Hildy and Meryl

Is this a dream?

Is this a dream?

So, in case you haven’t heard the exciting news, Meryl Streep has signed on to play Hildy in the film version of The Good House! Robert DeNiro is Frank!  Here’s a link to one of the reports from yesterday when the deal was announced:


I have known for a while but didn’t want to say anything until it was announced by the producer, Jane Rosenthal of TriBeCa Productions and FilmNation.  This is just so exciting and yes, I have met Meryl! Yes, she’s beautiful and down-to-earth and smart and funny. And she really “gets” Hildy.

What a week it has been. And it’s only Wednesday.

Yesterday, I took Zidane out for a ride on the trails behind my house and really had a good cry there.  Mark and I had ridden those trails together so many times.  It was a beautiful afternoon, there was a cool breeze and the breeze reminded me of autumn, which I love.  It was bittersweet.  I have so many blessings, one of them is the horse that I was riding yesterday.  He walked quietly along, though I’m sure he thought I’d become completely unhinged.  Thank you all, again, for all the kind comments.  I really have never been this sad about the loss of an animal and we have had many animals, and of course, many have died.  It’s always sad, but in  the past, I think part of the sadness has been the knowledge that with the passing of the pet, is the passing of a time in our family’s history.    When I look at old photos, I can often date them by the dog in the photo.  I’ll see a photo of a Christmas tree with Daphne playing in front of it as a pup and know what Christmas it was.  If Lulu’s in the photo, I know it was after 2008. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here, except that when Mark died, it wasn’t like any of the other animals.  I miss that horse, not just because he represents an era in my life that is now over, or because he was so much fun to ride.  Those things are true, but he was such a character, so larger than life, that I just really miss him because I loved him so much.

As many of you know, I can’t remember a time in my childhood when I didn’t long for a horse.  I had so many imaginary ponies and horses when I was a child and when Denis bought me my first horse, years ago, it was a dream come true.  Often, when you wish for something for so long, the reality doesn’t live up to your fantasies.  Gabriel, my first horse, was and is amazing, but Mark was the horse I wanted all my life.  He not only lived up to my fantasies of what it would be like to own a horse, he was better than my fantasies.  Well, he was the real deal.  Yesterday, I was talking to somebody who knew him.  A lot of people knew him because we did so much together – fox hunting, hunter-pacing, various attempts at showing in different riding disciplines and of course lots of trail riding at Steep Rock.  This person said to me, “He wasn’t a perfect horse, but he was the perfect horse for you.”  And he was.

Wait, this was supposed to be about the exciting film announcement!  Here’s a little happy dance in celebration of that:



  1. What a roller coaster ride! Sending you good wishes throughout it all. SUCH great news about the movie! Take care, Ann.

  2. ryder Ziebarth says:

    Meryl Streep grew up in Bernardsville, NJ (5 miles from where I live in Bedminster)and went to Bernardsville HighSchool where she had her first stage success. Her brother, Dana, married a college house mate of mine back in 1978(they recently divorced) and I met her at the wedding. When her movies play at the Clearville Bernardsville Cinema, the audience always claps and gives her a standing ovation.Maybe you’ll have to have your premiere out here and invite your closest 150 friends. And Robert, DeNiro is a Nantucket-lover, BTW. You have that in common for conversation on the set! Small world, huh?

  3. ryder Ziebarth says:

    It’s the Scottish in those warm bloods.

  4. Your postings about Mark have been so poignant and beautiful. I think Mark was/is your muse. You have may have captured him perfectly in words, in video, in photographs, but he captured your heart and inspired your creativity. What a great horse!


  6. Ann Leary says:

    I think you’re right, Helena, thanks.

  7. I am so so sorry to hear about Mark’s passing. I always enjoyed the posting of Mark and his videos and felt like I knew him just a little bit.

    Cant wait for the movie, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading The Good House!

