The wren, the wren by Anne Enright.
The Wren, the Wren is narrated by three characters. We have Carmel, the mother looking back over her childhood with her difficult older sister, Imelda and her philandering and general pain in the bottom father, Phil Mc Daragh.
Phil Mc Daragh is a distant father and also happens to be a much loved nature type Irish poet. Phil is our second character though he only gets a short chapter where he recounts his “running through the fields” childhood in a cottage in Offaly.
Carmel has a daughter, Nell, who is our third voice or narrator. Nell’s character was problematic for me and though Enright is very humorous and observant, the style of Nell’s sections wore me out. I also am becoming annoyed/tired of the seemingly helpless young woman I keep reading about in many of the current Irish female written novels. You know the ones. A young woman has a boyfriend who is not a nice person. Scratch that. The boyfriend is actually an abuser and frequently abuses, physically and sexually, their girlfriend. In this case it is Nell.
Yes, this topic is of complete relevance and violence against women has to be highlighted, discussed and put out there to enact real change, But, Nell’s character is a carbon copy of many of the other “lost” and “emotionally frozen” young female characters I have read about in novels and short stories this year. It leads me to think that young women under thirty are all like this? Fiction?
Nell is trying to get away from her supposed traumatic past which isn’t really traumatic. That is not just my opinion, it just isn’t traumatic. She grew up with a very capable and confident single mother, Carmel. Though Carmel loses her temper with Nell in one section when Nell is quite small, this could hardly count as trauma.
"The Wren, The Wren" is a beautifully written exploration of family ties, Irish life, and the weight of the past, no matter how trivial that person’s suffering might seem. It`s not for everyone, but if you`re into character-driven narratives and don`t mind a slower pace, give it a go.