Literary Fiction

Daily Mail (London), May 8, 2015 | Go to article overview

Literary Fiction


Byline: STEPHANIE CROSS

THE GREEN ROAD by Anne Enright (Cape PS17.99) AT THE heart of Booker Prize-winner Enright's magnificent sixth novel is a simple truth: we never outgrow our families, however much we might long to have done with them.

Certainly, the children of querulous, aggrieved Rosaleen Madigan have tried hard to distance themselves from their County Clare upbringing one son ending up as an African aid worker and the other, after an early flirtation with the priesthood, in a same-sex relationship in New York's artsy East Village.

Meanwhile, daughters Constance and Hanna are embroiled in their own family struggles, the former facing a health crisis and the latter battling post-natal depression and alcoholism.

None of which may sound like a barrel of laughs and pathos abounds in The Green Road yet it's anything but dour.

The plot, such as it is, comes courtesy of a festive family get-together, but it's Enright's ability to capture with such wit and exactitude the multi-faceted, manytextured realities of her characters' lives that keeps the pages turning.

For all their eccentricities, the Madigans are very much an everyfamily, and to be immersed in their endlessly complex existences is often to have a light shone on one's own.

AT HAWTHORN TIME by Melissa Harrison (Bloomsbury PS14.99) HAVING escaped to the country, Londoners Howard and artist Kitty are living the rural dream. Or rather Kitty is, throwing herself into the country life she struggles to capture on canvas.

Retired roadie and radio restorer Howard is more ambivalent. As a family reunion looms, cracks begin to show.

Elsewhere in the hamlet of Lodeshill, a young man dreams of escape as he works shifts in a warehouse, while a peripatetic former eco-warrior unnerves the locals as he arrives to pick asparagus separate lives, but ones that are all on a devastating, and literal, collision course. …

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