  8. Ann, It’s still so sad to read about Mark. He truly was a special horse. I remember the videos you took, filming above his beautiful mane, swaying with the breeze. He was so beautiful, so soulful, so true. The greatest gift you received from Mark was the depth of love you had for him. Love is boundless and endless. That we know for sure. OK, back to the movie news. How exciting!

  9. Wendy from Wisconsin says:

    Very exciting news about the movie, Ann! I hope this bit of good news helps lighten your spirit with the grief you have over Mark’s passing. I am still stunned by his passing, but I know he will live on through all the blog posts, videos and pictures you have shared with us over the years. We are thniking of you and sending our love and prayers to you-we are with you in spirit.

  10. ArielinWPB says:

    Next book, dedicated to Mark, will be called, “The Good Horse!”

  11. Mark captured my heart and I only met him in person twice! He had an actual sense of humor and charm. He also had that solid quality that resembled cobs with British royalty aboard….a worthiness of some sort.

    Having lost my own trusted friend/trail buddy (years ago) I can imagine the stabbing pain you must feel.

    Hope the news stories about The Good House film are offering some distraction!

    When we saw you and Mark at Steep Rock in May, you mentioned coffee. Life was having its way with me at the time, and I was out of state a lot, and couldn’t do it. If you still want that coffee, you can tell “Mark stories” and I promise to be a good listener!

    • Carol, I said the same thing – Mark had such a sense of humor! And I must tell you both that Lyra loves (and I mean LOVES) the painting of Ann and Mark – the little postcard Carol gave me is the first thing she takes off the fridge and studies intently. Several times a day. We may need another one, this one is frayed at the edges and a bit worn from her exuberance!

      Ann, congratulations on such a fabulous development about your book/ film. No one deserves it more.

  12. Wow! Such exciting news…and perfect casting! The Good House was this year’s favorite for me by a long-shot! And perfect for a movie. Sometimes I cringe when I hear certain author’s talking about their books as movies, but I always thought of The Good House in a visual way. Loved the setting, and Hildy – her age, profession, personality. – totally resonated with me.
    Very sorry to hear about your special companion, Mark 🙁 Like you, we’ve had lots of dogs, cats, and a horse throughout the years and loved them all, but there is always one or two that holds a special place in our hearts for sure.
    Hope to hear of a signing/reading of yours nearby at some point (Sheborn, Massachusetts). Continued good fortune! ~ Deborah

  13. Oh Ann, I’m so sorry to hear about Mark. My deepest condolences. Losing a pet is truly losing a family member.

    Also, congrats on The Good House.


  14. Ann Leary says:

    Thanks all of you, and tomorrow I’ll post a photo of the beautiful painting Carol did of Mark.
    I was thinking today that it’s because of this blog that I have so many photos and videos of Mark. I would never have written about him let alone taken so many photos and videos if not for the blog, so thanks all of you. xo

  15. Angela Butticci says:

    Dear Ann,
    Congratulations! I’m so happy for you. It’s a wonderful book ! I love it.
    I’m so sorry for your loss. I will keep Mark in my prayers and thoughts . I know he is so very proud of you.
    Have a blessed day
    Sincerely, Angela Butticci

  16. beth banach says:


  17. Babs Johnson says:

    What a dream team who will bring these two incredible characters to life as beautifully as you did in the book. On a somber note, I am so truly sorry about Mark. He certainly had a magnificent life with you…hope that is a comfort.

  18. Ann Leary says:

    I know I mentioned before that Mark had a great sense of humor and this video shows it so well. Halfway through, around 1:30 he decides to pull the dumb horse act. It was probably partially out of sheer boredom, but also, he was enjoying doing it. He knew exactly what I wanted him to do but it amused him to stare dully into space like an old plow horse. Then, at 1:50, he deliberately knocks my foot out from under me. You can see him looking down at my foot just before, so it was totally planned and he did it in such a way that I lost my footing for a second, but wasn’t hurt in the least. He just thought stuff like that was funny.

  19. Wish you and Mark had been able to model for a planned, better lit session. I had hoped to one day do a more intimate painting of you and Mark…..perhaps grooming, bridling, preparing for a ride….do a mini session at Steep Rock….. Ah well….schedules, work, life…..DARN.

