The Green Road is the story of an Irish family, the Madigans. Rosaleen and Patrick Madigan had four children, Dan, Constance, Emmet and Hannah. The first chapter began in 1980, when the oldest, Dan, told his family that he wanted to become a priest. Rosaleen, began moaning and crying, then took to her bed for two weeks after Dan made his pronouncement. (this confused me as I thought Irish mothers would be thrilled that their oldest son would want to become a priest).
The story then covers the next thirty years as the four children become adults and go off to live their lives. Dan ended up living in the United States, Emmet lived in various third world countries, and Hannah lived in Dublin, leaving Constance still living near her parents. This left Rosaleen, long ago widowed, living alone, thinking of her times with her beloved husband, Patrick, and wondering how her children felt about her. She decided to sell the family home and so her children all came home for one last Christmas together.
The writing is absolutely exquisite:
"The bed was above her, ready to fall through the plaster, the place where her father died, and her mother died, the place that later became her bed with Pat Madigan, when they moved into that room, and a kind of curse in it for the next while: no child conceived there except a few miscarried things, until Emmet was finally started and then Hanna. The bed where Pat Madigan himself finally died, his body wasted by the cancer until all that was left of him was the scaffolding. but, my goodness, he made a great ruin, for having been so well built, those big hinging bones, the joints getting larger and the cheekbones more proud, as the meat melted back and spirit of the man broke through."
The characters in this book were developed as well as any I have ever read. Great book. I guess that I need to give The Gathering another try!