The Green Road

IMG_1954It’s Man Booker Prize longlist time and The Green Road is my first official read from the 13 books.  Technically I attempted to read A Little Life a few months ago.  I got to page 200 and got side tracked by other books and life and quit reading it.  This is what can happen when I read more than one book at a time and when a story isn’t grabbing me.  No worries I’ll surely get back to it eventually.

I was away in the south of France with no internet and poor network connection for my smart phone so of course that allowed me to fully concentrate on reading.  And boy did I read.  I read four books in a week.  That’s a record for me.  You’ll hear about what I read in another post.  I’m back today to talk to you about what I thought of The Green Road by Anne Enright.

The story is split up into two parts.  The first part is composed of five view points from the Madigan family – from the children, Dan, Emmet, Constance, Hanna, and the last viewpoint is from the mother, Rosaleen.  Part one is called Leaving and part two is called Coming Home.

Part two is a series of episodes that tie up or make clear how each person fits into the Madigan family.  “This is how they knew each other, the Madigans, they knew the timber of a voice, the rhythm of fingers tapping on a tabletop, and they didn’t know each other at all.  Not really.  But they liked each other well enough. Apparently.” ‘The Green Road, p. 254)  Each point of view in Part one is told from the third person, making the characters difficult to care about.  Not to mention their voices don’t show enough of who they are individually, much less how they fit together in the family.  I think I would have preferred their points of view to be told in first person to really get into their heads.  In spite of this, Enright does paint an intricate picture of family.  She writes those touches of language that make The Green Road a type of classic tale of an Irish family, while at the same time trying to give the Madigan family specificities.

The structure of the novel is what it has going for it.  The writing is good, but not brilliant and the reader must piece together the family story.  That seems to be a metaphor for this family’s lack of togetherness.  The family is in pieces in the same deconstructed manner of the storytelling.  As we meet each member we are trying to figure out what’s gone wrong and why.  That is the difficulty of the book, which may put some readers off.  Through each section the reader is bombarded with a lot of information about that family member and themes from alcoholism, homosexuality, illness, etc.  We learn about each family member at different time periods and their relationships to their husbands, children, girlfriends, etc..  I believe Enright complicated the story of the Madigans, henceforth rendering it uninteresting.  Moreover, I would be very surprised if this novel makes it on to the shortlist.  I didn’t give a  hoot about any of the people I was reading about and the ending fizzled out into something that seemed to be thrown together to round the story off to a complete finish, making for a really dry ending.  I’ll be extremely surprised if The Green Road makes it further.  I’m not sad that I read it because now I’m interested in picking up The Gathering, for which Enright won the 2007 Man Booker prize. Hoping that I’ll enjoy that one more.  I’d like to see what a winner from her is really like.

It seems that there is a strong theme around family in this year’s Man Booker 2015 longlist.  I still have 2 others that treat the subject of family left to read on my wish list – Did You Ever Have a Family and A Spool of Blue Thread (unfortunately I hear this one is uneventful)  I won’t be reading the entire longlist because there are some I’m not interested in at all.  I hope they will be more interesting than The Green Road.   .  Could it be for The Green Road that I’ve missed some extremely important Irish references?  Possibly.  So have you read anything from the Man Booker 2015 longest?  If so what?  Have you read The Green Road?  What did you think of it?