  20. Congratulations on the film, Ann. I hope you will be doing the screenplay. I have been thinking about Mark over the last few days. I think he was the person we all wish we could be.

  21. So bittersweet,, to read about the success of your book and exciting movie to come and yet still saddened by the passing of Mark. Thank you for sharing him with us and remember the good times!

  22. I am so sorry to hear about your loss.

    Life is so strange…to have such very very good news while coping with an unexpected sadness. We truly never know what the next day brings. As sad as we may be, a brighness is often just around the corner. So bittersweet.

    Thank you for sharing Mark with us.

  23. Linda C. says:

    So sad and happy for you all at once. Lisa told me about this yesterday- my girls are at “horse camp” with her this week. I hope they get the opportunity to love a horse in that way…

  24. Ann what a big bag of emotions! Congrats on getting Meryl Streep!! She is my favorite actress of all time. So much as when I was in 8th grade I wrote a letter to her when I was attending Children’s Theater Company School here in Mpls. The only problem was that I never sent it. I didn’t know where to send it to. We didn’t have the computers back then to do that. No Google! Haha! That was 1981. So, if you get an Addy for her, I have some of her mail 🙂 Of course Robert DeNiro is perfection as well.

    So excited for you, especially during these big days of grieving. Many hugs to you for the happy and the sad events. Have a great big, delicious cup of coffee to celebrate today. God only knows you need it for all of these heavy emotions 🙂 XXOO

  25. Ann, I love that video of you & Mark. I bet that the horses that did better than you & Mark at “horse ballet” couldn’t even attempt stepping!
    Congratulations on the great news about the movie. I am so happy for you. I loved the book and look forward to seeing the movie.

  26. This is just what your book needed. So exciting!

    I am sorry to hear about Mark. But as you said, he always made you smile in the end – and in the end, after the tears, the smile will still be there alongside the memories

  27. stephanie says:


    Just read about Mark and it brought tears to my eyes. I have always enjoyed all your adventures
    with him and loved his videos. I have been, where you are at this moment. I know how much it
    hurts. I have lost a special horse and recently my beloved German Shepherd.

    There is a saying something about, “How lucky we have been to have loved something that is that
    hard to say goodbye too.” One thing that always made me feel better was knowing the wonderful life
    that I gave to them. How lucky they are when there are so many horses and dogs that just get tossed away.
    I always feel like I have been blessed by their presence in my life, even though it is so hard at the end. They have enriched my life. I have made some of my best friends, have done things,and gone places I never would have without them. They are truly a gift, along with the tremendous love they give to us so

    Mark was a very loved and lucky horse and you were loved by him and he had the one of the best lives
    a horse could have.

    On a happier note, I am thrilled about the movie from your wonderful book. My best to you.


  28. Ann,

    I had no idea you had started to blog again so I have been reading and catching up today. First and formost I am so sorry about the loss of Mark. I was so sad reading your post. Then I read about The Good House and I almost fell off my chair. This is amazing, I am so happy for you. Meryl Steep playing Hildy, holy cow. What a week you have had. I can not wait to see the movie and I have my signed copy of your book from the Hickory Stick, its’ like a dream for sure. Does Denis get a cameo in the movie?

  29. p.s. It is August and I know we have a lot of blog b-days coming up.

  30. Christine says:

    Congratulations!!! Such exciting news!!!!

    Again, so sorry for your loss. But I have to say that when you first shared the news about The Good House becoming a film I thought about Mark making a cameo in the movie.

  31. Marsha from Massachusetts says:

    He had so much personality!

  32. Donna Washburn says:

    I only know Mark through your posts and I haven’t read your book (yet), but as I watched the cute video of you and Mark dancing, especially when Mark just stopped, looked at you and was probably thinking “enough of this, I’m tired” then bumped you and looked at you as if to say “well, you look pretty silly dancing by yourself, so I’ll join in again”, it occurred to me that perhaps Mark left this world to make room for Hildy to come to life.

