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The Forgotten Waltz

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  5,560 ratings  ·  912 reviews
In this extraordinary novel, Anne Enright explores the momentous drama of everyday life; the volatile connections between people; the wry, accurate take on families, marriage, and brittle middle age.

In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, it has snowed. Gina Moynihan, girl about town, recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for "the love of he
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 2nd 2012 by W. W. Norton Company (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.17  · 
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I just can't believe it. That all you have to do is sleep with somebody and get caught and you never have to see your in-laws again. Ever. Pfffft! Gone. It's the nearest thing to magic I have yet found.

Don't be fooled by the sentimental title, or the romantic songs that lead off each chapter—these are sly and brittle ironies that ping emotional soft spots like a volley from a peashooter to the back of your neck. The Forgotten Waltz is pitch-perfect social satire that mirrors adultery with th
Jennifer Steil
I expected to love this book, given Anne Enright's reputation and my love for all things Irish. But it left me cold. It's not the adultery that galled me, but how it was carried out and presented. Even after finishing the book I found the main character, Gina, elusive. She never came to life for me as a real, whole person. I can't imagine what her conversation is like, how she walks, what she likes to eat, or even what she does at her job, which is only vaguely explained. I couldn't even really ...more
Laura Anne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Boyle
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: irish
Man this is a hard book to like. It's told from the point of view of Gina, a married woman, who embarks on an affair with a married man. I didn't know who to root for, or if I was even supposed to be rooting for anyone.

Is it well-written? Undoubtedly. Enright is strong on the theme of adultery - the illicit thrills, the nagging shame, the incalculable, inevitable cost of it all. She also paints a faithful portrait of Ireland in the late 2000s - a country wealthy for the first time, having no ide
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it
‘Not again!’, I muttered under my breath when I started reading The Forgotten Waltz. The topic of marriage betrayal has been exploited so many times that I thought it took courage to choose it one more time. It’s difficult to say something original about ‘stolen love’ as Anne Enright put it, after Flaubert, Tolstoy, Galsworthy and many, many others. And truth be told, I haven’t found any revolutionary discoveries in The Forgotten Waltz. I guess the author hoped that Evie would make the story uni ...more
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21st-century, ireland
I liked this book. I think I did, anyway. I mean, perhaps I didn't but I just forgot. On the other hand, maybe I didn't forget and I'm just being coy about memory. But then, maybe I do remember everything completely, but I'm just lying outright. I think I liked the book.

If that is an irritating introduction to a review, try reading 230-odd pages of a book written entirely in that vein.

Enright plays with the nature of memory while her protagonist forward slash narrator plays with the nature of an
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-english, 2018
It is surprising how close you can get to someone, by staying very still.

4.5 stars

I read Anne Enright's "The Gathering" almost a decade ago and remember loving it, so when I saw "The Forgotten Waltz" in a charity shop I bought it on a whim.

When I love a novel, despite there being obvious flaws, I tend to find it really difficult to articulate why. I don't like the characters, not because they're cheating on their partners without feeling too bad about it, no, I just don't think I'd like any of
Cam Mannino
This book taught me a couple of things about myself as a reader. First, I don't enjoy first person narratives like I used to. The characters are naturally too self-absorbed and unless they are complex, insightful people, their view of the other characters and their situation is too limited. In this story, a married woman with little self-knowledge begins a relationship with a married man - a man she never seems to fully understand and so we, as readers, don't really understand him either. Enrigh ...more
Nov 02, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Boring. Other than a few well-constructed, lyrical paragraphs, I never grew to care either way about these characters. You would think a novel about an affair would have some romance, or give some deeply felt reason for the attraction. But here we see this relationship from the beginning to its current, undefined state of both partners having left their marriages, and now - what? We never really know. Even the partners don't seem convinced about why they've started up with each other: we get the ...more
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
A vivid and engrossing first person past tense internalised narrative ostensibly of how somebody came to have an affair but going deeper in to the complexity of the ties that bind us; told with great skill and managing to evoke the sense that actually you’re just having a conversation with your narrator over some wine as she tells you this intimate story of her life, doubling back, getting sidetracked, drawing parallels, remembering the anguish and delight, in turns cold and passionate and alway ...more
It took me a few days to realise how good The Forgotten Waltz really is and it is very difficult to pin down why it is so good. I didn't warm to any of the characters, and some I actively disliked. There isn't much in the way of plot, certainly no surprises or unexpected twists. But the reader knows as she reads that this piece of writing is different and exceptional. There is a quality of real life about it, a sort of brutal honesty in the voice of the narrator, Gina that sets it apart from oth ...more
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Saying that this novel is about an affair is like saying a home is about bricks and glass. That's true enough, in a way, but it's not getting any where near the substance within. I have never read writing like that of Anne Enright's. It is powerful, and funny, and thought provoking all at the same time. I read ever so slowly to capture every phrase and reread sentences or whole paragraphs over again to contemplate their meaning which resonated deeply within me. She'll write something profound i ...more
There are two ways to read Anne Enright’s novel “The Forgotten Waltz”: The first, as a sexy page-turner filled with feigned nonchalance between instances of passionate hotel room hopping; The second, as one woman walking into the middle of life-as-she-knows-it with dynamite stuffed into her Wonder Bra.

