This is Anne Enright’s first novel, published in 1995. It is a funny, perhaps even hilarious novel about parents, love, sex, motherhood, religion, and also about the absurdities of them all. It is a strange, excellent and enthralling novel.
The narrator of this excellent story is Grace. She lives in Dublin and works for a pretty tacky television show called Love Quiz. The crew of the show is strange and bizarre, and so is her family. She has a father who is growing senile and wears a wig. His wig is a somewhat controversial topic, and it cannot be spoken of in front of him. It is treated as a member of the family.
When Stephen arrives on her doorstep, Grace has no idea what she’s in for. Stephen has a strange tale to tell. He explains that he is an angel, a former bridge builder, who committed suicide in 1934. He has been sent back to earth (as all suicides are) to guide lost souls – to set “despair to rights”.
Grace does not take this personally at first, but eventually she has to face the idea that things are not so easy, and that her greatest intimacy is with this supernatural creature. As Grace begins to take stock of her life and the prospect of caring enough about something to fight for it, The Wig My Father Wore takes us on a moving, surreal romp through Catholicism, parents, and the reclamation of love from the twin modern evils of cynicism and the detritus of pop culture.
The ending is very subtle and very interesting, with odd characters. It is overall an excellent novel, written in a very precise manner while dealing at times with quite absurd incidences and situations. The Wig My Father Wore is a very entertaining read, outstandingly written, full of sentences and observations that amaze, and overall, a very intelligent novel.