I really enjoyed The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright. I haven’t read her earlier book The Gathering, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2007, but I picked up The Forgotten Waltz at BEA – in part because I loved the cover and in part because I liked the premise. It’s about Gina, a woman in her 30s in Dublin, who has left her husband for Sean, a man that she has been having an affair with. The book is mostly a reflection back on how she got involved with Sean, their imperfect relationship, and his imperfect daughter.
I liked the writing in The Forgotten Waltz. The story is not told in a linear fashion, but moves from the past to the present and back to the past in a circuitous but not unnatural way. Gina and Sean’s love is messy – he is full of flaws and her life after ending up with him is in many ways difficult and lonely. But Gina loves Sean – this is clear throughout the book – and their situation is ultimately realistic. No Hollywood endings here.
I liked that Gina was flawed – selfish and impulsive, and I liked that I didn’t always know where the book was going.
Enright used the backdrop of the collapse of the financial markets to inflict a general malaise on the characters, which also heightens the sense of imprisonment that many of them feel. This is a gloomy book in many ways, but the writing really redeemed it for me.
I just looked at reviews of The Forgotten Waltz on Goodreads and was surprised to see how mixed they are. Like me, some people fell in love with the writing and really liked the book. Others took issue with Gina’s choices and need to rationalize, or didn’t care about the outcome.
For me, this was a very satisfying read. I am going to look into The Gathering as well.