“Actress” Anne Enright: a novel about recognizing the mother

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Anne Enright is the first Irish writer to receive the Booker Prize. She received it in 2007 year for the novel “Gathering” (The Gathering), which has not yet been translated into Russian. Although in the West the name Enright is widely known – She is called the successor of the traditions of fearless Irish naturalism, in Russia this writer is almost unknown. IN 2000 In 2013 we published her debut novel “My Father’s Wig”, in 2013 the publishing house “Phantom Press” released “Forgotten Waltz”, and in 2022 readers had the opportunity to get acquainted with the latest novel by Enright – “Actress”.

Mother through daughter’s eyes

After reading the annotation, we can mistakenly assume that we have a biography of the Irish actress Catherine O’Dell. But no: O’Dell – the heroine is completely fictional, although it is not easy to believe, so skillfully Enright weaves her fictional life into the real story of the second half of XX century. IN As a child, Catherine O’Dell traveled with her father’s troupe through the cities of Ireland (her first experience starring in ants), then shone on the stages of London, New York and Dublin, was the muse of playwright Samuel Beckett and screenwriter Arthur Kopit. Her talented performance was praised by the famous American film critic Pauline Cale, and the line from the oil commercial, which starred Catherine, “Of course it’s just butter.” – became winged in Ireland. Catherine’s star shone for almost forty years, but her sunset was swift, if not devastating. She put an end to it herself, shooting in the foot of a producer with whom she had worked for many years. She was later sent to a psychiatric hospital for treatment, from where she emerged unrecognizably changed and soon died at the age of 58. years.

And so her only daughter Nora, reaching the same age, decides to write a book about her mother. The impetus was a conversation with a girl who dedicated a whole dissertation to Catherine: “She wanted to create her highly subjective portrait, implying a desire to deprive Catherine O’Dell of the halo of the icon and show her as a living person.». Nora understands that she has to write a book about her mother herself – first of all for himself, to finally understand what kind of person Catherine was, to debunk her dazzling image.

No need to think that “Actress” Is a book written by Nora. This is a deep, sometimes painful reflection on what even preparing to write such a book will entail. Nora tries to recreate her mother’s life from the ashes of shabby anecdotes, theatrical legends, gossip and her own memories. There is also an almost detective story about the search for a father among men to whom Catherine was favorable.

Nora’s own story emerges through the story of the ups and downs of the brilliant actress with remarks scattered here and there and quiet sighs. She was afraid to repeat the fate of her mother, especially in relationships with men, and eventually walked on the same rake and added new ones. Striving for a stable family life, which Catherine never had and which she never dreamed of, Nora finds herself hostage to a suffocating marriage, all the longing of which Enright manages to convey in a couple of lines.

Better than memoirs

In “Actress” Enright seeks to realize the incomprehensibility of what makes an actor great – Few authors of biographies have succeeded. Enright proves to be a real chameleon writer: she appears to us as a memoirist, journalist, critic, daughter – and proves that her emotional intelligence knows no bounds. Thus, “The Actress” becomes a story of obsession, in which sounds a low but strong note of suppressed pain from the need to share his mother with the crowd and admire her from afar. And Enright does not try to “comb” life to please readers, leaving some questions unanswered.

The review uses material from The Guardian «Actress by Anne Enright review» and articles in The Washington Post “Anne Enright is the real star of her brilliant new novel” Actress “.

Publisher: Sinbad
Release year: 2022
Translator: Vera Sanina

Also read the review “Woman is not a man”: Itaf Ram’s novel about what is happening in closed Arab communities in the United States.

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