The Gathering
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The Gathering

2.97 of 5 stars 2.97  ·  rating details  ·  11,200 ratings  ·  2,096 reviews
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 D...more
Paperback, 261 pages
Published September 10th 2007 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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karen

this book was very frustrating. i feel like i should love it, but it's like there is a barrier - a chastity belt between us preventing our love, and as much as i want it, it isn't going to happen for us. there is a quality to her writing that reminded me of what i loved or housekeeping, books i am also told i am supposed to love, but just can't feel anything for, like distant relations. she is a less antiseptic writer than hustvedt, though. i respect her prose - there are lines in here of amazin...more
Sammy
Please excuse me as I make a noise of annoyance, disgust, boredom and all around dissatisfaction... UGHARGHHHHUHHH. Don't even know how to spell that or if it makes any sense. Hey, that makes a nice segue into my review.

Let me start with the one perk I can honestly give this book. Anne Enright has a beautiful grasp of words but she doesn't know how to use them. She also had a wonderful gem of an idea for a story, but she didn't know how to develop it. Combine those two together you get a reader...more
Jason Pettus
(My full review of this book is larger than Goodreads' word-count limit. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

As a book critic, I of course try to steer clear of any information I can about a book I'm about to review, until I'm done with the book myself and have already made up my mind about what I thought; so imagine my surpris...more
Brian
This book actually angered me, and I think this paragraph sums up why:

"I know, as I write these... that they require me to deal in facts. It is time to call an end to romance and just say what happened in Ada's house, the year that I was eight and Liam was barely nine."

That passage occurs about halfway through the book. The preceding pages are an endless series of shapeless ponderings on what may or may not have happened. The narrator leaps from one era to the next, with the basic point being "S...more
Lisa
When I see that some people have given this book five stars, I start to question my own sanity. For me, the book had wonderful potential when I took it off the shelf and the Booker Award sticker only reinforced my impression that this would be a great read: WRONG. Wonderful words strung together does not a good story make. The narrator is completely two-dimensional as written and I was unable to connect with her or her perspective in any way. Yes, I understand the woman's "beloved" brother fell...more
Paul
CELEBRITY DEATH MATCH

Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Tonight's contest from the palatial surroundings of Monkstown Boxing Club here in Dun Laoghaire is to decide who is to represent the Republic of Ireland in the 2012 London Olympics Most Miserable Contemporary Novelist event.

(Scattered applause from the twenty or so people in the audience)

In the blue corner, we have Anne Enright

(Anne gets up tiredly from her chair in the corner and raises her hands on which giant gloves have been tied - she...more
Philip
Anne Enright’s The Gathering deserves every ounce of praise it has received, and perhaps a bit more. It’s a family history of the Hegartys, told by Veronica after the death of her brother, Liam. So, and therefore, it is a wake, a stream of consciousness response to bereavement. There are more than shades of Molly Bloom here, as Veronica recounts intimate details of her own and her relatives’ ultimately inconsequential lives. And despite its obvious – and necessary – preoccupation with death and...more
Alice
I bought this book because I once again fell for Borders' Buy-1-Get-1-50%-Off deal. I needed a 2nd book, and this one won the Man Booker Prize in 2007. Hell, I thought, it can't be that bad.

Well, it wasn't terrible, but once again, I was deathly bored. More and more, I find myself very annoyed at authors who use the carrot-on-a-stick opening shtick (e.g. "OMG, you guys! Something HORRIBLE happened at my grandmother's house in 1968!! Now you've got to read this to find out what it was!!!! LOL!!!"...more
Yulia
Another Booker Prize winner that is so besotted with its ambiguity and ephemeral nature that it is entirely forgettable and endlessly frustrating. Please, no more showing off how one can see without seeing, live without living, or know without knowing. Tell a story! Don't give me a magic show.
·Karen·
Take Two:

I'm afraid a re-read is not going to persuade me to add a star, I still can't 'like' this, sorry.The brick wall smash arrived at exactly the same point as the first time round: page 131. Veronica muses on faith and saints, mentioning that her brother Liam liked "three Roman saints with funny names who were turned upside down and had milk and mustard put up their noses, which killed them, apparently. It didn't seem to bother Kitty, as I recall." Kitty, as one might imagine, is the little...more
Fiona
Feb 26, 2008 Fiona rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the bereaved
Shelves: books-i-loved
This is the best novel about grief and bereavement that I have read.

