Saturday, June 21, 2008


The Gathering, Anne Enright, Grove/Atlantic Inc, 2007, 261 pp

This dark novel won the Booker Prize in 2007. I liked it pretty well because the writing is great. The story however is not too original: a woman's brother commits suicide, she gathers with her family, re-lives her childhood and uncovers hidden incidents to make sense of her brother's death. In fact, it was the same story told in Mary Morris's The Waiting Room, though much better written.

Really it is a story of abuse and how that poisons a family. Veronica, the sister, is a woman who rose out of the pit of her family only to become somewhat unhinged when her brother dies. But she comes through all sorts of grief, denial and fear of life, so there is hope in the end. Clearly a message is being sent here that what families sweep under the carpet will come back to haunt them. Also she does an excellent job of showing how children cannot make sense of many things in childhood but can unravel those confusions as adults.

We discussed the book at one of the reading groups I attend and not many liked it at all. For those women it was way too heavy and upsetting. I think they had their own issues of denial going on.

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