The Forgotten Waltz

Enright, Anne

(Book - 2011)
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
The Forgotten Waltz
In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, it has snowed. Gina Moynihan, girl about town, recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for "the love of her life," Seán Vallely. As the city outside comes to a halt, Gina remembers their affair: long afternoons made blank by bliss and denial. Now, as the silent streets and falling snow make the day luminous and full of possibility, Gina awaits the arrival of Seán's fragile, twelve-year-old daughter, Evie-the complication, and gravity, of this second life.In this extraordinary novel, Anne Enright speaks directly to the readers she won with The Gathering. Here again is the momentous drama of everyday life; the volatile connections between people; the wry, accurate take on families, marriage, and brittle middle age. With The Forgotten Waltz Enright turns her attention to love, following another unforgettable heroine on a journey of the heart. Writing at the height of her powers, this is Enright's tour de force, a novel of intelligence, passion, and distinction.
Publisher: New York : W. W. Norton & Co., 2011
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 039307255X
Branch Call Number: F Enr


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This is an odd little novel, but not without a certain allure. It tells the story of Gina, a middle-class Irish professional who leaves a loving husband to carry on an affair with the married Sean, another middle-class professional she meets through work. Gina and Sean and their circle of family and friends are utterly ordinary and not glamorous in any way, which is part of the novel's originality. It doesn't conform to any expectations we may have about the subject of extramarital affairs. There's no highstrung drama, stormy confrontations, or obsessive behavior. There's only ordinary people being attracted to each other without knowing why, and an ever-present sense of the essential mystery at the core of every relationship and indeed, every individual. Gina is not a know-it-all narrator who reveals to the reader in perfectly composed paragraphs everything about her motivations. Instead the novel reads like extracts from her journal, introspective reflections and ruminations that leave much unsaid and unexplained. Particularly powerful is how Gina experiences the constant insecurity of being the other woman, an insecurity about where and how she fits into her paramour's life. Towards the end of the novel the writing focuses on Evie, Sean's only child who suffered epilepsy when she was younger. Here the writing beautifully captures Gina's confused feelings toward Evie, alternating between annoyance, jealousy, and even love. I think "The Forgotten Waltz" is only nominally about an ordinary woman having an affair with an undistinguished married man. Its originality is in how it renders the interior life and memories of a woman baffled by her own behavior yet acutely attuned to her feelings.

Dec 16, 2014
  • KindianaJones rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Wow! I tore through this book at lightning speed. I'd never read Anne Enright before and wasn't sure what to expect -- it didn't sound like this book was about much, and it's not. The plot is basic: an affair through the eyes of the other woman. The characters are amazingly well-drawn. I loved the way that Enright used the first person narrative. Gina tells us the story from her point of view and examines her own role in the affair; she tells us what her flaws are. At the same time, she gives us little vignettes describing the affair and we see parts of her character that she doesn't describe and, likely, denies are even there. It's a beautiful trick -- 4.5 stars.

Nov 05, 2012
  • DanglingConversations rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

This novel was truly forgettable, self absorbed and mundane. I wonder what unique insight the author was trying to offer the readers, or what aesthetic resonance she was aiming to achieve? Nor, having no cultural connection to Ireland or its people, did I acquired any sympathy for the bursting of the economic bubble which is part of the background of the story. It is worth a quick read but don’t look for too much comfort in the plot or the art.

2012 winner of the Andrew Carnegie Award for excellence in literature

Aug 02, 2012
  • snkattk rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

a nice, subtle read about the emotions and self absorbtions that lead one to infidelity and, in my observation, accepting the mundane brings satisfaction. Insightful observations of unlikeable, but real characters, and what true love, that of Sean for Evie) looks like.

Jun 05, 2012
  • geezr_rdr rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

A confusing style that is not amusing or enlightening and prevents one from wanting to dig into this uninteresting story. A book that deserves speed reading at best.

May 13, 2012
  • mokrosa rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Anne Enright is a beautiful writer; I'd read anything she wrote. Though The Gathering's story captured my interest more than this book, I enjoyed her fluid, insightful writing.

May 05, 2012
  • mclarjh rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A breezy easily read book. Thank goodness, as none of the characters interested me, What was the point of writing it, I wonder.

Shortlisted for the 2012 Orange Prize.

May 01, 2012
  • uncommonreader rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book is the story of an affair, set in contemporary Ireland. It was quite funny. I liked the main character - she was sophisticated and knew herself.

Feb 05, 2012
  • brianreynolds rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Voice is a somewhat nebulous characteristic of print. In both of Enright's novels it is audible; it is the Midas touch that adds luster to every page. In The Forgotten Waltz it elevates a somewhat ordinary story of love and choice, responsibility and passion to something fresh and gives it a significance beyond the music of her prose. Told largely as a flashback that recreates her affair with a married man, Gina Moynihan leads the reader through the (snow) storm of her emotions to the almost brutal reality of the collateral damage she has wrought. It is hard not to love her, impossible not to feel her pain. This is a short book that could be gobbled in a few big bites; it deserves to be savoured.

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