paris2002, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by paris2002)
To my mind the work of a compartmentalized mind: acute psychological perception on the one hand and bizarre dissociation on the other, making for a disturbing story by a woman I'd love to break bread with, out of admiration and sheer curiosity.
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Elizabeth L, January 25, 2010 (view all comments by Elizabeth L)
Anyone who is mildly familiar with Irish literature (or literary tropes) will recognize the themes of Enright's novel: Catholicism, alcoholism, English antagonism, and the like. However, Enright brings something new to these familiar subjects: a female protagonist. Furthermore, she invests her with a deity-like ability to hearken forward and backward across the "real time" of the novel, recalling moments both from her own childhood as well as her grandparents' with a command as fantastic as it is affective. (I was reminded of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, where certain narrators are given the ability to describe they couldn't have possibly witnessed as if they were, in fact, right there.) Though the narrative's momentum (perhaps due to its constant jumps through time) lags at points, what emerges is a vivid portrait of the horrors of family, the powers of memory, and the inevitability of repetition and return. I remember this novel being a controversial pick when it won the Booker Prize in 2007, but I was continually impressed by its power to render old themes in a new way while simultaneously feeling representative of its cultural and literary roots.
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JebJab, December 31, 2008 (view all comments by JebJab)
I've got to agree with madelaine support on this one. Except I'm not even giving this book one star. I have maybe 20 pages left until the end. "The Gathering" will make my top ten list, but it will be the top ten all time worst books I've ever read. Mercy me.
I'm also of Irish ancestry and have always loved books about Ireland and my people. This book is so mired in self-pity and perceived tragedies (her grandparent's invented history) I find it hard to believe that it isn't from a vanity press. The book jumps from one point to the other without segue and is hardly more than a study in a housewife's discontent with life in general.
Save yourselves some time and money folks. Don't bother.
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Bianca, December 10, 2007 (view all comments by Bianca)
The family described by Enright is problematic, hate-love relationships that exist in many families, well hidden in the past, but more and more spoken off openly in modern times. Under Emright’s talented pen the characters come easily to life.
What bothered me is the wide use of vulgarities, a too extensive use of words like "fucking" and "piss", not always needed in the text, and which make one wander if Enright has succumbed to the modern trend of feeling the need to shock.
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StephenWright, November 27, 2007 (view all comments by StephenWright)
This is a complicated book, 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!!! I would also recommend, if you missed reading TINO GEORGIOU'S masterpiece--THE FATES, go and read it. With fascinating and brilliantly created characters in `THE FATES' coupled with two intertwining plots makes for a completely enjoyable and page-turning read.
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Black Cat -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Colm Toibin, author of The Master and Mothers and Sons,
"Anne Enright's style is as sharp and brilliant as Joan Didion's; the scope of her understanding is as wide as Alice Munro's; her sympathy for her characters is as tender and subtle as Alice McDermott's; her vision of Ireland is as brave and original as Edna O'Brien's. The Gathering is her best book."
"In the supercharged beauty of her oddly brittle, spiky sentences, you hear the cadences of the incomparable Don DeLillo....The penetrating exploration of domestic relationships, especially among women, calls to mind...Anne Tyler."
"Delivers with sharp wit and a huge heart."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"A dreamy, melancholy swirl of a story, wise about the bonds and burdens linking children to each other and their grown selves."
by Library Journal,
"While readers won't be drawn to the characters, anyone who perseveres will find a story of harsh redemption and of a future found in a child's blue eyes."
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