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The Green Road (2015)

by Anne Enright

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8766018,216 (3.55)134
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 134 mentions

English (58)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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 |
Oh, the beauty of sinking into seemingly effortless prose.
I am sorry. I cannot invite you home for Christmas because I am Irish and my family is mad.

Our Irish family story starts with young Hanna in County Clare in 1980 and Dan, the eldest, announcing that when he leaves university he will enter the priesthood, which makes his mother take to her bed for days.
We then move with Dan to New York’s gay scene in 1991, with death from incurable AIDS stalking the pages, evoked in a few spare scenes.
We return to Ireland and Constance, the older sister, going for a breast cancer check up in 1997 in County Limerick, all her close friends having moved away, but she is happily married with three children.
Then we catch up with Emmet, the younger brother, a foreign aid worker, loving and losing in Mali in 2002. He had returned home and nursed his dying father ten years earlier.
Back in County Clare in 2005, their mother, Rosaleen, is getting old and decides to sell the family home and the smallholding inherited from her husband. This is the catalyst for the Madigan’s Christmas family reunion.

The return to the family home by each sibling is carefully described, and then there is the surprise of Christmas Day. This is a brilliant set piece, which is followed by an open ending of sorts, with you wanting to know more of the lives of the Madigans, but leaving that to your imagination. ( )
  CarltonC | Oct 3, 2020 |
Some excellent passages and interesting thoughts on family, togetherness, and identity. Enright is a master of the minutae; the story focuses on one family of four children from Co. Clare, Ireland, and their journeys through globe and life but is strongest in its small, banal observations. Slow beginning but overall this is a very enjoyable, thoughtful book. ( )
  ephemeral_future | Aug 20, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (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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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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