Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright

Gina Moynihan tells how she cheated on her husband and embarked on an affair with Sean Vallely, who was also married. The thrill of forbidden passion is masterfully evoked by Irish author Anne Enright. Gina's voice is distinctive and intelligent. I liked her very much, despite her poor impulse control. Here she describes the sensual pleasures of kissing:
     "After the kiss -- the five-minute, ten-minute, two-hour kiss -- the actual sex was a bit too actual, if you know what I mean." (p. 34)
     "Another epic kiss, a wall-slider if there ever was one, I feel like I am clambering out of my own head, that the whole usual mess of myself has been put on the run by it." (p. 69)
     "I think how kissing is such an extravagance of nature. Like bird song; heartfelt and lovely beyond any possible usefulness." (p. 70)

At the crux of this tale is Evie, Sean's young daughter who has epilepsy. In the contemporary Dublin setting, with the wreck of two families mirrors the crash of the Irish economy. I don't know how I managed to choose three novels about marital infidelity in a row, but this is the strongest of the three, thanks to Enright's accomplished prose.

Readalikes for a similar strong voice in a short novel with a contemporary setting: The Spare Room by Helen Garner; Molly Fox's Birthday by Dierdre Madden.

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