Friday, May 6, 2016

The Green Road by Anne Enright

Enright's The Green Road features Rosaleen Madigan is an Irish wife and mother who attempts to control her family, husband and four children, with histrionics and melodrama. So in 1980, when oldest son Dan announces his intention to study for the priesthood, his mother starts to cry during Sunday dinner and, after dinner, takes to her bed for days. The family carries on, the burden of running the household falling on the oldest daughter, Constance. Eventually Rosaleen emerges from her bedroom and ordinary life resumes.

Decades later, Rosaleen is a widow and her children have left home. Dan, who did not become a priest, lives in North America and is involved in the art world and the gay community. His brother Evan has gone in an entirely different direction, providing medical care to poor people in Africa. Youngest daughter Hanna has gone into acting and only Constance remains near the family home, following the traditional Irish path of wife and mother. Feeling lonely, neglected and incapable of maintaining her property, Rosaleen decides she will sell her old house and live in something more modern. She summons her children home for Christmas and they dutifully obey. But the Christmas conversation devolves into arguments and injured feelings. Once again Rosaleen responds melodramatically, disappearing into the Irish countryside on a cold winter night. It is a pattern which will repeat itself again. Rosaleen may not get what she wants but she will be the center of attention.