Saturday, August 17, 2013

Anne Enright's The Forgotten Waltz

I have some tidying up today, given that I try to stack books I've finished to the left of my computer until I've at least mentioned them here, before I put them away. Pile's getting ready to topple again . . .

Most recently, I finished Anne Enright's The Forgotten Waltz. I was equal parts delighted and devastated by her Man Booker Prize-winning The Gathering, when I read and blogged about it five years ago. This novel is more. . . particular? At least, I assumed many could relate to the family she described in her earlier novel, and perhaps that's not the case. Even less easy to assume that many could, or would be willing to, relate to "the other woman" who narrates The Forgotten Waltz. She's not always so easy to like, distanced and distancing, an observer, judging, calibrating. She can be opportunistic, exploitative, calculating. And her all-in commitment to a wince-makingly not-going-to-be-good-for-her-life man. . . .Oh dear. Especially if you've been there. I once was, long long ago. Thank God I got derailed, pushed forcefully off that track, not without some injury (so young, so stupid). Our narrator is not so lucky. I won't say more for fear of plot-spoiling, but let me say that the onion layers get peeled back for some rich revelations. We might find more kinship with Gina than we first imagine. And we recognize and learn more about family and marriage and parents and children, about humanity and relationships and women, than "a novel about an affair" might be expected to divulge. Plus as a prose stylist. . . . she's a fine, fine writer. If you get a chance to pick this one up, do!

8 comments:

  1. I just finished The Book Thief last night and got The Forgotten Waltz on Kobo. I recently discovered The Captive Reader http://thecaptivereader.wordpress.com/books-read-2013/ which gave me a lot of good reading suggestions. Happy Reading!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You have been reading up a storm lately! Aren't we wonderfully lucky to have such rich satisfaction so close at hand! I feel so grateful to be a reader, and I know you are as well. Thanks for the recommendation of the Captive Reader.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anne Enright has been on my list for many years. probably since your post 5 years ago, (oh my!) I think I need to move her up to the top of the queue.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, so much queue shuffling to be done, it generally feels like leapfrog. . . ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I finished The Forgotten Waltz last night. Like you, I did not find Gina very likeable at first. But as the layers of the onion peeled away and I learned more about her family relationship with the loss of her father, her mother's nature and her mixed feelings about Fiona, I understood her better. Séan could not be the love of anyone's life! I have made similar mistakes in my own life at about the same age. This is a Madame Bovary story. Anne Enright uses her words and her details very skilfully.

    ReplyDelete
  6. So glad you enjoyed it. Enright's so skilful in moving us past our reservations about Gina, peeling away the onion as you say. And I like the connection you make with Madame Bovary -- even the comparative cultural contexts, the consumer culture of those particular economic situations, of how class operates, etc. Interesting comparison. Oddly, I felt better about my 19-year old self's stupidity, quite honestly, seeing some of the same blinkered behaviour so astutely detailed in a 30+year-old. . .

    ReplyDelete
  7. Intriguing! I was given this book recently and was curious as I had somewhat similar feelings for The Gathering. Saying that, it was a good read and this one looks interesting as well. I am now thinking that I will have to shuffle it up to the top of the pile. Thank you!

    PS..loved the thought of you clapping as you walk through the mountains to keep the bears at bay. I had never heard of bear bells before...I can't wait to check them out! :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. So many books, so little time. . . but I do think anything Enright pens is worth the time, if we can make it. . .
    And yes, bear bells. . . we come across hikers who do wear them. . . and theoretically, it's a sound idea (ha!)

    ReplyDelete