The Green Road

Anne Enright (born 11 October 1962, is an Irish author. She has published novels, short stories, essays, and one non-fiction book. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, her novel The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize. She has also won the 1991 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the 2001 Encore Award and the 2008 Irish Novel of the Year.

In The Green Road Rosaleen Madigan is the mother of four self-deprecating children, each of whom live independently around the globe. When Rosaleen decides to sell the family house in Ireland, the four children return for one last Christmas, with all their emotional baggage, and attempt to coast through the motions of a happy family. The Madigans strike that familiar discord of familial indifference: they certainly don’t hate one another, and hardly fight with more than a few cross words. But they’re indifferent, distracted, careless, self-centred and lonely.

Much of the interest in this book is in character development. In the first half of the novel, each chapter closely follows one child. We see Dan in New York in the 90s: he’s experimenting with his sexuality and socializing among the gay art scene of Chelsea, Soho, and Fire Island. Emmet, meanwhile, is working in Mali, treating the sick and needy. Constance, the eldest daughter, is still in Ireland caught in the whirlwind of a family of her own. Hanna, Rosaleen’s youngest, is a new mother with a crippling addiction to alcohol. The author manages to develop an unspoken link between the four children and their mother. For example, Constance, goes in to check a lump found during a routine mammogram to confirm a family-wide fascination with death. Almost as if haunted by their father’s untimely passing decades prior, each character is either quietly self-destructive or morbidly drawn to pain and suffering. Dan has watched as handfuls of his friends succumb to HIV. Emmett and Hanna both seem to revel in their respective stances on the brink of mortality. To know death, to have felt its presence, is to be the more acutely alive. Each Madigan, Rosaleen included, strives for this sensibility, unaware that this morbidity and the risk of a genuine, personal loss might bring them together.

This is a reflective novel, for sure, but ultimately it is an affirmation of life. Begin your appreciation of Anne Enright here. Enquire at your local library or consult for full bibliographic detail.




320 pages in Jonathan Cape

First published 2015

ISBN  978-0224089050



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Anne Enright


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