The Forgotten Waltz
By Anne Enright
Completed May 11, 2012
Had The Forgotten Waltz not been nominated for the 2012 Orange Prize, I probably wouldn’t have read it. When I read The Gathering by Anne Enright, I found it to be such a bleak novel; I was not in a hurry to read something by Enright again. Thankfully, The Forgotten Waltz was a better reading experience.
At the core of this novel is an examination of modern marriage. Gina is newly married when she meets one of her sister’s neighbors, Sean. Over time, Gina and Sean begin to have an affair. When Gina’s mom died suddenly, Sean and Gina become little less careful about their secret, and eventually, they must make decisions about their marriages and their own relationship.
Sean has a daughter, Evie, who experienced unexplained seizures as a child, leaving Sean’s wife, Aileen, overprotective and nervous. Enright does a commendable job showing the strains an unhealthy child can have on a marriage. Furthermore, Enright taps into the difficulties of becoming involved with a person who has a child. As the story progresses, Gina realizes that she will always be second to Evie’s needs. She must decide if she can live with that.
Gina is an interesting character. If I knew her in real life, I would have to plan an intervention. She is fallible and borderline delusional about her relationships – not only with Sean, but with her husband, sister and deceased parents. She reaches for cigarettes and alcohol a lot, but what she really needs is a good therapist.
All in all, The Forgotten Waltz was a solid read that explored relationships, love and marriage. It just goes to show you: sometimes you can’t judge an author by just one book. ( )