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The Green Road by Anne Enright
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The Green Road (2015)

by Anne Enright

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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
I liked this quite a lot -- I'm not always crazy about Anne Enright's work, but The Green Road really worked for me. The characters were all fully fleshed-out--I thought Dan and Constance were particularly well handled--and the second half of the book manages to have both an elegiac quality and a shot of sly humor. And as always with Enright, the writing is beautifully elegant. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize
I wasn’t familiar with Anne Enright’s work before I was given The Green Road as a gift. The synopsis sounds wonderful:
From internationally acclaimed author Anne Enright comes a shattering novel set in a small town on Ireland's Atlantic coast. The Green Road is a tale of family and fracture, compassion and selfishness―a book about the gaps in the human heart and how we strive to fill them.
Spanning thirty years, The Green Road tells the story of Rosaleen, matriarch of the Madigans, a family on the cusp of either coming together or falling irreparably apart. As they grow up, Rosaleen's four children leave the west of Ireland for lives they could have never imagined in Dublin, New York, and Mali, West Africa. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she’s decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for a last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold.
A profoundly moving work about a family's desperate attempt to recover the relationships they've lost and forge the ones they never had, The Green Road is Enright's most mature, accomplished, and unforgettable novel to date.

I even saved it until I had to spend some time in an airport. It starts out pretty good, but quickly goes downhill in my opinion. The beginning and the ending are the best parts.
The story starts in 1980 with Hanna, seemingly the youngest of the Madigan brood. Mom Rosaleen has taken to her bed after the oldest, Dan, announces he wants to become a priest. The story then shifts to focus on Dan. It is 1991. He is living in New York. Not sure what his occupation is as the story is more about his life as a gay man and the AIDS epidemic more than anything. The next section focuses on Constance, stilling living in Ireland, in 1997. She is at a hospital to determine if the lump in her breast is cancer. The next shift is on Emmet, who is, I think, a missionary in Mali in 2002. As I read these sections, I felt that Enright kept the reader at arm’s length. Then the story jumps back to the Madigan home for Christmas 2005.
The father, who we don’t see much of, died ten years (I think) earlier. Rosaleen is the same melodramatic matriarch that she was in Hanna’s section. There are no explanations of how the four ended up like they did, which made me feel disconnected to the character’s problems.

I give The Green Road 2 out of 5 stars. ( )
  juliecracchiolo | Mar 2, 2018 |
A good read, but not memorable. The characters are all likable and believable. ( )
  MelbourneSharonB | Nov 2, 2017 |
Domestic comedy and drama in a middle-class Irish family from County Clare, from 1980 to the early 2000s, focused upon a spirited but rather scattered matriarch and her four "high-functioning" children.

Here Enright deals with serious themes but maintains a light touch, which made reading this novel a pleasant experience for me. In particular, I really liked her depiction of the several gay characters. (It didn't bother me that the "The Green Road" is episodic in structure, and the first half of the book reads like a sequence of linked short stories.) ( )
  yooperprof | Aug 14, 2017 |
The Green Road is a family narrative told through place and time. The writing demonstrates real lives filled with compassion and selfishness and effortlessly carries the reader forward. It is a thoroughly Irish book that considers issues both modern and traditional through that lens. Our Thursday night book group enjoyed it for a variety of reasons that led to a lively discussion. I found the writing style and the structure of the book the best aspects, even while some of the characters, not all, were somewhat opaque. The story explored both the gaps in the human heart and family tensions in our modern age.

The story unfolds over decades with the first half of the book constructed from vignettes that might stand on their own as short stories. These stories explore the lives of the children of Rosaleen, matriarch of the Madigans, a family on the cusp of either coming together or falling irreparably apart. Each of the four Madigan children and their mother Rosaleen receive a chapter of their own beginning with Hannah Madigan. Hannah's chapter focuses on a family member as a child and deals with her relationship with her father. She is traumatized by viewing the culling of a chicken for dinner on her grandmother's farm. Dan Madigan's story jumps forward to 1991 during his time in New York with his fiance as his repressed homosexuality comes to the fore during the AIDS epidemic. He gradually accepts his life and begins living in Canada with a life partner. Constance Madigan's chapter is based in 1997 Limerick and considers her domestic roles of mother and wife. She is seen balancing the concerns of her health that make her face her own mortality. Emmet has traveled to Mali in 2002 and works with impoverished children even as he is haunted by previous relief work he has been involved with. All the while his relationships are slowly deteriorating.

Rosaleen, in her early old age, announces that she's decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for a last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold. The second part of the book focuses on this homecoming as the story comes together through a combination of memories and family interactions. This was the best section of the book for this reader. It is where the home becomes a character as much as the Matriarch and her children.

The book is a pleasure to read through the story of the family and the author's beautiful prose. The story about a family's desperate attempt to recover the relationships they've lost and forge the ones they never had becomes a profoundly moving work. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jun 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
The novel's form beautifully embodies its theme. Since it is concerned with breakages and splits, it begins by presenting us with one of Rosaleen's quarrelling children at a time, a chapter for each.
 
Enright withholds closure but doesn’t skimp on pleasure. Barely a page goes by without a striking phrase or insight. She convinces you of her setting, whether it’s west Africa or the East Village. The sons’ stories, unfolding farther afield, are story-driven; the energy in the daughters’ stories comes from the texture of experience (a supermarket run; half-cut on vodka).
 
The characters are so finely realised that they seem continuous: we feel the pressures on Emmet as coming from the long past, part of the air he breathes; we understand that the absence of all three of Constance’s siblings is an unspoken part of her homemaking; most extraordinary of all, we experience Dan’s gaps and distance as part of his character, his distance from himself. It is not much like a novel, but it is a lot like knowing people; an awful lot like being alive.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393248216, Hardcover)

A major new novel from the winner of the Man Booker Prize.

Spanning thirty years and three continents, The Green Road tells the story of Rosaleen, matriarch of the Madigan family, and her four children.

Ardeevin, County Clare, Ireland. 1980. When her oldest brother Dan announces he will enter the priesthood, young Hanna watches her mother howl in agony and retreat to her room. In the years that follow, the Madigan children leave one by one: Dan for the frenzy of New York under the shadow of AIDS; Constance for a hospital in Limerick, where petty antics follow simple tragedy; Emmet for the backlands of Mali, where he learns the fragility of love and order; and Hanna for modern-day Dublin and the trials of her own motherhood. When Christmas Day reunites the children under one roof, each confronts the terrible weight of family ties and the journey that brought them home. The Green Road is a major work of fiction about the battles we wage for family, faith, and love.

“Enright’s razor-sharp writing turns every ordinary detail into a weapon, to create a story that cuts right to the bone.”—New York Review of Books

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:15 -0400)

"Spanning thirty years, The Green Road tells the story of Rosaleen, matriarch of the Madigans, a family on the cusp of either coming together or falling irreparably apart."--Dust jacket flap.

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