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The Gathering Paperback – Mar 20 2008

17 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Vintage Books USA (March 20 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: #1,843,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 25 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 100 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 Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on April 27 2008
Format: Paperback
Enright is one of those writers who has made it her calling in life to understand the intergenerational complexities of the modern family institution. To do this, she writes about awkward and troubling familial relationships that encompass at least three generations. In her stories, it is usually one person who needs to know the answer to the inscrutable, and, invariably, it is that same individual who has to live with the answer. "The Gathering", her latest work, showcases the Hegartys as a modern dysfunctional family who has enormous difficulty coming to grips with its tainted past. Every member, from as far back as three generations, is in a state of denial, or doesn't care, or is constantly hung over or suffering from dementia. However, there is one important exception. The protagonist, Veronica, is a daughter who comes home to Dublin to bury her brother, Liam, who has just committed suicide near Brighton. Everything she encounters during this ordeal flies in the face of who she sees herself as: orderly, passive, submissive, normal and tidy. Her brother was one of those doomed personalities who soaked up a lot of affection from others but never gave anything in return. His mission in life was to destroy himself faster than kind-hearted people like Veronica could build him up. During the week of the wake, Veronica goes on a search to discover what caused Liam to become self-destructive. She fights through constant distractions and disruptions to find what has caused her extended family - the heart of her existence till now - to become unglued. What she discovers is a dissolution of a relationship that likely started years ago with Liam being sexually abused by a border living with the Hegartys.Read more ›
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