Tuesday, July 3, 2012
The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
Be careful of what you want for you might get it.
This is the story of Gina Moynihan and Sean Vallely, residents of modern day booming Dublin, who are married to other people, but see each other sexually, until things come to a head and they end up living together. (But do they?) It’s also about Sean’s upsettingly concrete epileptic daughter Evie and how she cannot be willed away. Gina is the first person narrator, with a unique voice; casual and comic and unsentimental and cutting like a diamond. Although Gina is blind about a few things – herself, for starters, and the true nature of her boyfriend.
A few pages in, I thought oh dear; this will be dull if it’s just her going on about the man. Will the stakes be high enough? But in a short while, I got it – this novel starts off by being about adultery, but the adultery is merely the light to see things more clearly; that is, modern Irish society, the family, marriage, children, promises. The book examines people’s capacity for self deception, hubris, greed and the consumerist lifestyle. It’s one long story of beautiful excuses.
This not about the Ireland of culchies and lambing but of high powered European consumerism, although there remains quite a bit of drunkenness. Somewhere in the middle of the book, the Irish real estate bubble pops, and the characters are left with houses they can’t sell and loans they can’t pay back. The question might be, what’s it all worth anyway?