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Gathering Paperback – Mar 1 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books USA (March 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099501635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099501633
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 200 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,937,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In the taut latest from Enright (What Are You Like?), middle-aged Veronica Hegarty, the middle child in an Irish-Catholic family of nine, traces the aftermath of a tragedy that has claimed the life of rebellious elder brother Liam. As Veronica travels to London to bring Liam's body back to Dublin, her deep-seated resentment toward her overly passive mother and her dissatisfaction with her husband and children come to the fore. Tempers flare as the family assembles for Liam's wake, and a secret Veronica has concealed since childhood comes to light. Enright skillfully avoids sentimentality as she explores Veronica's past and her complicated relationship with Liam. She also bracingly imagines the life of Veronica's strong-willed grandmother, Ada. A melancholic love and rage bubbles just beneath the surface of this Dublin clan, and Enright explores it unflinchingly. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The blessing and the curse of family bonds have been addressed by some of our best writers, perhaps never so movingly as by William Kennedy in his Albany cycle of novels. Now Irish novelist Enright, whose intense lyrical style recalls Kennedy's, gives full voice to another tale of familial agony: Veronica's grief in the wake of her wayward brother Liam's suicide. Past and present merge as Veronica recalls their childhood growing up in Dublin in a family of 14, with never enough money or enough attention from their overburdened parents. She's convinced it all went wrong when Liam was sexually abused by a family friend, and her recollections of that day alternate with sunnier ones of their endless roughhousing and joking. When Liam drowned himself, with a tide of "blood, sea water and whiskey" running in his veins, he took Veronica's sense of purpose with him. Inconsolable, and suffering from insomnia, she spends her evenings driving and writing, trying to come to terms with the fact that "someone you love is dead, and the world is full of people you don't." Enright's hypnotic prose turns her desperation into something fierce and beautiful. Wilkinson, Joanne --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Reviewing for dummies on Dec 26 2007
Format: Paperback
One that requires more than one reading with which to fully come to grips. There's a lot going on here, about family, about the ties that bind, about the fact we can never escape the past. Everyone will not like this book, it's too grim and rambling and unfocussed for that, but I did. The story, which is set in Dublin, revolves around Veronica Hegarty, a 30-something wife and mother, who has escaped the clutches of her huge Irish Catholic family She has eight siblings and suffers hardships when her brother, Liam, kills himself. Closest to him in age, Veronica is the one who must pick up the pieces and bring back his body from England, where he drowned himself off Brighton Beach.

The first-person narrative is told in a stream-of-consciousness manner from Veronica's perspective. She flits backwards and forwards in time, exploring her family's dark history. She goes as far back as her grandparent's generation as she tries to unravel the story. During the course of the book, which spans Liam's death through to his funeral, Veronica traces the history of the family. But through this we glimpse Veronica's obsessions and see how her personality has been slightly damaged by her rough-and-tumble crowded childhood. Her pain and her anguish is never expressed to the outside world (she cannot even communicate with her husband), but is buried deep inside where it finds expression in Veronica's self-loathing. If nothing else, The Gathering is a portrait of a lost woman coming to grips with her past, her present and her future.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 30 2008
Format: Paperback
. . . writes Veronica, the narrator of this unusual family saga, in the opening pages, ... "night thoughts, the sudden convictions, that uncertainty spawns." It will be important for us, the readers, to keep this in mind as we get increasingly drawn into Anne Enright's award-winning novel. While it is a family saga of sorts, it is much more a psychological study of a woman in crisis. Written in a straightforward, sometimes witty, conversational tone which later may sometimes prove deceiving, Veronica's thoughts and ruminations move in apparently haphazard fashion from her childhood experiences in the 1960s to the present. The present being some months after the funeral of her brother which brought her together with the rest of the Hegarty clan.

Veronica's crisis centres on Liam, her favourite brother who has died in untoward circumstances. She wants to tell his story, yet finds it difficult to come to terms with who he has become since their intimate childhood years. Did his troubled life commence with an event she recalls observing when she was nine and he eleven at their gran's? Did it actually happen or is her memory playing tricks? Did something happen to her too at that time? In her reminiscences of that carefree long summer holiday with Liam and younger sister Kitty at their grandmother's, a dark cloud was hanging over them. Enright contrasts this special summer with the usual life in the Hegarty family: "Mammy" always pregnant, the father rarely seen around the increasingly large family. Poverty is hinted at in many ways, without being overplayed. Among Vee's shorter or longer introductions of her large family, Ada, the grandmother, stands out as the most important character.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn on Nov. 11 2012
Format: Paperback
Anne Enright is an award-winning Irish author and I reluctantly stoop to my first one-star result. Unfavourable reactions don't mean there's no talent, as I remarked about two novels by the great Mary Roberts Rinehart. I respectfully concede that feedback needs to come from enjoyment. "The Gathering", 2007 was laborious for me and I forced myself to finish.

I have no trouble following metaphors, flickers between periods, brash tones, peculiar narration, expression with a flourish, anything outside the box. Neither do I mind taking time to reach the crux. I know the power of explaining the root of an outcome, so readers value the impact it has in the future or present. However I disliked how the elements were put together here. Sexuality is important and I enjoy its treatment in books. Although I applaud the effort of this one to present biology bluntly; the musings were bizarre, always seemed out of place, and only resulted in me being disgusted.

If we spilled our guts uncensored, anyone would sound sick in the head. Some fragments made sense: remembering a fly near a deceased Grandparent, the hesitation of his wife to squash it. Otherwise, ugliness and disordered time frames bog you down, if you don't care for any characters. Leaping between all three tenses, even to illustrate why Veronica and Liam functioned as they did; removed the sense of getting anywhere. Absence of chronology harmed the book and after trudging through tangents, the gathering solely occurred in a few pages. This is entirely about Veronica spurting thoughts. It all felt comprised of run-on sentences, none reaching me personally. Anne made some excellent points: we're always going home, or away from it. She's supremely capable of conveying things well. I'm glad for others to enjoy the narration more than I did.
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