A couple of weeks ago my Fiancée and I went to a local Tapas restaurant, we’d been given a voucher by a neighbour for rescuing their cat from being savaged by dogs in the wee small hours of a Saturday morning a couple of weeks previously. The cat subsequently died en route to a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital. Anyway back to the Tapas restaurant, my Fiancée doesn’t get Tapas, as opposed to ordinary restaurants where you read the menu and order a dish for starters, main course and desert. Whereas in Tapas it’s basically order small dishes from all over the menu as often as you want until you feel full. Me I was brought up by a father who told me to go through life with an open mind and equally broad palate. My Fiancée on the other hand will never get Tapas and that’s fine, because that brings me to this month’s book. It’s The Green Road by Anne Enright.
Anne is a local author, well she was until recently, when she moved from Bray further into south County Dublin. Like my fiancée and Tapas, I’ve never liked Anne’s work and probably never will. It may come down to the fact, that I believe there is a lot to being Irelands Inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction then winning The Booker. There are bigger and better Irish writers out there who’ve never won an award and are more deserving of this title – One swallow does not a summer make.
The book deals with emigration and the family and how it grows apart as time goes by. Rosaleen Madigan is an elderly woman living on the west coast of Ireland, her four kids have all flown the nest and made new lives for themselves, some far beyond these shores. One day she decides she’s going to sell the family home and divide the proceeds. The brood are summoned home for one last Christmas, which leads to their various idealologies and ego’s competing for attention in this confined space. Then amidst this fractious atmosphere Rosaleen goes missing. Will they find in her in time, out there in this barren and unforgiving countryside on a stormy Christmas day? Will the children pull together in this crisis?
The Green Road isn’t a great book it’s an okay book, it reminded me of most of the middle of the road American drama’s you see on Hallmark TV, set in the Midwest about family’s gathering for thanksgiving. It’s people coming from far and wide to spend one day in each others company. We don’t like it, we do it because its tradition and we hope it’ll be all happy families, it’s usually a very poor attempt. That’s mainly down to the pressure to live up to the images presented on TV, magazines and newspapers. Just like that, this story is a well worn one and it’s been done on film and TV much better, the characters are stereotypical , there’s a gay member of the family, a brother who is trying to find himself by doing charity work in Africa and a sister who does everything for everyone but never gets any thanks .
I may have read all the way through the book, that doesn’t mean I liked it, I only it finished because she is or was a local author and I felt I should give her the benefit of the doubt. Hah! It was a waste of time; I could’ve easily thrown it down after the first couple of pages if I didn’t know her. The start is laborious and even though it picks up pace slightly midway, the ending is predictable.
This is Dublin born Enright’s ninth book of fiction, published in 2015 by Jonathan Cape. The others include My Portable Virgin, The Wig My Father Wore, The Gathering and Taking Pictures, as well as a collection of short stories called Yesterdays Weather and a book of non-fiction called Making Babies; you can guess what that’s about.
So take my advice, give The Green Road a miss. Take an alternative route to your literary enjoyment. Maybe even see if she can make a better effort on writing about motherhood. Better still go for Tapas.