The wren, the wren is a complex novel about family.  Nell, age 22,  is struggling with her career as a writer and social media influencer.  She is pondering the differences between people and the way they think  “We don’t see the same street  as the person walking beside us.  All we can do is tell the other person what we see.”  Nell is in an unhealthy relationship with Felim which she has kept a secret from her mother, Carmel.

Carmel is a single parent who raised Nell alone and never identified Nell’s father.  Nell and Carmel are close and distant and have a complicated relationship.  Nell explains that “My  mother is strongly of the opinion that, if you don’t talk about yourself then you won’t have any problems.” 

Carmel’s father, Phil McDaragh, was a famous Irish poet.  He left the family when Carmel was 12 and her sister, Imelda was 17.  At the time he left, their mother, Terry, was recovering from breast cancer.  Imelda and Carmel had a difficult relationship and Imelda was physically abusive.  Phil ultimately married a significantly younger woman who had been a student in America and they lived in Chicago.  Phil died in the mid-1980s

The years go by and Carmel and Nell both have relationships and meaningful lives.  Imelda also has a relationship with Carmel and Nell.  The one constant is that Phil and his poetry are in the background of their lives.  The wren, the wren is a poem he wrote for Carmel.

The novel’s chapters are divided by Nell’s story, Carmel’s story, and here and there Phil’s story.  In addition, each individual’s chapter is preceded by a poem.

The novel is compelling in its   depiction of family history, dynamics and generational impact and has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.  Anne Enright is a master storyteller of Irish familial ties.  You can reserve this novel at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking on: