Blending past and present, childhood and struggling maturity, death and earthy life, The Gathering traces Veronica Hegarty's journey back to her family home for the funeral of her brother Liam, an alcoholic who suicided in the sea at Brighton. His mother and eight of the nine surviving Hegarty children gather in Dublin for his wake. Veronica, the novel's narrator looks through her family's troubled history to try to make sense of his death and uncovers uncomfortable truths about her family.
Comments from Groups
All really enjoyed it. Lovely use of language. One member enjoyed it even more as it was her second reading of it. Auckland 020
A wide variety of opinions from a 'brilliant story" to a 'boring read'. Many thought the writing was excellent, but not easy to follow with the story moving backwards and forwards. Palmerston North 012
Mostly enthusiastic but a few found it bleak. We had an excellent discussion, especially about sexual abuse, and the amazing literary output of the Irish. Wellington 178
Harrowing and haunting story, not light reading. Very dark family life. Despite not really liking the style of writing, a group of us kept reading as were intrigued by the storyline and wanted to find out how it ended. Auckland 134
The writing style was hard to read, but the subject was interesting and provoked a lot of discussion. New Plymouth 014
Too dark and dreary. One or two enjoyed the irony. We felt that the quality of the writing outweighed the darkness of the tale. Excellent discussion. Christchurch 064
While several of our group found this a difficult book to read, as the discussion went on we came to appreciate its strengths. It explores the way that children pay the price for adults' frailities. Everyone admitted that they had to keep reading to find out what happened. Lower Hutt 004
Although we appreciated her 'way with words', we did not enjoy her language and seeming obsession with sex. The story was rather disjointed.
Opinions varied. Most of us admired the writing but felt some dissatisfaction with the story progression, especially the second half of the book.
On the whole the group did not like the book -although it generated a great deal of discussion. Everyone acknowledged the quality of the writing.
The book was intelligent and easy to read. No dissent that it was a good book, but not much discussion followed.
A number of members didn't complete this book. One member likes Anne Enright's writing style. A number of people struggled to be captured by the story or the main characters.
It was quite divisive; I personally loved it, such skilled writing! People who liked a straightforward narrative didn't like it, but the complexity, for me and some others, was what made it so engaging.
Some members of this reading group commented on how well-written, immersive and raw 'The Gathering' was, but others found the grimness and introspection of Catholic family life just too depressing and didn't complete the reading.
This month's book was chosen by one of our serious readers,it was enjoyed by some while others found it difficult and did not finish. It was an interesting read in that there were a number of ways in which the central character - Veronica - could be viewed, she was seen as hard and wanting, through to being deeply depressed and on the verge of a breakdown. This promoted a strong discussion on how she perceived the other characters and the events that occurred throughout the story. Anne Enright's strong descriptive style of writing made for a provocative and thought provoking read. Recommended.
Interesting reading the other reviews. We had 8 available to read this book, 5 read it and the other 3 didn't even finish it. None of us liked it, nor would recommend it to anyone else to read. Didn't like the style of writing at all and although the subject matter was horrible it was more than that - just the style and way it was written. Only one said she was pleased she had read it, even though she didn't like it. I think this is the first time we have all agreed and thought the same about a book - this is exactly why book club is so good. Look at all the different opinions!