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The Green Road (2015)

by Anne Enright

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8606220,277 (3.56)140
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, not a priest, 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.… (more)
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» See also 140 mentions

English (60)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
The Green Road, by Anne Enright, is an introspective, remarkable, often poignant story about the four siblings of the Madigan family, and their mercurial, often tempestuous, aging mother, Rosaleen. Set primarily in Enright's native country of Ireland, the narratives of the four children sometimes wander from that green island to America and Mali, carrying with them the subterranean influences of their mother's influence.

This is a story about acceptance: of each other, of ourselves, of the places we inhabit. This could be anyone's story, and because of that Enright has succeeded in making a very specific story a common and relatable one.

The prose, while easy and straightforward, somehow is also quite precise and lush. She weaves description through the narrative with a deft hand, so that the reader is transported.

But the reader should be aware this isn't the sort of novel which immediately grabs you and hauls you into a consuming read. Rather, this is the type of novel to be read carefully, with commitment, working through the opening chapters with complete faith the author knows what's she's about, and will eventually have you quite absorbed and preoccupied with the world she's created.

Definitely a novel worthy of the literary accolades it's been accorded, and definitely a novel worthy of your time. ( )
  fiverivers | Jul 14, 2021 |
What a wonderful discovery—the Irish novelist Anne Enright! I heard a talk she gave that I found among the London Review of Books podcasts. It was called “Adam and Eve and the Origin of Blame”. I have listened to it twice, appreciating the ideas and the wry wit of Enright’s delivery. That same wit is sewn throughout The Green Road.
This tale of a family, a matriarch and her four children, is funny and sad. Enright portrays the individuals acutely; they all lived vividly for me, coherent and unique. I thought the interactions among them were especially believable and the book became harder and harder to put down as it arrived at its conclusion. ( )
  jdukuray | Jun 23, 2021 |
Should have been shortened to a short story- just meh ( )
  Betsy_Crumley | Jan 28, 2021 |
I did not love this book. I read and listened. I loved the Irish accents, but I think that’s the last thing I loved. Ah well. They can’t all be winners. ( )
  avanders | Nov 23, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (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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for Nicky Grene
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Later, after Hanna made some cheese on toast, her mother came in the kitchen and filled a hot water bottle from the big kettle on the range.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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, not a priest, 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.

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