Book Review: The Gathering

The Gathering

Anne Enright

Grove Press

272 pages

I don’t generally put much stock into Amazon ratings.  I especially didn’t in this case–the Amazon ratings in the case is only three stars. Well, maybe I should pay a little more attention to those ratings, because in this case they were spot on.

The Gathering is the story of Veronica Hegarty–a middle aged woman who lives in Dublin and is mourning the death of her older brother Liam.  She is battling against an intolerable mother and a husband she is bored with.  As the story unfolds, we are told more and more about the situation that stems from Liam and Veronica’s childhood.

I loved this book from the very first paragraph.  Literally.  I read the first paragraph numerous times and even made my fiance listen to me read it aloud.

I would like to write down what happened in my grandmother’s house the summer I was eight or nine, but I am not sure if it really did happen.  I need to bear witness to an incertain event.  I feel it roaring inside me–this thing that may not have taken place.  I don’t even know what name to put on it.  I think you may call it a crime of the flech, but the flesh has long fallen away and I am not sure what hurt may linger in the bones.

I was utterly captivated, but it didn’t last long.  The story was a good one and the prose were masterful as well, but the story started meandering and I eventually got bored with it.  I have seen some reviews that ascribe the problem to Veronica’s lack of honesty (whether it be conscientious or not) but that factor actually fascinated me.  I love being able to openly question the narrator and I loved that Veronica was open with the fact that we shouldn’t trust her.

The Gathering seemed to just fizzle out.  With such a great premise (who doesn’t love family drama and secrets) and the kind of talent Enright has, it is almost unbelievable that I didn’t love this book, but the construction of the novel fell flat.

I read this book for the Man Booker Challenge.

Other Reviews:

Asylum

Booklit

Shelf Life

Reading Matters

A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook

S Krishna’s Books

another cookie crumbles

Boston Bibliophile

Caribou’s Mom

1 More Chapter

I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble

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10 Responses

  1. was this a booker winner? It sounds so disappointing.

  2. sorry to read you were disappointed, especially since I plan to read this one myself for this challenge. I loved your honest review.

  3. I loved The Gathering! I shouldn’t have, as it is so quiet and there isn’t much plot, but for some reason I was captivated by it. Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy it. I hope you enjoy your next booker winner more.

  4. I hate it when books fizzle out like that.

  5. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve picked this one up at the bookstore and then set it back down. Sounds like the setting it back down part was the wise thing to do!

  6. The covers must be similar because I always confuse this one with The Giver, which I think I have. I’ve seen this one around and I haven’t felt enticed to pick it up. Did they make it into a movie? It seems familiar somehow.

  7. I read Enright’s collection of short stories (Tomorrow’s Weather) and loved them – you are correct, her writing is masterful.

    I have wanted to read The Gathering but the storyline seemed so grim and dark. Now that i hear that it also fizzles, I might pass on it altogether!

  8. I hated this book. I hate saying that, but, it just seemed so pointless, and I just didn’t have the will to turn the page once I hit p79.

    Sorry – that’s a terribly harsh comment, but, it does sum up how I feel about the book, and don’t feel totally guilty as can see you didn’t really rate it that highly either. 🙂 Sorry – better luck on the next one! That’s what I said when I put The Gathering down.

  9. I will use Amazon ratings if there are a bunch of them … I figure if you have 100+ reviews, it will average out and give you a fairly good idea of what a “true” rating might be.

  10. How disappointing…especially since it started with such promise.

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