Gathering Paperback – Mar 1 2008
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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.)
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*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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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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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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Anne Enright writes in the great Irish tradition of storytelling. She tells a great story and tells it well.Published 5 months ago by Gerald FitzGerald
As usual, Ms. Enright's writing is superb - had me glued to my chair. A beautiful read.Published 6 months ago by G. Hardy
As with The Green Road, Anne Enright writes brilliantly and insightfully. Her characters are fascinating. Be warned, though. Irish dark pervades throughout. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Janet Finlay
260 pages of blah, blah, blah.
I am not a huge fan of the Nothing Happens literary genre, but some such books, such as Bel Canto, are well-written and compelling. Read more
HAVE JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK TO PRESENT AT BOOK GROUP. There is no doubt the writing is very skilled and I repect the right of the author to write what moves her at that moment,... Read morePublished on Jan. 25 2009 by NTS book club B
`The Gathering' happens because Liam Hegarty dies suddenly. Through the words of his beloved sister Veronica who collects his body and organizes the funeral, we learn the tale of... Read morePublished on Nov. 14 2008 by ELI (Italy)
Considering all the rave reviews and prizes this book has received, I was expecting great things when it was lent to me by a friend. I was in for a big disappointment! Read morePublished on Sept. 24 2008 by Bethann McLaren
This book is more suitable for a university class, but as something to bring with you on the beach, STAY AWAY. Long, difficult and pointless, I wouldn't recommend this book.Published on Sept. 15 2008 by F. Laforge