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.)
Ed Park - Time Magazine
“Booker winner Enright is so good, she can turn falling real estate values into a thing of beauty.”
Francine Prose - 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-loved material girls our era has produced. Enright’s channeling of Gina’s interior monologue is so accurate and unsparing that reading the book is 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.”
“This stunning novel...offers up its brilliance by way of astonishingly effective storytelling. ...The vicissitudes of extramarital love...are tracked with a raw clarity expressed in magnetically precise prose.”
Lizzie Skurnick - O Magazine
“In America we like our adultery served straight up: a bubble of illicit passion that ends in regret. That’s not what Irish novelist Anne Enright is serving in The Forgotten Waltz, which forgoes the simple morality tale for something more complex and satisfying. … Casting aside cultural bromides about the immorality of affairs, Enright puts us squarely in the center of a terrible truth: Love can be miraculousand still destroy everything in its path.””
Clare McHugh - Wall Street Journal
“[T]he novel is also a beautiful, subtle examination of intimacy, of family life, and of the enduring connection between father and daughter, a bond that wayward adult passion cannot override … In The Forgotten Waltz reality is crystal clear and the damage that characters do to themselves and others sharply drawn, and yet Ms. Enright is never obvious or heavy-handed. She has made a careful study of the way people interpret and react to their parents, siblings, children and partners and captures much that is startlingly recognizable. The humorous details that she employs and the compassion that she shows for her flawed characters make the book luminous even as it tells a rather bleak story.”
“Enrightwistful, equivocal, angrygives voice to her characters with remarkable sympathy and precision, and she is never heavy-handed in tracing the connections between the private and public lives of capital.”
Megan O'Grady - Vogue
“Moving from the initial riptide of desire to the compromises of Gina's post-divorce life with her lover and his adolescent daughter, whose ungainly presence lends the book its fundamental poignancy, Enright suggests there's a quiet tragedy in adultery's modern-day ordinariness, in which the costs of betrayal are measured less in terms of shame than in house sales.”
Kate Christensen - Elle Magazine
“Anne Enright...has written a new, unapologetic kind of adultery novel.
This novel's beauty lies in Enright's spare, poetic, off-kilter proseat once heart-breaking 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...”
Joy Press - Los Angeles Times
“Anne Enright tells a funny, dark, no-judgments tale of rapture and ambivalence. … The real magic is in Enright’s prose, which burrows into characters like fingernails into skin, peeling back the hidden layers of ordinary interactions and momentary thoughts. Material that another writer might string across a whole book, Enright burns up in a page, like it’s nothing, using it to create a jagged portrait of Dublin during the recent boom.”
Lisa Verge Higgins - New York Journal of Books
“There are said to be Chinese artists who can etch pretty little pictures on the surface of a grain of ricescenes that, with the help of a magnifying glass, are revealed in elaborate detail. Anne Enright’s latest book, The Forgotten Waltz, evokes the same kind of wonder, with one significant difference: The scenes the author so delicately sketches are dark dramas of domestic dysfunction. In this case, Ms. Enright has penned an emotional autopsy of an infidelity.””
Kimberly Cutter - Marie Claire
“Anne Enright’s exhilarating novel The Forgotten Waltz … explores a life-altering affair between two seemingly unremarkable Irish professionals with such exquisite attention, honesty, and wit as to make every sentence throb with life. Don’t start this book if you have anything else to do for the rest of the day because it will not get done. … [Our narrator,] Gina is not interested in what she’s supposed to feel but in what she does feelan ever-shifting, primal range of emotions that readers will recognize with delight. It’s that wonderful feeling that you get from the best fiction: Ah, at last somebody said it.”
“It’s relatively rare for a sophisticated, thought-provoking novel to titillate, but Anne Enright’s new book The Forgotten Waltz is a scintillating exception to the rule….You know those books that unfold and surround you? This is one of those…. Enright mesmerizes with her insights into the convoluted paths human thoughts and desires take…. But besides its fierce intelligence, this book is just plain sexy.”
Roxana Robinson - Washington Post
“Everything in [The Forgotten Waltz] is perfectly engineered, and it’s so beautifully written that you could read it once just for the dazzle of the prose, then start over for the content. … [T]his book makes me feel that Enright could do anything. … It’s hard to say which is more satisfying about this book: its emotional complexities or the frugal elegance of its prose. … I suggest you climb into this book, lean back and trust Enright to take you wherever she wants to go.”
Valerie Ryan - Seattle Times
“Anne Enright, 2007 Man Booker Prize winner for The Gathering, has once again brought the reader into the heart of a story as old as time, made brand new by her fine hand…. Enright makes the mundane momentous with very few words. The immediacy with which she writes tells the reader to pay attention and look below the surface…. Anne Enright is uncannily deft at portraying lust and passion as they morph into resignation and the realization that one marriage may be much like another…. Addictive reading.”
Holloway McCandless - Shelf Awareness
“For readers who can countenance unapologetic female infidelity (at least in fiction), The Forgotten Waltz is a must-readit delivers Enright’s incantatory and highly mineralized prose, her virtuoso capturing of mood and confirms her ability to create nuanced characters of all ages and backgrounds. This mature novel practically flaunts a wry, take-no-prisoners narrator who can make you laugh and wince.”
Elizabeth Taylor - Chicago Tribune
“The Forgotten Waltz is so darkly funny, and laser sharp, that it is possible to read it solely as a well-written adultery novel, an infidelity showstopper. … But Enright is too interesting a writer to offer up merely an exquisitely written adultery drama. In the book she makes a profoundly insightful connection between adultery and overspending and borrowing.”
Time Out Chicago
“Enright’s shimmering prose captures the nuances of light and dark in nature and in society, and she deftly creates memorable characters living in the many and busy little nothings that form the drama of everyday life.”
The Paris Review
“The considerable narrative pleasures of this novel lie in Enright’s luminous language, as she sketches Gina’s attempts to figure out what happened and how and why.”
Pam Houston - More Magazine
“Amid the heartbreaking bewilderments of reconfigured families, Enright makes us believe entirely in the most ill-begotten brand of love.”
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.