The Green Road

Anne Enright, 2015

The Green Road is a book of characters and insights rather than plot.

This is the story of the Madigans – mother Rosaleen, daughters Constance and Hanna, and sons Dan and Emmet.  All four adult children are summoned home from locations near and far by Rosaleen when she decides to sell the family home.  As Enright allows the Madigans to speak in turn, the reader gains insight into the love, fear, and need that drives each of them.  In the course of each character’s narrative, we can also see how every other family member’s inner motivations manifest in the eyes of the current speaker.

Anne Enright speaks authentically in the voice of a mother of grown children, a child (later an alcoholic actress with a child of her own), a gay man, an international aid worker, and a responsible, guilt-ridden oldest daughter.  Plot does exist,  but only to provide a framework in which characters and relationships reveal themselves.  The author has created a thoughtful exploration of family dynamics, with the occasional passage that moves me to tears, rings with truth that transcends the story, or provides laser focus into my own motivations.

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