The Green Road
May 2015 Indie Next List
— Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA
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Longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize.
From internationally acclaimed author Anne Enright comes a shattering novel set in a small town on Ireland's Atlantic coast. The Green Road is a tale of family and fracture, compassion and selfishness—a book about the gaps in the human heart and how we strive to fill them.
Spanning thirty years, The Green Road tells the story of Rosaleen, matriarch of the Madigans, a family on the cusp of either coming together or falling irreparably apart. As they grow up, Rosaleen's four children leave the west of Ireland for lives they could have never imagined in Dublin, New York, and Mali, West Africa. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she’s decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for a last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold.
A profoundly moving work about a family's desperate attempt to recover the relationships they've lost and forge the ones they never had, The Green Road is Enright's most mature, accomplished, and unforgettable novel to date.
Praise For The Green Road: A Novel…
— James Wood - The New Yorker
With language so vibrant it practically has a pulse, Enright makes an exquisitely drawn case for the possibility of growth, love and transformation at any age.
Impressive…Enright writes with authority and confidence…Though stories end, The Green Road seems to say, the lives of the people who inhabit them go on.
— David Leavitt - The New York Times Book Review
Enright…is a master of emotional excavation. …Through her wise and majestic book, [she] shows us the beauty even in life’s harsh terrain.
— Karen E. Bender - O Magazine
A rich, capacious story, buoyed by tender humor…. The Green Road…offers a survey of Enright’s magnificent dexterity…. There’s nothing she can’t do with perspective, tone and time.
— Ron Charles - Washington Post
A book of brawny prose sheathed in cool intelligence.
— The Economist
Enright, newly crowned as the first Irish Fiction Laureate, has her own distinctive voice. She is witty, sharp, profound, perceptive and often very funny as she slyly undercuts her characters’ self-deceptions.
— Sue Gaisford - Financial Times
This looping story of four siblings coping differently with the smothering embrace of their amusingly melodramatic mother…may be even better than its close cousin, The Gathering, which won the 2007 Booker prize. As locales shift from a stubby Irish village to AIDS-ravaged gay Manhattan and famine-torn Mali, so do the tone and point of view, over which Enright exercises perfect control.
— Boris Kachka - New York Magazine
— Vanity Fair
Hugely readable…. The Green Road should confirm Enright’s status as one of our greatest living novelists.
— John Sutherland - The Times (UK)
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393248210, 304pp.
Publication Date: May 11, 2015
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
All of the children move out of Rosaleen’s orbit and
establish their own lives elsewhere. How does their
homecoming affect them?
Rosaleen writes distinct Christmas cards to each of her
children. What does her card to each child tell you about
their relationship? What do the cards tell you about her?
After Dan announces his decision to become a priest, Rosaleen says, “I
made him. I made him the way he is. And I don’t like the way he is. He
is my son and I don’t like him, and he doesn’t like me either” (page 34).
What role does dislike play in her relationship with Dan?
Enright writes, “Emmet . . . was drawn to suffering—it was, after all,
his job” (page106). Is his interest in suffering heroic or self-absorbed?
Dan, Hanna, Constance, and Emmet all have aspects of their private
lives that they do not share with one another. What do they hide from
one another, and why?
Emmet is described as not having “the helplessness in him that love
required” (page 249). From Dan during the AIDS crisis in New York to
Rosaleen on the green road, how are helplessness and love portrayed
as related in the novel?
Toward the end of the novel, Enright describes Rosaleen on the green
road: “there were gaps between things, and this frightened her. This
is where Rosaleen was now. She had fallen into the gap” (page 266).
What does this “gap” mean for Rosaleen and her relationship with the
Pat Madigan is largely absent throughout the narrative. How does his
absence shape the novel?
Anne Enright has said that a major theme of The Green Road
is compassion. How do members of the Madigan family show
compassion to one another?
Of Rosaleen, Enright writes, “her life was one of great harmlessness”
(page 149). Do you agree?
The house in County Clare is the most prominent home in the
novel. How have Rosaleen’s children chased, established, or resisted
establishing their own homes?