Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2007
Regarded as one of her country's foremost voices, Irish author Anne Enright makes a fresh mark on a rich literary tradition. The Gathering is a deeply insightful family saga, steeped in secrets and intrigue, unfolding over three generations.
©2007 Anne Enright; (P)2008 Recorded Books
"Enright's hypnotic prose turns...desperation into something fierce and beautiful." (Booklist)
"A melancholic love and rage bubbles just beneath the surface of this Dublin clan, and Enright explores it unflinchingly." (Publishers Weekly)
This book has received a lot of negative ratings. I agree it is not a book for everyone's tastes. It's not an easy listen, but the narration is perfect. I loved the book. I felt like I was inside Veronica's confused and guilt-ridden head... experiencing all the twists and turns that happen when trying to make sense of things after a tragedy, on top of a lifetime of hurt. I will go back and listen again.
This book is so unrelentingly dreary that I can't find one good thing to say about it. Not one character had any appeal to me. I am so sick of reading about drunks and their devestating effects on children. I can't imagine how this book won any prize whatsoever. The only good thing I can say is that the reader successfully intoned, in a monotonic haze of despair, both the tone and content of this book. I hated it so much, it makes me mad.
This story was so depressing I could not finish listening to it. The characters are uniformly sad and grim, without a trace of wit to lighten the mood. The pacing too is agonizingly slow, focusing on minute detail to the exclusion of action. The author appears capable of something better than this book's unrelenting theme of grief and loss.
Anne Enright is a masterful, funny, nuanced, sly writer who sees what most others miss: the fine details, the incredible range of human emotion. Fabulous book to read with gorgeous language and a somewhat flawed structure. But stellar for the language alone. To listen? This recording kills the story right out of the gate. If I were the author I'd be dismayed. Terry Donnelly rings one note throughout: rage. It sounds like one long rageful rant, in fact, making it unlistenable. There's incredible tension in the book itself, but it comes not from rage but an extraordinary range of emotion. The reader missed it all. The character would have a right to be this enraged throughout, but she feels many things: from amusement and delight to sadness and grief--with humor! As it turns out, the reader missed all this leaving no room for discovery. And rendering this unlistenable. Who wants to listen to someone rage for many hours in a row? (Who wants to listen to someone rage unless it's righteously earned? And even then, for how long?) Enright didn't write an angry diatribe, though you wouldn't know it from trying to listen to this.
The book itself.
I'm sorry to be so dismissive here, but Terry Donnelly missed the point entirely and ruins access to a noteworthy story. There is nothing nuanced in her read.
Was there anyone directing the reader? Anne Enright was a radio journalist in the past. Did she hear how this was read before it was released? Did she get any say in the matter?
Family, Irish, Generations
The flow of familial ties from generation to generation - the sense of time and blood ties flowing like a river without beginning or end.
The wake - recognizing Liam's child.
It appears some listeners are put off by the darkness of the book. As a survivor of family suicide I can say the book is spot on about the aftermath of suicide. It is dark, but charmingly Irish, and relieved by the dark humor so essential to surviving family tragedies. The narrator is a gifted actress and made the story authentic and more enjoyable.
This book was beautifully written. But a real sleeper. I just kept waiting and waiting for the plot to go somewhere. But it NEVER did. Maybe someone with more of an interest in psychotherapy might relate but I found the main character very narcissistic and not even in an interesting way. I would not recommend this book to most readers.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
This book is dreadful. When you're 6 hours into it and you don't care what happens to the characters, there's a problem. The narrator reads at an incredibly slow pace. I just want to get the sound of it out of my ears. This book needs to go on a list called "Waste of a Credit."
After two hours I had to admit defeat--the story still hadn't begun to take off. The narrator within the story (Veronica?) was not one with whom I could empathize. It might eventually have gotten better, but I don't have enough years left in my life to find out.
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
“I do not think we remember our family in any real sense. We live in them instead”
― Anne Enright, The Gathering
I grabbed a couple of my Irish writers to read while traveling back and forth to Ireland for pleasure. Ha. Pleasure. The Irish know how to feck, fight and die. Oh, and write.
Both novels centered around drownings, death, and memory. Both were Man Booker Prize winners (born two years apart). Both were very different looks back. Banville's The Sea was more poetic, more soothing; a search for the correct word, the proper memory. 'The Gathering' was angrier. It was a picked scab, a hot wound, a shout into a dark wet cave; tea without sugar or cream, aged whiskey without the water. Banville's novel was almost elegiac and poetic in its mourning. Enright's was a primal, woman scream. It was less of a memory than an imagined history, a search for meaning in loss, a desperate search for who and why in family.
'The Gathering' was very good, just not great. I'm almost apologetic about making Enright's novel seem an Irish twin to Banville's. It is a bit unfair. She deserves to have her book examined alone. But the themes, the Irishness, the Man Bookered. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore Man Booker hath joined together, let not man put asunder. I have hung the seabird of the second read, second published, around her book. Oh well, life moves forward and so do reviews and cranky critics.
I'm not sure why but ultimately, I think I was not convinced of the authenticity of the main character, Veronica. Do people really think like that? Has Enright really captured the careering collapse of the mind of the grieving woman? Essentially, this is a "blame-the-past" story. The suicide of Veronica's brother goes back two generations to the household of her grandmother and trauma of the family. The whole dysfunction of a family (3 children, 12 grandchildren, and a few of the next generation mentioned along the way as well). All of this is narrated through the flawed and unreliable mind of Veronica, who goes into depression and starts to invent possible explanations, some of which may be true, but she doesn't know. The book takes a hopeful turn near the end and really it gets more interesting as it goes, but even at the end I found the character of Veronica problematic and unconvincing.
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