Anne Enright proves, yet again, that she is a writer of immense talent. This novel is set in rural Ireland, in the 1980s and 2000s. We are brought into the lives of the Madigan children It is a work of savage honesty and emotional intensity.
I was hooked from the first page, by the story of the dysfunctional Madigan siblings. Constance, Hannah, Dan and Emmet. The power of the story lies in the recognition we feel in certain aspects of the characters, there were lots of moments when the writing took my breath away, as I could connect what was happening in the narrative with aspects of people I knew.
Enright charts the lives of the children as they emerge to adulthood, forever overshadowed by the forceful, unpredictable personality of their mother. I thought the New York section of the story was very affecting and tenderly portrayed the Gay community in that city. For Enright, the past is not “a foreign country”, as L P Hartley put it, but rather it is alive and well and recognisable in the present, in the learned patterns of relating absorbed in the childhood home. The patterns of childhood are replicated in adult life.
I did not want this book to end and I was left thirsting to find out more about the Madigans, yet knowing that this novel is a work complete in itself. Anne Enright is an Irish writer to be treasured for her talent, her searing honesty and her ability to draw us into a story with the power of her writing. I highly recommend this novel.
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.