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The Gathering

3.08  ·  Rating details ·  19,486 ratings  ·  2,993 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 May 3rd 2007)
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Susan It is a hard read at times but full of profundity and had me rigid with tension when I read and reread some her remarks about relationships between me…moreIt is a hard read at times but full of profundity and had me rigid with tension when I read and reread some her remarks about relationships between men and women, men and men, women and men - every layer is there somewhere and occasionally if I blinked I nearly missed some of the jewels in this novel. Huge amount of thinking going on as I read this book on my part(less)
Mrs.Catherine Campbell Yes. I share same thoughts about this book. I could at times, recognise similar feelings and thoughts as described so well by the author, about my own…moreYes. I share same thoughts about this book. I could at times, recognise similar feelings and thoughts as described so well by the author, about my own experiences.(less)

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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
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: d-the-bad
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
These words are imbued with a despair so raw that not even once during the time I was reading this did I feel an ounce of regret envisaging the time the novel drew to its inevitable conclusion. In fact I was eager for it to be over, for the narrator to stop pouring forth her endless stream of inchoate conjectures and unsavoury insinuations. Prior to this, I have slogged my way through Vollmann's 800-page behemoth (The Royal Family) which, despite its uncompromising sincerity and profound sympath ...more
Jun 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Jason Pettus
Apr 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(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 []. 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
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
An intelligent, insightful and thought provoking novel about an Irish family experiencing the loss of a brother and son.

Anne Enright’s 2007 novel that garnered the Man Booker Prize for that year is an enjoyable but sometimes difficult journey in the life of Veronica who has recently lost her brother. Told from the days immediately following his tragic death as well as remembrances from their life together, Enright tells Liam’s story from the perspective of Veronica, his younger sister by about 1
"Because a mother's love is God's greatest joke."

This sentence would make perfect sense to me if we turned it around:

"Because a God's love is mother's greatest joke."

Religion, like family wounds and family love, is something one doesn't shake off easily, and that keeps haunting grown-up people long after they think they have left their origins behind. Even what you forget shapes what you are. And that is all I remember of this novel, which may have left more impact on me than I am aware of. But
I have no idea how to feel about this book, let alone rate it.

For the first half, I was in love with it. I was in love with the writing, which is exceptional, inviting, personal, painful, and *sparkling*. I was squinting with as much derision as confusion, like Clint Eastwood in all of his spaghetti westerns, at all the low ratings.

The book explores grief and the love-hate complications of a big Irish family, who get together for the funeral of Liam, a beloved brother who took his own life. Oh,
Mar 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, i-own-it, ireland
This novel is definitely not for everyone—probably why it has such a low rating here. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. Enright examines grief, guilt, and family trauma so universally in this story, though she uses the lens of one woman, Veronica, to do so. The writing is taut but immersive, and the story unfolds slowly and builds itself back up by the end to delivering a satisfying conclusion that will keep you thinking. I found it to be a dark but not unforgiving story. And though she tackles some ...more
Paul Bryant
May 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned, novels

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
Apr 18, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: repelled-by
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.
Fiona Brichaut
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the bereaved
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
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
“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 still unread, Irish writers to read while traveling back and forth, to and fro from Ireland for pleasure. Ha. Pleasure. The Irish know how to fuck, 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 po
Mar 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2008
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!!!"
Julie Christine
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie Christine by: Maureen
The Gathering bears witness to a modern Ireland—which at the time of its publication in 2007 was the shiny, bright, roaring Celtic Tiger, an economic miracle—that cannot escape its past. It is told in a looping, troubling first-person by Veronica Hegarty, who lives an aimless existence in a detached five-bedroom home in the Dublin suburbs with her two lovely daughters and financier husband Tom. Veronica and Tom, who “moves money around, electronically. Every time he does this, a tiny bit sticks ...more
Okay, this is what I'd label a "Toni Morrison situation." Meaning, this is a highly literary, stream-of-consciousness, well-written novel, filled with characters I don't like and can't relate to, with running themes of incest, molestation, rape, etc.

It's ironic, actually, that I cracked open this 2007 Booker Prize winner right as I've declared "no more Toni Morrison!"

I always feel a little guilty, turning my back on well-written works, but, truly, after page 35, I just couldn't continue. Frank
Oct 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2007
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
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
This is original writing. I particularly admired the way Enright circled her subject, teasing out the material until the moment was right for revelation; it takes a fierce discipline to do that well. I also liked the way she handled the first person narrative. Veronica's voice rings so true. Enright has the knack of going beyond the reader's willing suspension of disbelief. Suspension of disbelief doesn't even come into it. All human life is in her fiction. In fact, it's not fiction at all...
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
The Gathering by Anne Enright

Winner of the 2007 Booker Prize.

Veronica, our protagonist, is responsible for the funeral arrangements for her troubled brother, Liam, who has committed suicide. We find this out ten pages into the novel. The police interviews, identification of the body, the wake and then the funeral is the larger event that the title of the book refers to. The surviving siblings of this very large Irish Catholic family are all adults now. Dad has passed away and mom is suffering f
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Jun 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, book-club
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
Feb 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  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
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
Feb 03, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, memory, uk, ireland
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
Sidharth Vardhan
To be honest the prose does reflect the despair of a grieved person. What is despair? But confusion created when we lose all consciousness control in face of a tragedy - and, the prose is confusing for sure. The narrator's stream of consciousness is often alternating, like the chapters, between past and present. Yet it was too big to do justice to its centeral theme. Theme of dealing with loss of a loved one.
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Reading 1001: The Gathering by Anne Enright 3 11 Jun 20, 2020 08:05AM  
A potrait of a large Irish family 7 91 Apr 05, 2013 01:37AM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. a woman who finds out/remembers a dark family secret after her brother dies [s] 2 23 Feb 15, 2012 06:08PM  
The Reader's Den 1 24 Oct 05, 2009 06:23PM  
Constant Reader 60 156 Mar 21, 2009 11:01PM  

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Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works. She has published three volumes of stories, one book of nonfiction, and five novels. In 2015, she was named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction. Her novel The Gathering won the Man Booker Prize, and The Forgotten Waltz won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

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