May Book of the Month: The Green Road


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A family is a strange microcosm, a small society all of its own, somehow all encompassing yet entirely specific and separate. Author Anne Enright has become the ultimate observer of family, able to examine the push-pull currents between parents and children and the endless joys and miseries within.

The Green Road, like her Booker Prize winning novel The Gathering, follows a family's various paths from the 1980s to the present day. The first half of the book has chapters for each of the four children scattered across the globe, dealing with their individual hopes and disappointments. The second half brings them all back to Ireland for a Christmas reunion, where the old childhood gripes and stereotypes reassert themselves as if no-one had ever grown up or gone away. It is, as one sibling remarks, 'like living in a hole'. Tensions increase further when the manipulative matriarch, Rosaleen, announces the sale of the family home. Enright is brilliant at conjuring unexpected adjectives, or the exact emotion; one son's sudden need for his mother like 'a whiteness in his chest'. Her writing is unsentimental, lyrical, eloquent aand often very funny. 

Her sentences are deeply enjoyable just on their own, as perfect little gems. The final part of this book encapsulates everything that Enright does with such apparent effortlessness: sadness shot through with great comedy and hard-earned wisdom. Winner of the Irish Novel of the Year 2015, The Green Road was also longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa Award and is currently on the shortlist for the Baileys Prize (announced 8 June 2016). We'll keep our fingers crossed...

What the critics said

"The writing at the level of the sentence is so sharp and good it captures, as lightly and deftly as you could wish, the internal cadences of the person being written about. Enright has been paying attention: and this, it turns out, is what the novel has been encouraging us to do all along." Nicolas Lezard (The Guardian)

"[This book] confirms her as one of the most significant writers of her generation... A master. She has certainly produced a masterly work." (Sunday Times)

What Mumsnetters said

"I wasn't just pleasantly surprised; I really felt that Enright is a Great Writer. Her genius is so underestimated." Sakura

"I love Enright's language and tone and lost myself in this book completely." freelancescientist


About the author

Anne Enright was born in Dublin in 1962. After studying creative writing at UEA, she worked as a TV producer and director in Ireland. She has published three volumes of stories, one book of non-fiction, and five novels. In 2015, she was named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction. Her novel The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize. She is married to the actor Martin Murphy, and lives in Dublin.

Webchat with Anne Enright

We are thrilled and delighted that Anne will be joining us to answer your questions about The Green Road, all her previous award-winning novels, and her stellar career on Wednesday 25 May, 9-10pm. Please feel free to talk about the book on the discussion thread throughout the month and then come and talk to Anne on the night, and ask her a question or simply tell her what you think of her books.

Book giveaway: The Green Road

Vintage has 50 copies of The Green Road to give to Mumsnetters. To claim your free copy, please fill in your details below. We'll post on the discussion thread when all the copies have gone. If you're not lucky enough to bag one of those, you can always get a Kindle edition or paperback copy here.

This giveaway closes Monday 25 April, so apply now!


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Last updated: 5 months ago