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The Forgotten Waltz: A Novel Hardcover – October 3, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 263 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (October 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039307255X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393072556
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Masterful and deeply satisfying novel.” (Starred Review - Publishers Weekly)

“Booker winner Enright is so good, she can turn falling real estate values into a thing of beauty.” (Ed Park - Time Magazine)

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.” (Francine Prose - New York Times Book Review)

“Starred review.  In rueful, witty, unpredictable and compassionate prose, Enright gives expression to subtle, affecting shades of human interaction.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Starred review. ...[C]orrosively beautiful novel... A breathtaking work that will surprise you. Highly recommended.” (Barbara Hoffert - Library Journal)

“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.” (Booklist)

“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 miraculous—and still destroy everything in its path.”—” (Lizzie Skurnick - O Magazine)

“[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.” (Clare McHugh - Wall Street Journal)

“Enright—wistful, equivocal, angry—gives 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.” (New Yorker)

“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.” (Megan O'Grady - Vogue)

“Anne Enright...has written a new, unapologetic kind of adultery novel.

This novel's beauty lies in Enright's spare, poetic, off-kilter prose--at 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...” (Kate Christensen - Elle Magazine)

“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.” (Joy Press - Los Angeles Times)

“There are said to be Chinese artists who can etch pretty little pictures on the surface of a grain of rice—scenes 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.”” (Lisa Verge Higgins - New York Journal of Books)

“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 feel—an 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.” (Kimberly Cutter - Marie Claire)

“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.” (Huffington 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.” (Roxana Robinson - Washington Post)

“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.” (Valerie Ryan - Seattle Times)

“For readers who can countenance unapologetic female infidelity (at least in fiction), The Forgotten Waltz is a must-read—it 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.” (Holloway McCandless - Shelf Awareness)

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.” (Elizabeth Taylor - Chicago Tribune)

“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.” (Time Out Chicago)

“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.” (The Paris Review)

“Amid the heartbreaking bewilderments of reconfigured families, Enright makes us believe entirely in the most ill-begotten brand of love.” (Pam Houston - More Magazine)

About the Author

Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works. She has published three volumes of stories, one book of nonfiction, and five novels. In 2015, she was named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction. Her novel The Gathering won the Man Booker Prize, and her last novel, The Forgotten Waltz, won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

Customer Reviews

I do not know people who talk like that.
She writes of the Dublin,I love with lyrical language , and a loving insight into both the city and the characters in her story.
It is just not interesting and rather boring.
Mary M Stanton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Anne Enright, author of the 2007 Booker Prize winner, The Gathering, has written a new novel called The Forgotten Waltz. It is told from the point of view of Gina Moynihan who has a lust-filled affair with a married man, Sean Vallely. They first meet at a garden party hosted by Anne's sister Fiona, and progresses from there. At first there are innocent (and not so innocent) looks, and then on a business trip in Switzerland, the affair begins in earnest.

When Gina first sees Sean at Fiona's garden party, she is happily married to her husband, Conor. There are no outward signs that there is trouble in the marriage and, as I read this book, I did not see the marriage and any shortcomings as a reason for the affair. Gina saw Sean, felt lust, and let her impulses prevail. Sean is married and has a child named Evie who, at the time that Gina first meets Sean, is four years old.

The novel is not told in any particular linear order. It is related to the reader in fragments of memory that Gina recalls. "So don't ask me when this happened or that happened. Before or after seems beside the point. As far as I was concerned, they were happening all along."

Always playing a key role is Evie, Sean's daughter. When she is five she begins to have childhood seizures that continue for many years. Annette, Sean's wife, is vigilant about Evie's medical care and appears not to notice that Sean is otherwise preoccupied with Gina. Evie, however, has the sense that something is happening in her home that is not quite normal. At one point, she even sees Sean and Gina kissing on the stairs of her home.

The novel takes place at the start of Ireland's economic boom in the nineties and progresses to the depressions that hits later on.
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Format: Paperback
Enright has written a beautifully, painfully honest novel of the train wreck of infidelity breached on the immutability of marriage. Set in Dublin, it begins innocently enough, eyes meeting across a garden. Years pass before Gina and Sean begin the long, passionate involvement that destroys both their marriages. Once engaged, neither has the desire to stop, entranced in a slow dance that obliterates everything else: "We fitted together our jigsaw love." Gina's narrative seduces, rationalizes the inevitability of this union, making the reader complicit in her obsession, her need for this flawed man who is exceptional perhaps only to her. This is the song of the other woman, one who appears helpless to resist the secret couplings, the falling away of spousal intimacy.

The jarring note in Gina's drama is the existence of Sean's child, Evie, a daughter with problems that cause her mother great anxiety, her father an excess of distraction: The fact that a child was involved made everything that much harder to forgive." Evie is as real as the affair that destroys two homes, casting a shadow on the right to claim happiness in a spoken-for other, a vague guilt in pleasurable stolen moments as Gina and Sean "pulled the sky down... to settle over us like a cloth". Enright writes seamlessly of conflict, internal and external, the emotional detritus of the breaking of vows. But she does so with great skill, the language of the heart impossible to map- or control as Gina and Sean veer towards each other and away from their families. Collateral damage.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Susan on November 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book....up until the last chapter when I felt as if it ended so abruptly I actually thought there must have been an error in the printing, that the blank pages after the "About the Author" note were perhaps meant to have contained an epilogue. Sadly, they were just that: blank pages that left me feeling as if I'd been led up to a glorious mountainside only to be carelessly abandoned.

I'm simultaneously reading another book, a memoir in which the author's daughter is referenced as waving her arms in a circular motion while rolling her eyes, asking, "Point?". That is exactly how I pictured myself at the end of this otherwise artfully woven tale.

I was easily drawn into the narrative; how a chance meeting eventually impacted not just the lead character's life, but of course those around her as well. At the same time, I did find the author's frequent intergections of "I think"'s and "I mean's" to be a bit cloying after awhile. Yes, it was as if the character were telling me a story in real time, but I have friends who tell such yarns with so many intergections of "you know's" I soon tire of listening.

However, unlike some other reviewers, for the most part I enjoyed the texture of Enright's prose. The following entry, during the early part of the book, particularly resonated with me when she described the man with whom Gina, the first person character, becomes involved:"...a man who, in his Speedos, was not exactly a siren song. He stirred us up. Everything he said was funny and everything seemed to do you down. Or buoy you up. He could do that too.....Even in the strong sun, I was caught by the beauty of his eyes, which were larger than a man's should be and more easily hurt.
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The Forgotten Waltz: A Novel
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