The Forgotten Waltz

Anne Enright

First Sentence:    If it hadn’t been for the child then none of this might have happened, but the fact that a child was involved made everything that much harder to forgive.

Anne Enright won the Booker prize in 2007 with The Gathering, a book I found myself enjoying a lot more than I thought I would. In that book there was a lot about families and a lot about death. In this book there is a lot about families and a lot about death. But also a lot about love and a lot about sex. And why not? It seems to work quite well for Enright, this family obsession. Gina Moynihan is a not unattractive girl who grew up in Terenure, Dublin. Now in her thirties she is looking back on an extra marital affair with Sean Vallely, a man who ended up being the love of her life. Or so she thinks.  There is a lot to enjoy in this book and the writing is exquisite throughout. It seems a little strange that it was overlooked for this year’s Booker but really, that is irrelevant. This book stands on its own and will be read for many years to come, regardless of what awards it receives. It is a very fine snapshot of Dublin middle class life in the first decade of the twenty-first century and deserves to find a wider audience…

* * * *

Last Sentence:     ‘It was you.’

Last Sentence explained:   Plotwise the story ends when Gina is walking along with Evie, Sean’s daughter. Gina is trying to explain how Evie’s parents were probably going to separate anyway, and her father would have had an affair with someone else, if not her. To which Evie replies, “It was you”. The story itself meanders however, and we are constantly jumping backwards and forwards in time, a technique Enright deploys with assured ease. It is the writing, and not the plot, which is to be most admired here. This is the type of book where you could just read a single chapter on its own, completely at random, and feel the rewards immediately. Great stuff…

Quotes from the book:

” I can’t remember what this did to the love we were supposed to be in.”

” I did not feel guilty, that afternoon in Gstaad,  I felt suicidal. Or the flip side of suicidal: I felt like I had killed my life, and no one was dead. On the contrary, we were all twice as alive.”

“They have a house like a child’s drawing of a house; sweet and square.”


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