Enright captures the peculiar relationship of close siblings perfectly. It is not about love - you don't "love" a close sibling just as you don't "love" your arm. They are a part of you. When they die, you are broken. It is a hard, bitter, angry book because the grief you feel when a close sibling dies is a hard, bitter anger. An anger that is as close to madness as makes no difference. Grief colours everything, and makes everyt...more
Trevor
This was the only book on the Booker short list that I did not want to read. When it won, I was disappointed because I thought it looked too much like Banville's The Sea, and I did not enjoy my time with that book. However, I thought I needed to give The Gathering a shot. No, I was not pleasantly surprised.
Enright's The Gathering may have a some inciteful, well written sentences, and it may be well structured both in sequence and theme, but for what purpose? I did not feel that the structure wa...more
Shovelmonkey1
Jan 09, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like the lyrics but not the story
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
This is a book which needs to be read and appreciated, not for the story but for the finely crafted, lyrical text. The story itself seemed to be a moderately predictable and stereotypical tale and I think I almost guessed the deep rooted reason for the suicide before the idea of looking for a possible cause had even hit the ground and started running. An impressively large Irish family gathers to mourn the passing of one of their siblings and history, as it is want to do at these kind of events,...more
K
Jul 09, 2008 K rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K by: margueya
Another one for the growing life-is-just-too-short pile. This book was draggy and depressing, and I didn't get a whole lot out of it. What were those Booker judges thinking?

First of all, while I would be the last person to minimize molestation, its prevalence, and its traumatic effects, it has really become a literary cliche: young child of a dysfunctional family living in a less enlightened place and/or time is molested, no one ever finds out/addresses it properly, young child is psychologicall...more
Soumen Daschoudhury
Jul 29, 2014 Soumen Daschoudhury rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like madness in the writings
Shelves: 2014-reads, booker
The glaring rays of the sun are such a delight today; it’s a warm afternoon. It’s been raining unceasingly for the last two days and I can see the coconut tree in my backyard in its shadow, in its reflection in the small puddle that hasn't dried up yet and in itself of course A small beautiful yellow butterfly with a dab of black flits playfully among the branches; now she is here, now she is not.

I follow her aimless path and I wonder what makes this beautiful being so restless, is there a purpo...more
Laura
An Irish woman's brother dies. She is obsessed with sex (or, more accurately, with penises) and mumbles to herself about something (maybe death, maybe sex, maybe family -- it's awfully hard to say) for 250 pages.

While my summary of this self-indulgent mess of a book is obviously meant to be facetious, it's not far off. Enright's narrator really doesn't have anything to say, nor does Enright give us any reason that we should want to hear her say it. We're supposed to be interested in the narrato...more
Lucy
I remember walking through the Guggenheim Museum and stopping at an exhibit called "White Canvas" or something like that. For all I know, somebody bought a blank canvas, realized they had no talent with painting but a knack for knowing what passes for cool and sold the idea to the powers that be of art. Or, perhaps it is actually art. I have no degree or expertise in that area, but a white canvas doesn't look like art to me.

Likewise, someone, Anne Engright in this case, writes a confusing and mu...more
Molly Des Jardin
In terms of writing, characterization, and the exploration of memory - this is among the best books I have read, period.

I am not a grieving middle-aged woman with a large family who has lost her brother to suicide. But the strong and accurate portrayal of alienation, loss, and grief - and the way people deal with these things in ways that are erratic, self-destructive, confusing, and unpredictable and illogical even to themselves - had me finding myself identifying with the narrator much more fr...more
Barb
Amazing It Could Win Any Award, Let Alone the Man Booker Prize.

This was another selection from my book club. We affectionately refer to it as the 'bad book club' because we have chosen some really bad, awful, horrid, ghastly books and this one is right up there with the worst of the worst as far as I'm concerned.

I guess you either get Anne Enright or you don't and I don't. If this had been some sort of cathartic memoir like Joan Didion's 'Year of Magical Thinking' I could have given the author...more
Kevin
It's been said that Sigmund Freud said of the Irish "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever."
After reading the Gathering you can begin to understand why. The Irish seem to be haunted not only by guilt and shame, but by the ghosts of their dead relatives as well. Here's a particularly telling passage from the novel :

" I know I sound bitter, and Christ I wish I wasn't such a hard bitch sometimes, but my brother blamed me for twenty years or more. He blamed me fo...more
Shane
I felt I wasted my time with this book; for all it did was introduce me to a dysfunctional family (aren’t all families dysfunctional?), and then leave me at a crossroads where nothing is resolved. The reader is free to write his own ending.