    I recall crying harder when my dog died than when my father died (my father had cancer for many years and he was Finally at rest). Go have another good cry for all of us. Mark was your friend and loved you unconditionally. Thank you for sharing your extremely poignant blog.

    Take care and best of luck with the movie! You deserve good things. Donna

  33. Ariel in WPB says:

    Title of Ann’s next novel? “The Good HORSE”, starring Mark!

  34. Judy Machuga says:

    I am very sorry that Mark passes away. I have no doubt he had a wonderful life with you.

  35. Sorry to hear about Mark. You made a nice couple. Glad to hear about the movie — that’s big! How will they do Hildy’s voice?

  36. Just “met” you through your book “the Good House” -thank you for how poignantly you expressed Hildy’s demons and drama. I loved the book, so I was curious about the author and had guessed that Denis Leary was your husband. Anyway, just saw your clip with your beloved Mark doing your step dance and you are quite a pair. Your love of horses comes through in your book.. I wish you healing. Thanks for sharing the other side of your own life through your revelations and characters. Lots to think about. Best wishes on the movie, can’t wait to see it.

  37. Happy Birthday Ann

  38. I am so sorry to read about Mark. I only saw your FB
    post about the movie being made and I just now
    got back to read through your blog.

  39. I haven’t posted for a long time. I am so sorry about Mark.

  40. Maureen from NJ says:

    Dear Ann,

    A busy life has kept me away from the blog for awhile, and I am just learning of Mark’s passing.

    I’m so very sorry for the crushing loss of your beloved Mark. I know how special he was to you….I think he will always be your number one boy. I know he was very loved by you, and you gave him the gift of a great life.

    The support I got from this blog family when I lost a beloved pet two years ago was so helpful to me, I hope it has been likewise for you. I hope that time will heal your broken heart, and you will be able to relish the special memories you have Mark.

    And oh, how proud you must be to have two of the greatest actors of our time signed on to bring your book to life….so happy for you.

    Sending you hugs,

    Maureen from NJ

  41. Dear Ann –

    I was devastated to learn that your beloved Mark passed away. I know you adored him and must be consumed with grief. Mark was the most beautiful horse I’ve ever seen (those eyelashes!), with an amazing personality and sense of humor. A very special animal, indeed. I loved all the wonderful stories, photos and videos you posted. It’s so good that you were able to cuddle and “pet” him before he died. May he rest in peace.

    Congratulations on the casting for The Good House. Could you have asked for anything more?

    Hope all the dogs are well.

    Linda S.

  42. two such opposite sides of the heart. odd that i decided to check up on you at this particular time. i must congratulate you on your book, and the fact that you have meryl. i’ve always felt like she can feel the part she is in, and will always do a movie justice… just as you write. everything you write, whether it be a book or a 2 sentence blurb…or a heartwrenching tribute to your best boy. i can’t believe he has passed…not gone though, he will always be with you, and one day, i know this to be true…thoughts of him will make you smile, maybe even giggle…and sometimes he will still make you cry. take time to feel the loss, don’t let anyone tell you that you’ve gone on too long. it is a tremendous healing that must take place in order to reach the peaceful place of just knowing you had the joy of his company, even though it will never feel like it was long enough. i’ll speak softly to my girl this evening, rubbing her ears the way she too enjoys; i’ll tell her of your loss and your sadness, and she’ll help me pray in her way, for a gentle healing for your heart.

  43. While Meryl Streep can do no wrong, I confess the voice I heard and the face I saw while reading The Good House was of the journalist Linda Ellerbee! And I believe she’s a recovering alcoholic, too.

    What a great book! And deceptively light-hearted. You start out with a narrative reminiscent of Desperate Housewives, and where story goes after that is a dark and dangerous place. I loved it.

    Best wishes,


  1. […] By the way, the quote came from Ann Leary’s book, The Good House.  Have you had a chance to read it yet?  If not, you might want to because I just found out that the book will be made into a movie soon, starring Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro! […]

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