Posts Tagged The Green Road
To provide a bit of background, I read 150 books in 2015. I wrote 52 reviews for 2015 releases on this site. I gave very few books 5/5*. I am currently reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara so since I started it in 2015, I reserve the right to include it in my best of 2015 list.
Here are my picks for best fiction:
Outline by Rachel Cusk [Farrar, Straus and Giroux]
–gorgeous writing. purchase at Amazon: Outline: A Novel
Where Women are Kings by Christie Watson [Other Press]
–from my review: Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. Stunning. Entwines race, foster families, adoption, mental illness and cultural differences with exquisite descriptions and phrasing. purchase at Amazon: Where Women Are Kings
The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro [Algonquin]
–from my review: When you think every WWII story has been told, an original narrative comes along and you realize there’s a plethora of war stories remaining to be explored and shared. Abstract expressionist art, French refugees and the WPA collide in this riveting historical fiction novel that focuses on the sudden disappearance of young Jewish-American artist Alizée Benoit. purchase at Amazon: The Muralist: A Novel
Katherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomson [Other Press]
–from my review: Rather haunting and definitely unusual. It’s tough to describe except to say it’s part mystery and part personal exploration. A strange story –in a good way– with gorgeous writing and an intriguing story-line. purchase at Amazon: Katherine Carlyle
The Last September by Nina de Gramont [Algonquin]
–from my review: excellent characters and a dazzling story-line involving mental illness, family, infidelity, relationships, love and murder. purchase at Amazon: The Last September
Migratory Animals by Mary Helen Specht [Harper Perennial]
–engrossing, beautiful and creative novel about a group of 30-somethings finding their place in the world. purchase at Amazon: Migratory Animals: A Novel (P.S.)
Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman [Scribner]
–from my review: Brilliant concept and exquisitely written. This short story collection focuses on intriguing, bold and remarkable women from history. It’s edgy historical fiction. These women lived life as they chose to live it which likely made them misfits and outliers during their lifetimes. purchase at Amazon: Almost Famous Women: Stories by Mayhew Bergman, Megan (2015) Hardcover
The Travels of Daniel Ascher by Déborah Lévy-Bertherat [Other Press]
from my review: Touching, creative, lovely novel. It tells the story of a child of the Holocaust in a unique manner. purchase at Amazon: The Travels of Daniel Ascher
The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North [Blue Rider Press]
–from my review: a fascinating novel about creativity, artists, fitting in and being satisfied with success, fame and how we perceive ourselves and how we want others to understand us. Sophie Stark, who changed her name to suit her persona, is a renowned and elusive filmmaker. She makes enigmatic and often strikingly sad, honest films that strip bare the characters and dig into their psyches. purchase at Amazon: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark
Aquarium by David Vann [Atlantic Monthly Press]
–from my review: This is Vann’s first novel centered on a female protagonist. Twelve-year-old Caitlin lives in Seattle with her dockworker single mother. Older now, Caitlin looks back on this time with the wisdom one gains through age and experience. There’s a lighter tone than previous works until events draw to a boiling point for Caitlin and her mother. Every day after school Caitlin visits the aquarium to study the fish while waiting for her mom to finish work and retrieve her. She finds the various fish and sea life fascinating and allows herself contemplation and solitude. purchase at Amazon: Aquarium
Tightrope by Simon Mawer [Other Press]
-Feminist character Marian Sutro returns from WWII determined to find her place. from my review: Mawer writes exquisitely and Tightrope draws you in to Marian’s life, the consequences of her actions during WWII and how she copes in the present. On the cover, Marian looks like she’s in a Tamara de Lempicka painting. She’d be an ideal subject for the bold artist. Mawer includes cold war fears, atomic bombs, a gay scientist (Marian’s brother) as well as Marian’s love affair with a Russian Jew. purchase at Amazon: Tightrope
A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott [Doubleday]
–from my review: Kate Alcott writes spectacularly strong feminist female characters in historical fiction. Women who want to have careers and love. Women who juggle and manage both. Or learn from their decisions. They’re smart protagonists and Alcott has quickly become a must-read favorite author for me. She intermingles her fictional characters in real-life historical settings and it works. purchase at Amazon: A Touch of Stardust: A Novel
The Green Road By Anne Enright.
W.W. Norton| May 11, 2015| 304 pages | $26.95| ISBN: 978-0-393-24824-0
A perfect novel with imperfect characters that spans decades and continents. Dublin author and Booker prize winner Anne Enright [The Gathering] writes beautifully constructing plausible and faulty characters, of which one wants to read more, know more and become attached. The Green Road is where the family matriarch Rosaleen Madigan enjoys taking long walks. Rosaleen is strong-willed, unyielding and resilient particularly after becoming a widow. In Ardeevin, County Clare, Rosaleen raises four children—two daughters Hanna and Constance and two sons Dan and Emmet. The children move away from their childhood home and live varied lives throughout the world.
Dan becomes a priest but then moves to New York with a fiancée. He carries on a relationship with the handsome Billy lying to himself that he’s gay only for Billy. Enright writes: “Two nights later, at eleven forty-five p.m., Dan the spoilt priest was outside Billy Walker’s door, looking for sex. Again. And sex is what he got.” During the early 90s he’s in the midst of New York’s gay scene at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Later he finally admits he’s gay and marries a man in Canada. Emmet travels the world to aid the impoverished and fulfill his wanderlust. He never has to commit to any one place or one person for long. He travels to war-torn, medically inefficient countries to work to help improve their living conditions. At one point he’s living with a woman in Africa. His relationships are always tenuous and he cares more for his own happiness and the people he’s helping on his various missives than any long-term coupling. Constance remains close to home to raise a family after somewhat settling in marriage. She once considered moving to America but didn’t get on the plane. “Constance still liked Ireland, the way you could talk to anyone. I would not be the same in America, she thought, and tried to remember why she failed to get on the plane.” Hanna gives up her love of theater and the potential for a career when she gets pregnant. These are flawed, struggling children that Enright describes and develops with compassion.
In 2005, Rosaleen summons her children home for one last Christmas as she’s decided to sell the family home. “She had been waiting, all her life, for something that never happened and she could not bear the suspense any longer.” This brings out the inner child in the four siblings and makes for a messy homecoming. Enright writes: “The truth was that the house they were sitting in was worth a ridiculous amount, and the people sitting in it were worth very little. Four children on the brink of middle-age: They had no money. Dan, especially, had no money, and he could not think why that was, or who might be to blame. But he recognised, in the silence the power Rosaleen had over her children, none of whom had grown up to match her.” No one wants the family house sold. No one wants that disruption. Nobody wants the truth. As Rosaleen thinks: “Such selfish children she had reared.”
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from W.W. Norton.
Anne Enright will be reading at Harvard Book Store May 13, 2015 at 7pm.