The Costa Book Awards are a prestigious British book award that will be held in January. This month, I'll be reading the Novel shortlist consisting of four books, this week is The Green Road by Anne Enright.
The third book of the shortlist convinced me of one thing; the Costa judges sure love a novel that jumps between time and people. Just like the previous two books I've read, A God in Ruins and A Place Called Winter, The Green Road spans over fifty years. Not only that, we also follow different characters at different points in time.
As mentioned before, I'm not overly fond of multiple narrative points of view in a story. I generally like to connect to one character and really grow attached to them so I'm invested in their journey. The Green Road is one of those books that could have benefited from having less characters. We follow Rosaleen and her four children, Dan, Emmet, Constance and Hannah, throughout most of their lives. While the family is originally from Ireland, we see how Dan moves to New York and eventually Canada and how Emmett travels the world to do charity work. In my opinion, the story was just too broad; too many characters in too many different locations with very different time periods just left me feeling lukewarm about each of them. I didn't attach or care too much about any character.
Anne Enright's writing is beautiful, she writes with an amazing balance between detail and action, but the plotting didn't quite do it for me. Everyone in the book was unhappy and going through something. While this could be realistic, I'd like to think that in a family of five, one of them must be kind of happy at some point, but maybe that is wishful thinking on my part.
My favourite character is Dan, who makes the must unexpected and original journey out of all the children. While first introduced as the son who wants to become a priest, the reader sees that course change drastically and follows him through some major life events. I really think I could have fully connected with Dan if I was able to spend more time with him. He, like the other children, gets one chapter by himself, before everyone is thrown together in one storyline. It just didn't give me enough information about Dan.
Overall, this book left me unaffected, especially considering the two amazing previous novels on the shortlist. The writing was beautiful and enjoyable, but the structure of the novel just didn't work for me. If you love multiple points of views and skipping from one character to another, this book is perfect for you. If you like to linger with characters longer, like I do, this is probably not the right match.