The Green Room by Anne Enright (Vintage)

by Patrick O'Connor

THIS is a fascinating multi-faceted look at a dysfunctional family.

It focuses on the Madigans, mother Rosaleen and her children Dan, Emmet, Constance and Hanna who meet up for a Christmas gathering in the west of Ireland for the first time in many years.

Different sections of the book deal with each character over a 25 year period from 1980 but it is Rosaleen's influence over all them which is the key factor.

Her oldest son Dan announces his intention to become a priest but when we catch up with him later he is a flamboyant and prominent figure in New York's gay scene.

Constance is a mother to three teenagers, awaiting a mammogram, Emmet is back in Ireland after many years as a charity worker in various points in the globe and Hanna is an actress and new mother trying to copy with alcoholism.

Enough there to keep any mother awake at night but Rosaleen has difficulties in her relationships with all her children, aggravated when it is announced she is planning to sell the family home.

Enright is an accomplished novelist and enables the reader to connect with all five characters despite their many foibles.