titled “Secret.” (Promoters say that this is the new “50 Shades of Grey.”) The card urged us to go right to and enter a New Orleans Girls Weekend Sweepstakes that would take you free to the French Quarter where you could take part in FestiGals.


Nick Symmonds is one of the hottest runners in the world. He is the five-time U.S. champion and two-time Olympian in the 800-meters. Last summer, Nick attempted to court Paris Hilton. (He even sent a note asking her father’s “permission.”) Things didn’t get too far – lucky for Nick. Recently, he’s been in New York to run in the Millrose Games track meet – he is aiming for his sixth U.S. title. He is also aiming to connect with supermodel Michelle Vawer. Nick has also recorded a strong pro-gay message, one of the few sports stars to take this step.

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