2015 Man Booker Longlist: The Green Road by Anne Enright
Next up in our attempt to complete the 2015 Man Booker Longlist is a book we both read: The Green Road by Anne Enright. Keep reading to find out what we thought and how it ranks in our list of 2015 longlist books read to date.
The Green Road by Anne Enright
Reviewed by: Jen & Book Worm
Find it here: The Green Road
Synopsis (from Amazon): 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.
Book Worm’s Review
I enjoyed the story but I just can’t give high marks for originality when the book is an Irish family saga (a genre I really enjoy, however, especially the tear jerkers from Maeve Binchy). Even the situations the family members find themselves in are not unique.
The characters are well written and feel like real people with real issues and the drama is subtle rather than melodramatic. I liked the switches in narrative perspective, but again this is not an original style.
Available in English 1 / 1
Published in the UK 1 / 1
Originality 2 / 8
Character Complexity 5 / 5
Writing Quality 4 / 5
Jen’s Review: The Green Road is a novel about an Irish family that is told from the perspective of alternating family members. It starts off in the 1980s when the family is all living together in Ireland and the children are little. The book then leaps ahead to the 1990s and 2000s with each chapter showing us how things turned out for the siblings in adulthood. Dan is living in New York at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Emmett has spent years of his life volunteering in Africa, Hanna is an actress in Dublin, and Constance is the only child who remained geographically close to her mother. I’ll spare you the details of what has become of each family member so you can discover them for yourself.
Some chapters were much more engaging than others. I found Dan’s portions to be much more interesting than Hanna’s chapters (which read as somewhat cliché). In many ways, the book reads more like a collection of short stories than it does like a novel, although the threads all come together at the end of the book.
I have to agree with Book Worm on her rating and I will provide similar ratings. While Book Worm has read three Longlist books, this was my first. Having read it with the perspective of judging what are supposed to be the best books of 2015, I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad book and you should read it. I enjoyed it, breezed through it, and was generally engaged. It reminded me slightly of Carol Shield’s Stone Diaries (a 1993 Booker Nominee)– a fact that ultimately works against The Green Road because I truly loved Stone Diaries and thought it was the superior book in many ways.
My main gripe with the book being included in the longlist was the same one that Book Worm mentioned: originality. This is a story that’s been told so many times before and while Enright is a skilled story-teller, I didn’t feel like there was anything terribly new or dazzling about her approach. At times it felt a little cliché — mentions of alcoholism, priesthood, etc. I liked it in the moment, but it does not stand out as something that will leave a lasting impression on me in the same way as did books like Franzen’s Freedom and Shield’s Stone Diaries. Here is my rating:
Available in English 1/1
Published in the UK 1/1
Character Complexity 4/5 (some characters were more well developed than others who felt more like caricatures).
Writing Quality 4/5
Want to try it for yourself? You can find it here: The Green Road
We want to hear from you. Have you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t read it yet, do you plan to read it
I’m now moving on to A Little Life and Book Worm will be reading The Illuminations for our next books. Stay tuned!
Our combined rankings of books we have read thus far.
- Lila (15/20 by Book Worm)
- Satin Island (13/20 by Book Worm) & The Green Road (13/20 by Jen & Book Worm)