The premise is that Gina Moynihan is going to meet up with the daughter of her lover. Along the way she considers the events of the past few years that have brought her to this point, starting wit
Carl R.
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anne Enright won the 2007 Booker for The Gathering I liked it, liked it, liked it, always meant to get back to Anne, and here she is with The Forgotten Waltz. Check out the cover, above. A perfect statement of the book. The woman represents Gina Moynihan, the chairs her husband and her lover. She’s got a hand on each, chosen neither. That’s part of the mess she creates. I’ll follow up on the rest a bit later. First, a word about language and voice, since those are the elements that make this bo ...more
sarah gilbert
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wordstock-2011
I close this book thinking to myself, "why? Why did I love it so?" and not having concrete answers. It has all the elements of a book I shouldn't like: too much sex, too much philandering, everyone rather miserable in the end, too much materialism, many essentially unlikable characters. But -- it was perfect. Ideal, really, in the way that Ford Madox Ford's A Good Soldier has long been my ideal English novel. I pick it up again, and read it, and think to myself, "why?" Who knows. It is.

It's so,
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Irish writers
I spent the summer reading plenty of novels by smart, young, cutting-edge writers. It was fun and exhilarating. But as fall approached and the days grew shorter, it felt appropriate to read a novel about adultery and its consequences by a seasoned author who knows the pathways of the heart.

The Forgotten Waltz, set in and around Dublin, encompasses those incredible years when Ireland, after all its sad centuries of impoverished outsider status, finally got to be a player in the mad scramble for w
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Few authors can write as intelligently, honestly and subtly as Anne Enright about relationships within families - particularly the relationships women have with their fathers, mothers and siblings and partners. The foreground relationship in this novel is a love affair between the narrator, Gina and Seán. Gina's narrative voice is wonderful - spikey, urbane, passionate and often uncertain.

However at the heart of the novel is the love Seán has for his daughter, Evie and the guilt he feels for ab
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I've read recently where an important element of the book was the fraught relation between a woman and her lover's daughter by another woman (the other was True by Riikka Pulkkinen). This book is narrated by a 32-year-old Irish woman beginning in Ireland's early 21st century economic boom and ending in its bust. She is married to one man, but drops the spoiler early in the text that in the end she is living with another. Thus the plot, which hinges on how their relationsh ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a book of social criticism and satire, seriously weakened by its uninteresting, dimly described, humanoid characters. Anne Enright depicts this generation of Irish yuppies as vacuous nonentities, almost psychopathic in their disregard for conscience. This does not add to the strength of her indictment. Instead, it produces a dull book, very easy to abandon.

Taken paragraph by paragraph, this is a well-written book. As a whole, it disappoints.
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
This was very close to being a five. I think Enright is an amazing writer at the sentence level. You don't even care, that much, that nothing happens in this book. It's an in-depth almost molecular examination of a lot of really big things: love, betrayal, desire, losing your parents, ambivalence about maternity, and the fearful truth that a lot of growing up has a "careful what you wish for" aspect to it. I especially liked the honest open-eyed writing about female desire -- so rare to read abo ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
A great example of why not to choose books based on the reviews - most people have been really ambivalent about it, and I think I only decided to read it today because it was the only book from the Orange Prize shortlist immediately available to me, and the prize gets announced tomorrow.

