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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Forgotten Waltz

The Forgotten Waltz
Anne Enright
Norton, 2011

Gina is 32 years old and married to a sweet if slightly clueless husband. No doubt she is bored with her life when she meets the older and also married Sean at a party, or maybe she is just caught unaware in the immediate attraction she feels for him. Through a series of events she carefully orchestrates, she and Sean have an affair that eventually causes both their marriages to fail, even though by the end of the novel, Sean is just separated from his wife and hasn’t fully committed himself either way. Evie is Sean’s preadolescent daughter who figures prominently in the story – both because of the strange relationship she and her father have as well as her basic oddness that distances herself from others, especially Gina.

The setting is contemporary Ireland. Gina tells the story of her affair during a rare snowstorm during which she is stuck at home, which is now the former house of her mother. Because of the dire economic situation, the house hasn’t sold, but during most of the affair, the money flowed freely and may have caused some of Sean’s reluctance to leave his wife since he could have lost much of his net worth. Now that things have spiraled downward, however, he seems more willing to talk about their future, which, of course, must include Evie. This quiet, contemplative book moves back and forth through time quite a bit, much like a person’s thoughts as they reminisce about the past. The writing is memorable; it has a lyrical and melancholy style that is absolutely beautiful..

I wish I could have warmed up more to this novel. I had trouble identifying with Gina or caring very much about the circumstances of her affair. I admired the writing style and found myself rereading several sentences just to enjoy them a second time, but this did not redeem the novel for me. The child was portrayed so strangely that I kept expecting her to do something sinister to sabotage the lovers, but nothing ever really happened. As usual, all the reviewers absolutely loved this novel, but I was mostly lukewarm about it.


Other novels by this author:
What Are You Like (2000)
The Gathering (2006)

Other titles you may enjoy:

A Small Hotel by Robert Olen Butler (2011)
A tale set in reverse chronicles the failing marriage of New Orleans residents Michael and Kelly Hayes, who, on the day their divorce becomes final, revisit their shared history to evaluate the insecurities and inabilities that have driven them apart.

The Sea by John Banville (2005)
Following the death of his wife, Max Morden retreats to the seaside town of his childhood summers, where his own life becomes inextricably entwined with the members of the vacationing Grace family.
The Love of My Youth by Mary Gordon (2011)

The Love of My Youth by Mary Gordon (2011)
Having not seen each other for more than 40 years, Miranda and Adam unexpectedly reunite in Rome--where they once spent a summer deeply in love--and agree to spend the Italian afternoons taking walks together, experiencing the city, bringing each other up to date--and reviewing the betrayal that drove them.

1 comment:

  1. Because this is set in Ireland, and because of the style of writing - I may give this book a try. But if it doesn't grab me in the first 50-100 pages, I toss it aside!