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Irish author Anne Enright would have you believe that she has little personal experience of the milieu she describes in her new novel, The Forgotten Waltz, which chronicles an illicit affair among go-fast young professionals in pre-bust Ireland.

"Theatre and the arts are too rackety for people to get married young and do that thing," she says.

Nothing of the salacious life she dissects so mercilessly in The Forgotten Waltz is her own, according to Enright, a caffeine-addicted, tart-tongued elf of a woman.

Her cellphone, however, demurs, interrupting an interview in Toronto's King Edward hotel with insistent beeps of illicit news suppressed by yet another British "superinjunction." Superinjunctions are draconian legal devices available to influential people seeking to quash news of their personal indiscretions, and defying them through the electronic grapevine has recently become Britain's second favourite sport. Enright can't resist the urge to look.

The noises she emits suggest it's a good one - somebody important caught with his or her knickers down, maybe even a friend. Enright won't say. There is an etiquette involved in spreading such "illegal" news. But nor can she plausibly deny being in the thick of things now.

Having won the renowned Man Booker Prize for her previous novel, The Gathering, Enright is now public property. And The Forgotten Waltz is "much more a public object as a book than The Gathering was," she says, noting that "every fool in every newspaper is going to have an opinion about it,"

The shift is "all quite discombobulating, I have to say," Enright explains. "You write a book and you finish the book. That's your job done, right? You win the Booker and you have a whole new job. You have to be the thing, right? So instead of writing the story, you somehow are the story. And that I found that sort of terrible."

Again unlike The Gathering, which dealt with family trauma caused by suicide, The Forgotten Waltz is public in ways that the rumpled sheets pictured on the dust jacket belie. More an acid comedy of bad manners than a nyum-nyum soap opera, it is a book that studies its times as closely as the loves and lives of the adulterous pair who rumple the sheets. And the times are fascinating: a snowy week in February, 2009, the moment the bottom fell out of the Irish economy.

"It was a very interesting week," Enright says. "The country was stalled, everything was stopped, and people knew it was over. The country was in a kind of free fall, and nobody knew where the bottom was."

Read as a commentary on the irrational exuberance that gave birth to the all-paper Celtic Tiger, The Forgotten Waltz answers critics who complained that Enright's earlier novel was "the wrong book for Ireland," according to the author. "When The Gathering came out people said, 'Why are you dragging all this miserable old stuff up? We're over that now.' "

But The Gathering was partly about "the impossibility of finishing like that," Enright adds, and The Forgotten Waltz is in the same degree proof. Nothing could be more pathetic than its characters' blithe fascination with recreational real estate.

Adultery is the ideal lens with which to examine the Irish boom, according to Enright. "You're looking at social ties being loosened, you're looking at the ease money brings, you're looking at the tensions in women's lives that are being changed and a kind of retrenchment of masculinity," she says. In researching the work, she divided her time between quizzing friends about the logistics of a nooner and reading "postwar boom fiction from America" - Yates, Updike, Cheever.

"I was looking at various booms that had happened previously and that was pretty much the most useful for my purposes," she says.

As for the nooners, Enright insists that she struggled to obtain authoritative information. She wondered, for instance, how one makes a lunchtime assignation in a hotel with a 2 p.m. check-in time. "That is a good tester question. If somebody knew the answer to that, I knew they had experience."

Mercifully for her own sake, Enright says, she has always been out of sync with her times, and is now riding a crest of good fortune as neighbours lose their jobs and "sink like water into sand."

"There's no good news out of Ireland," she says.

Enright's career defies another norm in that it remained largely dormant through the bloom of her youth, flowering only after the birth of her two children, now 8 and 10.

"It took me by surprise, I had fully expected not to write again," she says. "It is a sign of a very interesting social moment that you can be a mother without being creatively compromised."

Having to pay "boom prices" for daycare kept her busy, according to Enright. "So I couldn't just swan about and be an artist. I didn't have time. I just had to get the books written and out there."

And so she has, producing the best novels of her career, for better or worse, richer or poorer, but reliably at the heart of things.