Spanning thirty years and three continents, The Green Road tells the story of Rosaleen, matriarch of the Madigan family, and her four children.
Ardeevin, County Clare, Ireland. 1980. When her oldest brother Dan announces he will enter the priesthood, young Hanna watches her mother howl in agony and retreat to her room. In the years that follow, the Madigan children leave one by one: Dan for the frenzy of New York under the shadow of AIDS; Constance for a hospital in Limerick, where petty antics follow simple tragedy; Emmet for the backlands of Mali, where he learns the fragility of love and order; and Hanna for modern-day Dublin and the trials of her own motherhood. When Christmas Day reunites the children under one roof, each confronts the terrible weight of family ties and the journey that brought them home. The Green Road is a major work of fiction about the battles we wage for family,faith and love.
I had seen quite a lot of publicity about this novel in various book of the year lists in newspapers at the end of last year. A bit of a departure from my comfort zone but it was a step that I was glad I took.
Telling the story of an Irish family, much like any other family they all had their own dreams and their own troubles. At first I thought that Dan was selfish and quite cold, especially when the AIDS crisis was causing so much anguish for those affected. As he got older and more honest with himself I changed my view slightly. Emmett always seemed to be full of anger although he used it to try and make the world a better place. Constance was harassed, the only one out of the four who had stayed close to Rosaleen. The scene where she did her Christmas shop was very funny and very accurate, anybody who has ever done the Christmas shop will agree. Hanna, the first one we met and re-introduced to last. I didn’t connect to her immediately, it was only after she made the trip home that I warmed to her more. Rosaleen seemed very real. Through much of the novel she was alone, resentful and feeling abandoned by her children but uncertain how to be when they were altogether.
I loved the way it was written, there was sadness at times but it was also quite witty. All of the five main characters felt real even though some were hard to like at first. I enjoyed reading the Irish accent, sometimes in a novel an accent doesn’t read properly but I felt that it did in this book.