The Wren, The Wren by Anne Enright reviewed by Emma

“The connection between us is more than a strand of DNA, it is a rope thrown from the past, a fat twisted rope, full of blood.” 
Booker prize winning novelist Anne Enright’s latest work, now available in paperback, is a brilliant examination of familial relationships set in Dublin.  
Phil McDaragh is a renowned poet who walks out on his ill wife and 2 daughters, “She got sick unfortunately, and the marriage didn’t survive.” One daughter, Imelda, never has children and becomes fiercely protective of her father and his legacy. The other, Carmel, grows up to be a ferociously independent woman who makes a conscious decision to raise Nell, her only daughter, as a single mother. The book is largely about Carmel and Nell and their relationship, which feels absolutely true to mother daughter relationships in all their complexity.  
Enright does not shy away from the emotional damage caused by Phil’s treacherous act. For Carmel, Phil is a presence who looms over her life, “her father was bigger than the world and a lot less wonderful “. Although he is long dead, he is a strong presence in the book, both through an old TV interview that Carmel and Nell find online and through his poetry, which appears throughout, along with his translations of original Irish language poems. The book’s title is taken from a poem which Phil dedicated to Carmel. 
This is a beautifully written book full of exquisite observations and vivid, believable characters. I was able to dip in and out of it on holiday until the point at which I couldn’t and the need to find out how Carmel and Nell resolve their various emotional issues became too compelling for me to put it down. I read the second half in one sitting. 
The Wren, The Wren has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Literature.