This book gutted me. I'm not sure I have ever read a more realistic portrayal of the inner journey of guilt, and of how we retell stories of our own lives to ourselves. There were also moments of humor that rang
Jo Case
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
With her Booker-winning novel The Gathering, Anne Enright gained a raised profile and a new following. This, her first novel since, again takes up the theme of family connections and domestic secrets, in a story that centres on an affair.

Gina meets Sean, her sister’s neighbour, at her niece’s birthday party – and again on a beach holiday. There are prickles of interest, but no real connection. When Gina’s employer needs to hire a management consultant, she suggests Sean, and the wheels are in tr
May 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The prose is gorgeous but keeps its distance. With Gina as the sole narrator, we only hear her perspective, and from what I can gather, she is a difficult person to know. Clues to her shallow, self-absorbed behavior are revealed in bits about her childhood and her relationship with her "pretend everything is perfect" mother (who even hides her declining health from her family). Even Gina's sister is too concerned with pretenses to feel authentic.

As I type this, I can't help but wonder if Enrigh
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anne Enright always pulls me up short. It is as if she is hidden on my shoulder, reading my mind. She writes with a dreamlike yet direct quality noticing details others might not bother to mention. It is like daydreaming when your mind falls upon something you had long forgotten from the past. The stories always,dot about in time as she dwells on one thing that leads onto another, but not always chronologically. I don't always understand what she is saying - it is so personal to the character. B ...more
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This very disturbing and gloriously written novel, by Anne Enright, takes place in Ireland, but a modern day Ireland which, other than the places which are named, could just as easily be modern America. The setting is irrelevant, except that it is a middle/upper middle class venue filled with intelligent, professional characters rather than one of poverty or extreme wealth. The Forgotten Waltz is the story of an affair between Sean Vallely, a married man, and Gina (I am not sure we know her last ...more
Ana Ovejero
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the story of an affair between two married people. However, being Anne Enright the writer behind the narrative, it is away from cliches with deep understanding of the conflict that this kind of situation arises.

It starts enigmatic, full of the cleverness of Enright's sentences 'If it hadnt been for the child then none of this might have happened, but the fact that a child was involved made everything that much harder to forgive.' In this story we not only find the cheater/husband, the wr
Lori Bamber
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anne Enright is a poet first, I think, and then a novelist, and after that, a philosopher and sociologist. This subtle, readable book is a devastating series of minuscule revelations about the way we destroy our lives, and the lives of others, with obtuse innocence and a sense of unexamined entitlement.

After racing through The Forgotten Waltz, drawn along by a taut plot line, I wish I had time to read it again with a highlighter, marking its many fresh, acute phrases.

I didn't love The Gathering
Kris McCracken
A dour tale of an unlikable adulterous couple, told from a female perspective. It should be noted that he is somewhat more odious than she is - and despite the constant reference to how witty and charming this fellow is, we never actually see it - and the narrative that follows is their negotiation of the pitfalls of their lying and cheating over the years.

Perhaps my disdain for this book lays in the utter lack of any tension, as the prologue reveals everything up front. We know how it ends, and
Julie Ehlers
Of the First Reads books I've won and read so far, this is definitely my favorite. I found it ceaselessly entertaining, but I was also brought up short by its wisdom many times. The narrator was undoubtedly annoying at times, but that was probably on purpose, and frankly, it made her more believable as an actual human being. I'm definitely going to check out other books by this author. ...more
May 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-already
Pretty good read. Not my favorite by Anne Enright but still enjoyable. It was actually a perfect book to read when I did, and that is why I chose it. It was entertaining, readable, and a bit on the lighter side (not that an extra-marital affair with a young child involved is light!) I've had this book for quite awhile so I am glad I finally can move it to my "read" shelf.

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Goodreads Ireland: May Monthly Read 2012: The Forgotten Waltz 18 40 May 28, 2012 06:09AM  

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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 The Forgotten Waltz won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

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