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The Gathering: Book summary and reviews of The Gathering by Anne Enright

The Gathering

by Anne Enright

The Gathering by Anne Enright X
The Gathering by Anne Enright
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  • Published Sep 2007
    272 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

Anne Enright is a dazzling writer of international stature and one of Ireland’s most singular voices. Now she delivers The Gathering, a moving, evocative portrait of a large Irish family and a shot of fresh blood into the Irish literary tradition, combining the lyricism of the old with the shock of the new.

The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan are gathering in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother, Liam, drowned in the sea. His sister, Veronica, collects the body and keeps the dead man company, guarding the secret she shares with him—something that happened in their grandmother’s house in the winter of 1968.

As Enright traces the line of betrayal and redemption through three generations her distinctive intelligence twists the world a fraction and gives it back to us in a new and unforgettable light. The Gathering is a daring, witty, and insightful family epic, clarified through Anne Enright’s unblinking eye. It is a novel about love and disappointment, about how memories warp and secrets fester, and how fate is written in the body, not in the stars.

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Book Awards

  • award image Booker Prize, 2007

Reviews

Media Reviews

"A melancholic love and rage bubbles just beneath the surface of this Dublin clan, and Enright explores it unflinchingly." - Publishers Weekly.

"Starred Review. Enright's hypnotic prose turns her desperation into something fierce and beautiful." - Booklist.

"In a word: heavy. Or so you might think. But in this mystery of past causes, the transformative power of Enright's language keeps the story's freight from burdening the reader." - New York Times.

"A dreamy, melancholy swirl of a story, wise about the bonds and burdens linking children to each other and their grown selves." - Kirkus Reviews.

"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." - Newsday.

"Delivers with sharp wit and a huge heart." - Elle.

This information about The Gathering was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Cathryn Conroy

Extraordinary, Lyrical Writing, but a Dark and Desolate Story That Is Just So Very Sad
Oh, this book is dark. Very, very dark. It is about dying and grief—grief in the myriad ways that the deaths of those we love bruise the human psyche. Adding to the complexity of the story, the death in question is a suicide, which means the "why" will never be answered and that question will forever niggle in the hearts of those left to pick up the pieces.

The story, which takes place primarily in a small town outside Dublin, Ireland, is narrated by 39-year-old Veronica, who has just learned that her beloved brother, Liam, who was a scant 11 months older than she, committed suicide by walking into the sea with stones in his pocket. Veronica and Liam are two of 12 children in a troubled and dysfunctional Irish family—so troubled that at one point in their childhoods, Veronica, Liam, and their younger sister Kitty were sent to live with their grandmother for a year. It was during that time that something horrific happened to Liam, which most likely leads to his subsequent alcoholism and eventual suicide. But that is only the surface of the story. It is Veronica's colorful and often bizarre memories, including many about her grandparents that she freely admits she makes up as a way to comfort herself, as well as her intense grief for Liam's life and death that is the crux of this 2007 Man Booker Award-winning novel by Anne Enright.

This is a story about the indelible ties of family, the heartbreak of death and the forever separation it causes, the healing power as well as the shame and futility of sex, the inherent wounds of old secrets, the ongoing scourge of abuse, and most of all how these all merge together like modeling clay to shape and form us into our very selves.

While the writing is extraordinary with some sentences so lyrical that they demand to be read over again, the story is just so incredibly sad and desolate I found it difficult to keep reading at times.

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Author Information

Anne Enright Author Biography

Photo: Hugo Chaloner

Anne Enright is author of seven novels, most recently Actress. She has been awarded the Man Booker Prize, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish Book Awards. She lives in Dublin.

Other books by Anne Enright at BookBrowse

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