The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother Liam. It wasn't the drink that killed him - although that certainly helped - it was what happened to him as a boy in his grandmother's house, in the winter of 1968. His sister Veronica was there then, as she is now: keeping the dead man company, just for another little while. The Gathering is a family epic, condensed and clarified through the remarkable lens of Anne Enright's unblinking eye. It is also a sexual history: ...
The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother Liam. It wasn't the drink that killed him - although that certainly helped - it was what happened to him as a boy in his grandmother's house, in the winter of 1968. His sister Veronica was there then, as she is now: keeping the dead man company, just for another little while. The Gathering is a family epic, condensed and clarified through the remarkable lens of Anne Enright's unblinking eye. It is also a sexual history: tracing the line of hurt and redemption through three generations - starting with the grandmother, Ada Merriman - showing how memories warp and family secrets fester. This is a novel about love and disappointment, about thwarted lust and limitless desire, and how our fate is written in the body, not in the stars. The Gathering sends fresh blood through the Irish literary tradition, combining the lyricism of the old with the shock of the new. As in all Anne Enright's work, fiction and non-fiction, this is a book of daring, wit and insight: her distinctive intelligence twisting the world a fraction, and giving it back to us in a new and unforgettable light.
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I haven't yet read most of the other books shortlisted for the Booker Prize, so I won't make a claim as to whether or not The Gathering deserved it. What I can say is that Enright's style is exquisite, and she perfectly portrays the way old wounds and memories come back to haunt us in times of grief and stress. This book won't be for everyone; it's not exactly a feel-good novel. But if you are looking for a book that provides insight into family dynamics and the workings of the human mind and memory, you might enjoy it.
Oct 4, 2007
fine writing, but just didn't grab me
Well, I really hate to be blunt, but I might as well get this out. Booker prize material? I don't think so. The Gathering is a fine story about a woman trying to cope after the suicide of her brother. She begins to look back in her life and in that of her rather large Irish family to find out why her brother, the two of them only 11 months apart, would have taken turns in life that led to his death.
The writing is quite good, but I seriously couldn't wrap my head around this book; it really failed to grab me as did the other Booker nominees I've read so far.
I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys stories about grief and coping with loss; it is an incredibly bleak kind of novel,though, so if you're looking for a feel-good kind of read, stay away.
I don't know...maybe it's just me but I just couldn't really embrace this novel. Maybe others will enjoy it much more than I did.
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