The Forgotten Waltz is a book that could really turn some people off. Anne Enright’s tale of a married woman falling in love with a married man and then journeying on an affair together is sure to divide audiences. What Enright does here is create, despite the morbidity of it, a modern day love story. We learn that love isn’t predictable and occurs against our will.
Gina, our central character, is just a regular lady moving through her life. According to her, she is incredibly happy in her life with her Husband. This doesn’t stop her from falling in love with a friend of her Sister, Sean (the married man). This is perhaps the first moment when a reader would get their hackles up with Enright’s tale.
The concept of an affair is something that breaks many families and many people can relate to the fallout of this situation, particularly when we are introduced to Sean’s Daughter, Evie. This girl, who grows throughout the plot, becomes the force within the book. Everything in the latter half, in fact, revolves around her and Gina’s relationship with this young girl.
What Enright does superbly is craft a snapshot of modern life. We may not like what we see, but it happens every day. Gina is a broken woman with little confidence in herself and her life, her narration is honest and heartfelt. She’s a character that, if you can get past her actions, becomes somebody to love.
If only this could be said about her opposite, Sean, who lives his life as a very unlikeable man who rarely allows either Gina or the reader past his barriers. His love for his Daughter is perhaps his only moment of humanity. This, of course, heightens the tension in the tale as we wonder what Gina sees in this man.
When Enright isn’t breaking families apart with her brilliant use of English, she is depicting Dublin with an almost poetical, lyrical prose. The romanticism of the plot oozes into the environment seamlessly and what grows is the perfect backdrop to such a story. Both the country and the suburbs are treated with care and only when things are troubled do the surroundings become windswept and miserable.
If we push past the talent with which Anne Enright puts pen to paper, we have a novel that tells a wonderfully romantic story. However, there seems to be something missing. By the end of the book, this reader felt as if he wanted more. It’s a short book that captures the scene beautifully, but it’s a book that could have been extended slightly to flesh out the outcome of our heroine and all that came before.
Ultimately, Anne Enright’s latest work is a beautifully sculpted and romantic work of modern fiction depicting modern life. The former Booker prize winner has created a book that will divide readers’ opinions, but you can’t argue that she is in wonderful form with her writing. Will we see The Forgotten Waltz longlisted for Booker this year? I’d be surprised otherwise.
The Forgotten Waltz is available now