ORANGE PRIZE LONGLIST TITLE
WW Norton & Co., 2012, Fiction, 272 pp., Purchased – Kindle.
“The next few days were full of shouting. Much cliché. It seemed that everything was said. I mean everything, by everybody. The whole thing felt like a single sentence; one you could imagine bellowed, hissed, scrawled in lipstick on the bathroom mirror; you could carve it into your own flesh, you could chisel it on a fucking gravestone. And not one word of it mattered. Not one stupid word.
– The Forgotten Waltz
Oh, lordy lordy. If things keep going at this rate I’ll never shorten the list of candidates. Longlisters, stop writing so damn well. THAT IS AN ORDER.
Seriously, I should have known Anne Enright would smack my gob, because: one: she’s Irish and two: I was among the select few who thought her Booker winner – The Gathering – was superb. The lowest-selling Booker Prize winning novel of all time and I lurved it, dear reader.
The Forgotten Waltz, another – in my opinion – unjustifiably underappreciated, fine novel, is so very well described in this bit from Elle I’ll steal it:
“A new, unapologetic kind of adultery novel. Narrated by the proverbial other woman—Gina Moynihan, a sharp, sexy, darkly funny thirtysomething IT worker—The Forgotten Waltz charts an extramarital affair from first encounter to arranged, settled, everyday domesticity. . . . This novel’s beauty lies in Enright’s spare, poetic, off-kilter prose—at once heartbreaking and subversively funny. It’s built of startling little surprises and one fresh sentence after another. Enright captures the heady eroticism of an extramarital affair and the incendiary egomania that accompanies secret passion: For all their utter ordinariness, Sean and Gina feel like the greatest lovers who’ve ever lived.”—Elle
It’s the following quote I think sums the novel up so well:
“But I am being hard on my husband, who I loved, and who is now fighting with me about money, never mind broken dreams. In fact everyone is fighting with me about money: my sister, too. Who would have thought love could be so expensive? I should sit down and calculate it out at so much per kiss. The price of this house plus the price of that house, divided by two, plus the price of the house we are in. Thousands. Every time I touch him. Hundreds of thousands. Because we took it too far. We should have stuck to car parks and hotel bedrooms (no, really, we should really have stuck to car parks and hotel bedrooms). If we keep going the price will come down – per event, as it were. Twenty years of love can be consummated for tuppence. After a lifetime it is almost free.”
It’s the price of their affair, the relationship they never believed would sour, the vitriol spewed by former spouses, friends and relatives whose respect they’ve lost. It’s reality, in other words, hitting with a vengeance, and the knowing – too late – it could never have turned out otherwise.
So much for Prince Charming and Princess Happily Ever After. The moral: Love Sucks.
But the worst of it is, do I need to put The Forgotten Waltz on the Shortlist as well? And, will there be anything left once I’ve finished reading all the Longlisters I can fit into my schedule?
This is the true moral dilemma: the literary lust that dare not speak its name. But I have to make a call; I cannot prevaricate any longer. I love Anne Enright for the occasional moments of prose that soars, in the case of TFW for depicting adultery from the viewpoint of the woman and giving the book a realistic ending.
But… And this is painful… I do not see her edging past her competition, making the Shortlist. Sigh.
Anne Enright on why there are are so many good Irish writers. Brilliant. Listen (audio only) if you have a few minutes.