I am pretty sure that in the moments right before I die, when my whole life flashes before me, I will see at least a few scenes in which I am sitting on hardwood floors, crumpled and weeping. This is because apparently when I am heartbroken my legs also cease to work.
A good friend once told me, “We can’t choose who we fall in love with.” He looked at me meaningfully over his cheeseburger and nodded with the wisdom of one who has been there. If you’ve never fallen in love with someone who is attached to someone else—first of all, I don’t believe you—but if that’s true, then you won’t understand any of this. But it happens, reader. It’s not pretty or happy, but it happens.
I picked up THE FORGOTTEN WALTZ because it features a quote from Francine Prose, a writer I respect, saying simply: “A tour de force.” Francine has notoriously high standards. One of my most memorable experiences as a student came in the graduate fiction workshop at Johns Hopkins, when Francine handed back our first stories and informed us that our sentences were “lying on the page like dead fish.” The twelve of us gasped. So for her to describe something as “a tour de force” –of course I had to read it.
I also had to read her complete review in the New York Times. The sentence where the “tour de force” is plucked from reads as follows: “Ultimately, ‘The Forgotten Waltz’ evokes Enright’s Irish literary colleagues less than it does a tour de force like Ford Madox Ford’s novel ‘The Good Soldier,’ a book whose narrator has only a partial and flawed idea of the story being told.” So it’s a bit more complicated than a simple “tour de force.” But I must say I agree with Francine about what makes this book worth reading: it’s not so much the plot as the perspective.
In its own way, it’s relentless.