Veronica is a fortyish female from a large Irish Catholic family, who is having a meltdown in the wake of brother Liam’s suicide a la Virginia Woolfe (stones in pockets and all!). Liam’s death brings on the ghost of a secret the two shared since childhood, and...more
Anna
If I wasn’t so curious about the secret, I would’ve stopped reading early on. Enright’s writing isn’t bad; I like the way her words flow, and I like her use of a first-person narrator to tell the family’s story. Obviously, Veronica isn’t going to be a reliable narrator as she comments about her parents, siblings, grandparents, husband, and children. She’s honest about her feelings for these people, but these feelings cloud her judgment. And we never hear the story from someone else’s point of vi...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 27, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one (Jzhun, good luck!)
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2010 edition)
Shelves: booker, 1001-non-core
"God, I hate my family, these people I never chose to love, but love all the same."

This line, found in the third to the last page of Anne Enright's The Gathering is an example of the many contradictions this novel has. This won the 2007 Man Booker Prize and I can see why. It is different. Ms. Enright has this fondness of contradicting herself not just in a single statement but in paragraphs, in several pages, the whole book and maybe even herself. Mrs. Enright, during the interview upon the anno...more
Blair
Despite all the critical acclaim this book received, I'd heard nothing but negative things from actual readers before beginning it, so I was naturally a bit apprehensive and unsure of what to expect. The story hinges around the suicide of Liam Hegarty, and is narrated by his sister Veronica; now a mother of two young daughters living a comfortable middle-class life, she is haunted by memories of her impoverished childhood in Ireland, and the narrative flips back and forth between the 'gathering'...more
Jimmy
Ah, the gritty summer sidewalks of New York, with all those used paperbacks spread out on the pavement, waiting, like puppies at Bide-a-Wee, for new owners to take care of them! Hard by a corner on the Upper West Side, Anne Enright's "The Gathering" stares up at me with doleful eyes. A perusal of the cover, an absorbing paragraph or two on page one, a quick scan of review excerpts on the back cover, and the additional observation that the author was a 2007 Man Booker laureate, are enough for me...more
Maria Ella
When was the last time I had my orange highlighter when I try to read a fiction? Aahh, David Nicholls - and Emily Bronte.

Anne Enright may not deserve all the love, but this novel of hers deserve a credit. After all, she made a challenge - to assess how true I am in feeling different emotions.

The composition is like puzzle pieces that needs to be put together, piece-by-piece, for you to understand its bigger picture and its message. Chapters are illustrated in one era to another, one generation t...more
Jessica
In The Gathering (winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2007), Anne Enright tells the story of a bitter and bruised family in bitter and bruised prose. I was sucked in for the ride - even though I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to go.

Veronica Hagerty narrates the story about her Irish Catholic family of twelve children. She is particularly concerned with a disturbing event that occurred one summer when she and two of her siblings, Liam and Kitty, are sent to live with their grandmother. Liam ne...more
Hanne
To me, there are two kinds of Booker-Price Winners: the ones I love like Margaret Atwood, or the ones that feel ridiculously elitist. This one kind of goes on the last bucket unfortunately. I really didn’t like the style with its very complicated grammatical structures and very long sentences a-typical for ‘normal’ English. It did feel like the author was trying to prove something. If this wasn’t part of my challenge for this year, I’m not sure I would have finished it.

It did got an awful lot be...more
Galina
Мразя и обичам Ан Ентрайт заради този роман. Мразя я, защото ми показа колко грозни, жалки и лъжливи сме. Защото твърдим, че скърбим за близък човек, а всъщност оплакваме себе си - тези, които бяхме, които можехме да бъдем, които се надявахме да станем и в които се превърнахме. Защото отрича семейството като свята общност - напротив, семейство значи проблеми. Колкото по-голямо семейство, толкова повече грижи.
Защото е права, че когато сме обичани, често се чувстваме притиснати, изправени в ъгъла,...more
Leigh
Sep 06, 2011 Leigh rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Leigh by: wish I knew
I can't think of anyone to whom I'd recommend this book.

Nor can I fathom how it won the Booker Prize.

The Gathering is an incredibly depressing story about a woman named Veronica who returns to her childhood home in Ireland to attend the funeral of her brother Liam. She comes from a large Irish family (12 siblings, 9 of whom are present in this novel), and of course, the relationships there are complicated. There's a Big Family Secret mentioned in the first line of the book, but it's so incredi...more
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Anne Enright is a Booker Prize-winning Irish author.

She has published essays, short stories, a non-fiction book and four novels.

Before her novel The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize, Enright had a low profile in Ireland and the United Kingdom, although her books were favourably reviewed and widely praised.

Her writing explores themes such as family relationships, love and sex, Ireland's di...more
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“People do not change, they are merely revealed.” 38 likes
“There are so few people given us to love. I want to tell my daughters this, that each time you fall in love it is important, even at nineteen. Especially at nineteen. And if you can, at nineteen, count the people you love on one hand, you will not, at forty, have run out of fingers on the other. There are so few people given us to love and they all stick.” 31 likes
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