The Washington Post
…so beautifully written that you could read it once just for the dazzle of the prose, then start over for the content…The sensibility is subtle and complex, as the narrative explores connections between desire and responsibility…and the complicated ways in which duty is refracted into the rest of our lives. It's about love, and sex, and the sinuous, unexpected paths they create, and the way they are inevitably entwined with family. It's about fear and obligation and passion and ways in which we explain our actions to ourselves. The way we give up something we thought essential, for something that is. It's hard to say which is more satisfying about this book: its emotional complexities or the frugal elegance of its prose.
The New York Times Book Review
The Forgotten Waltz is a nervy enterprise, an audacious bait-and-switch. Cloaked in a novel about a love affair is a ferocious indictment of the self-involved material girls our era has produced. Enright's channeling of Gina's interior monologue is so accurate and unsparing that reading her book is, at times, like eavesdropping on a very long, crazily intimate cellphone conversation. It's a testament to the unwavering fierceness of Enright's project that I mean this as high praise. We've all met people like the characters in her book. Neither evil nor good, they're merely awful in entirely ordinary ways. And it's impressive, how skillfully Anne Enright has gotten them on the page.
In this gorgeous critique of Ireland as the Celtic Tiger draws its dying breaths, Enright chronicles an affair between 32-year-old Gina Moynihan, and Seán Vallely, a rich, dutiful husband and a devoted if somewhat inept father to the otherworldly, epileptic Evie, not yet 13. Set against a backdrop of easy money, second homes, and gratuitous spending, the dissolution of Gina's and Sean's marriages is both an antidote to and a symptom of the economic prosperity that gripped the country until its sudden and devastating fall from grace in 2008: "In Ireland, if you leave the house and there is a divorce, then you lose the house.... You have to sleep there to keep your claim.... You think it is about sex, and then you remember the money." There are, as with any affair, casualties, but what weighs most heavily on Gina is not what will become of her husband, Conor, but rather Evie, who sees Gina kissing her father, and innocently asks if she might be kissed too, oblivious to the fact that this moment heralds the end of her family. She eventually becomes all too aware that her father is gone and that she's stuck with her sad, neurotic mother. And so the question that remains at the end of this masterful and deeply satisfying novel is not just what will happen to Ireland, but what will happen to Evie? (Oct.)
She's a sharp-tongued home wrecker who doesn't try to ingratiate herself. But in this corrosively beautiful novel from Man Booker Prize winner Enright (The Gathering), you want to drag back Gina Moynihan as she recounts plunging headlong into the affair that will change her life. Gina met Seán Vallely at sister Fiona's house and first made love to him, without much preamble, while drunk at a business conference. Lectured by her sister, who proclaims that their just-deceased mother would have been mortified, Gina silently disagrees. Surely Mum would have appreciated this affair, which has liberated Gina from…what? The dread of domesticity with teddybearish but somewhat dense husband Conor? Boredom with a lock-step job in Ireland's grim economy? Writing with cool, clear-eyed logic, Enright is brave and persuasive enough to paint Seán as less than ideal; he's a rigid bully and not overwhelmingly attractive. Through Gina's determined pursuit of their relationship, we see the stupefying nature of desire, which Enright deftly contrasts with the sometimes equally stupefying nature of parenting; Gina's big competition is not Seán's wife but his sweet, not-quite-right daughter. VERDICT A breathtaking work that will surprise you; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/11/11.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
An adulterous love affair and Ireland's financial collapse overlap in the consistently impressive latest from the Man Booker Prize winner.
Real estate, materialism and family ties form the background to the story of an intense physical liaison between Gina Moynihan and Sean Vallely, narrated by Gina in a voice simultaneously smart and cynical, wry and all too conscious of the impact of their actions. With exquisite perception, Enright (Yesterday's Weather,2008, etc.) lifts a conventional story of infidelity into a larger study of connection, catastrophe and anguish, leavened by dark humor. What begins as a casual, clandestine sequence of encounters in hotel rooms between two married individuals slowly gathers momentum and, as her mother dies and the property market implodes, Gina's drift away from the husband she has loved becomes complete. The lovers end up living in Gina's mother's old home, previously valued at "two and a bit" but now worth nothing as no one will buy. Not so much a love story, more a consideration of female bonds and choices—men, work, children—and the unruly depths of human emotions, Enright's book once again brings melancholy lyricism to a domestic scenario and lifts it into another dimension.
In rueful, witty, unpredictable and compassionate prose, Enright gives expression to subtle, affecting shades of human interaction.