The basics: Gina recounts both how she fell in love with her ex-husband and how she came to cheat on him with her current husband.
My thoughts: This novel was my first experience with Anne Enright, and her writing enraptured me from the beginning. She has a way with observational detail I adored:
"I end up talking to a woman who is sitting beside a plate of chocolate Rice Krispie cakes and working her way through them in a forgetful sort of way. They have mini-marshmallows on top. She goes to pop one in her mouth, then she pulls back in surprise. 'Ooh, pink!' she says."In such an observational novel, it's difficult to separate Enright's writing from Gina's observation, and I loved both. For the first half of this novel, I was utterly enthralled and bemoaned never having read Enright before. As the novel progressed, however, my adoration became more measured. Gina skillfully articulates her foibles in love, and I enjoyed her perspective and humor. I couldn't help but think, though, that neither man was anywhere near worthy of her. I couldn't understand what led her to marry Conor, and I couldn't fathom why she cheated, even in an unhappy marriage. Neither man came across as particularly charming, intelligent or passionate. I was moved enough by Enright's writing to believe their unlikability was intentional:
"If love was a kind of knowledge then he could not love me, because he hadn't the faintest clue."Despite my lack of adoration for the men, there were still passages that made me want to believe in one of these troubled relationships:
"You can never catch the moment when it happens, but it always does: that split second when awkwardness flowers into intimacy."This novel is filled with adultery and its impact on spouses, siblings, and children. The star of this novel, however, is Enright's writing and perhaps her exploration of theme.
Favorite passage: "I feel that the world might be better it it was run by girls who are nearly twelve, the ability they have to be fully moral and fully venal at the same time."
The verdict: As a story of Gina, I adored it. As a novel, however, the male characters didn't come through for me, and I wished for one of them to shine. Regardless, Enright's writing is top notch, and this slim novel is worth reading.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 244 pages
Publication date: September 26, 2011
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
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