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The Green Road by Anne Enright

The Green Road (original 2015; edition 2015)

by Anne Enright (Author)

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7405521,087 (3.58)131
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)
Title:The Green Road
Authors:Anne Enright (Author)
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Green Road by Anne Enright (2015)

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    tangledthread: I kept thinking of Three Junes as I read this book.

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» See also 131 mentions

English (53)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Could not finish. After 1st 2 lengthy chapters I had no desire to read more about this Irish Catholic dysfunctional family. The blurb says "indomitable matriarch" but so far she is just melodramatic. I need to care about a character to wade thru the muck with them. ( )
  juniperSun | May 29, 2020 |
The children of Rosaleen and the late Pat Madigan have grown up and scattered from the nest. They have roamed near and far from their home; reaching Canada, third world countries and down the road in Dublin. After she announces that she wishes to sell the family home, the children, Dan, Emmet, Constance and Hanna are drawn back for one last Christmas. This final celebration with their challenging but difficult mother will bring to the surface the tensions that have always been there as the children face a change that none of them expected.

The quality of the writing is excellent, making it effortless to read. Enright has managed to capture perfectly the mood and moments of the era. The characters of the four children are briefly sketched in individual chapters before they are thrust together in the family reunion in the second part of the story, where the strains in the relationships are tested. If you are looking for a complex plot then this might not be the book for you as not a lot happens; just the deeply fragmented layers of family sagas. It did feel a bit clichéd though, otherwise it was a fine read. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
It was the characterization that struck me. Each of the characters is very different from the others, but it is wholly believable that they come from the same family. You can see how each of the five children would have developed the way they did. And, upon reflection, the ending is very good. Family is a bit of a myth, I am afraid. ( )
  PatsyMurray | Mar 22, 2020 |
Classic Anne Enright in many respects. The characterizations are gorgeous and her ability to write the telling, minor details of a scene in a way that makes it come alive in surprising ways is as incredible as ever.

If anything, it was a bit too realistic, in that there was no real narrative arc. Difficult Mom/Rosaleen remained difficult in all the same ways, her children catered to or resisted her in the same ways throughout the book, things ended up pretty much where they started. This is of course exactly what happens in our actual lives, but in fiction one is accustomed to something happening. ( )
  andrea_mcd | Mar 10, 2020 |
This is billed as a family-saga, but it often feels more like a linked-short-story sequence, as the viewpoint switches between Rosaleen Madigan and her four children in a series of extended vignettes spread over some twenty-five years. Even when she brings the family together, three-quarters of the way through, they all still seem to be living in their own bubbles, and the book is often more about what people don't tell each other than about how they interact.

But the vignettes are all very finely realised, with lots of telling observation: Enright is clearly up there with Alice Munro when it comes to short stories, and it almost seems like an irritating distraction that we have to map all these disparate people together into a coherent novel.

Enjoyable and rewarding. ( )
  thorold | Feb 3, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (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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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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