This is a great book. Not a beautiful book, not a 'nice' story or an easy read, in some ways, but it's a great book.
Depressing as hell though.
It's extremely character-driven, and these characters aren't super likeable. The central problem of a woman who pushes away her children and then complains that they're gone, is so ubiquitous as to be boring...but I was so interested in the children, that the mother just seemed like background noise to me.
Man, I really don't like Rosaleen.
There is a moment at the end of the book, where one of the sons is walking through his childhood home, taking pictures of small features of the place where he grew up. A photo of the bathroom tap. A photo of a doorknob, of wallpaper, of a banister. This scene really struck me. It made me realize how all of the small details slip away as we age - all those tiny critical things that we associate with our childhood.
Close your eyes and think for a second...can you recall what the bathroom tap looked like, from your eye level when you still had to stand on tiptoe to reach it? Do you still remember how the screen on the back door smelled when you pressed your nose against it? Can you picture the print on your grandma's kitchen curtains, or remember what it felt like to open that old-fashioned fridge?
It seems Anne Enright can. And that's why I kept reading, almost without stopping, all the way to the end.