All good Irish tales seem to be sagas or is it all good family stories seem to be sagas? Noted writer Anne Enright's latest novel, The Green Road, is certainly a modern saga, but history hangs like a mist over the Madigan family.
The story is shaped by the Madigan matriarch's decision to sell the family home. We meet all the children and varied lives they lead. Their stories are rich. When we first meet the eldest son, he is going into the priesthood, but lands in the epicenter of gay life and the AIDS crisis in '80s Greenwich village. Another son is an aid worker who moves from locale to crisis not really changing the world.
The daughters have more local lives. One is a fading actress who has had some success but now is drowning in drink. The other is homemaker. Both women are trudging through middle age. The beauty of Enright's work is in the small moments. Everything from a brief encounter in the mammogram scan waiting room to running into old flames at the neighborhood pub hum with unsaid regret. The language Enright uses to tell these stories rich in Irish vernacular but tinged with modern sentiment.
I had the great pleasure via Book The Writer, the book club/author pairing service, to meet author Anne Enright. She talked about her writing process and in fact how she came to be a writer. The most delicious discussions were around the lives of the characters beyond the book. She was very clear on who was going to fare well and who was in for a hard time--much to some surprise and discussion of those gathered.
Other attendees spoke about how the stories and language tracked so closely with their own experience. What was clear was that Enright's approach to her writing is similar to her approach to life--that the stories will unfold at their own pace and with inevitability. And while the stories are firmly entrenched in Ireland, the experiences are universal.
I certainly came away wanting to immerse myself in more of her works. And if you fancy immersing yourself in Ireland, check out this friend's rental on the West Coast of Ireland. Located in the small town of Kells in Kerry, this beachside home will give you respite and loads of Irish culture: Rockfield House
About the Author
Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works. She has published three volumes of stories, one book of nonfiction, and five novels. In 2015, she was named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction. Her novel The Gathering won the Man Booker Prize, and her last novel, The Forgotten Waltz, won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri