THE FORGOTTEN WALTZ by Anne Enright

Book Quote:

“I don’t think I saw the way he was threatened by his own desires, or how jealousy and desire ran so close in him he had to demean a little the thing he wanted. For example, me.

Or not me. It was hard to tell.

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody  (OCT 21, 2011)

Anne Enright, author of the 2007 Booker Prize winner, The Gathering, has written a new novel called The Forgotten Waltz. It is told from the point of view of Gina Moynihan who has a lust-filled affair with a married man, Sean Vallely. They first meet at a garden party hosted by Anne’s sister Fiona, and progresses from there. At first there are innocent (and not so innocent) looks, and then on a business trip in Switzerland, the affair begins in earnest.

When Gina first sees Sean at Fiona’s garden party, she is happily married to Conor. There are no outward signs that there is trouble in the marriage and, as I read this book, I did not see the marriage and any shortcomings as a reason for the affair. Gina saw Sean, felt lust, and let her impulses prevail. Sean is married and has a child named Evie who, at the time that Gina first meets Sean, is four years old.

The novel is not told in any particular linear order. It is related to the reader in fragments of memory that Gina recalls. “So don’t ask me when this happened or that happened. Before or after seems beside the point. As far as I was concerned, they were happening all along.”

Always playing a key role is Evie, Sean’s daughter. When she is five she begins to have childhood seizures that continue for many years. Annette, Sean’s wife, is vigilant about Evie’s medical care and appears not to notice that Sean is otherwise preoccupied with Gina. Evie, however, has the sense that something is happening in her home that is not quite normal. At one point, she even sees Sean and Gina kissing on the stairs of her home.

The novel takes place at the start of Ireland’s economic boom in the nineties and progresses to the depressions that hits later on. As the novel starts, people are making more money than they know what to do with, buying second homes with ocean views and dropping hints about all the money that they have. By the time the novel ends, people are lucky just to have jobs. Their houses have been on the market for a very long time and no one is buying. The market has seen a real depression.

Gina tells the whole story in the first person and we go along with her as she does her best to remember what happened between her and Sean. She strongly believes that Evie is responsible for her and Sean’s love. Evie’s watchful eyes, times of poor health, and perspicacious study of her father and his lover mark an ever-present omen for Gina.

As the affair progresses, Gina finds out that she is not the first person Sean has been unfaithful with. There was a young woman in his office, many years ago, that Sean had courted and loved. Gina is careful not to ask Sean too many questions about this as she wants to see their relationship as special and romantic, which it is, but as life goes, it is not that unique. “Every normal thing he said reminded me that we were not normal. That we were only normal for the twelve foot by fourteen foot of a hotel room. Outside, in the open air, we would evaporate.”

During the course of the affair, Gina deals with the death of her beloved mother, Joan, her estrangement from her sister, Fiona, and the breakdown of her marriage to Conor. She tries to see these events in relationship to the affair but they all have a full life separate from her love for Sean.

It takes Sean a long time to leave his wife, time that Gina waits for him in agony and pain. She had hoped they’d be together by Christmas but as April comes around, Sean is just beginning to move into Gina’s home. “It was delicate business, being the Not Wife.”

The affair takes on a triangular pattern – Sean, Gina and Evie. “I said it to Sean once – I said, if it had not been for Evie, we would not be together – and he looked at me as if I had blasphemed.” “As far as he is concerned, there is no cause; he arrived in my life as though lifted and pushed by a swell of the sea.”

The book is filled with musical metaphors and reads poetically. Enright is a master of the inner mind and our deepest thoughts. She not only tells a story but she captures lives, sparing no moment, no movement and no detail. Nothing is too small for her to notice and reflect on. In fact, it is the small things that make up the big deeds that change our lives from one second to the next.

AMAZON READER RATING: from 27 readers
PUBLISHER: W. W. Norton & Company (October 3, 2011)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK? YES! Start Reading Now!
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Wikipedia page on Anne Enright
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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October 21, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Ireland, Literary, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

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