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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Green Road

Anne Enright’s latest novel, The Green Road, spans twenty five years of the Madigan family of County Clare, Ireland.  The novel opens in 1980 with Dan, the oldest, favourite child telling his mother Rosaleen that he plans to become a priest. She is devastated and retreats to her bedroom for days. She fusses and fumes about Dan's "vocation" from the confines of her bed while the younger children wander about downstairs.
The story moves on to critical periods in the lives of the siblings. In 1991 Dan is living in New York City with a girl but has relations with men as well. (Was this what Rosaleen feared when Dan told her he wanted to be a priest?)
A couple of years later oldest, responsible daughter Constance has a breast cancer scare. She has three children and is married to a contractor who is very nonchalant about her health issue. Jump ahead another few years and Emmet is an aid worker in Mali and a bit self-righteous. 
Suddenly it's 2005 and the youngest child, Hanna, is a failed actress in Dublin, mother of a baby girl and a bit of a drunk. Dan has settled down with a male partner. Rosaleen has announced her plan to sell the family home and the now middle-aged Madigan siblings have decided to spend Christmas together. They have changed a good deal and are strangers to each other now but Rosaleen is the same manipulative matriarch. We know it won't go well and sure enough melodrama ensues. Then the story just stops all of a sudden. If you're looking for a story with a beginning, a middle and an end  this might not be the book for you. I love Enright's writing and enjoyed The Green Road immensely once I adjusted to the odd structure. 

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