The Gathering The Gathering discussion


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A potrait of a large Irish family

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message 1: by Karen (new)

Karen Fink This book won the Man Booker Prize in 2007. It is very well written It is a sad story of three generations of an Irish family with all of the hurts and disappointments that are depicted by many of the Irish writers.


Henry I battled to connect with this book. I battled to sympathise with the protagonist or any other character in the novel. Hopefully seeing other opinions on the novel would help to change my mind.


Shannon I agree with you. I wanted to like this book and feel a connection but it never happened. I understood it - just didn't feel it.


message 4: by Robin (new)

Robin I read this book twice for two separate discussion groups. No one in either group could stand the book. On a sentence-by-sentence level, the prose could be beautiful. But the characters ranged from enigmatic to repulsive, and there was no plot to speak of.

I do wonder what GoodReaders make of the ending. Was it happy? Is Veronica going to return to her family and resume life as it was before Liam's suicide? And was her dithering througout the book merely a consequence of that suicide, or was she that way all the time?


message 5: by Cazna (last edited Sep 25, 2011 11:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cazna I am now re-reading this book because I enjoyed it so much. Her use of phrase is very intuitive and although I am of no Irish, I could relate to her thoughts and feelings toward her family. Her almost blind faith and love of her brother is equalled by her anger and revultion of him also. By him killing himself he brings his ghosts to her door.
I wonder if the reason people didn't enjoy this book as that maybe it is all just too honest and confronting. Who said we are meant to unconditionally love our family or husband or children even? In her questioning of them supposed to make her a bad person? I believe Veronica to be insightful and her memories force her to confront her grief and vice versa. Life is shit and it throws us shit too.
This is what death has bought to her door, memories and what we think we remember are not necessarily true or false either it is what it is. Have you ever had that argumet with your siblings over what you remember of an event or occurance and your sibling see's it totally differently. That dosn't mean that one is wrong and the other right, they are our own memories and they are very personal.
Veronica expresses what I am sure alot of us really feel and struggle with in every day life. But this is her handling her grief can do unbelieveable things to ones mind, it is a different process for all and I completely feel for her on so many levels. I believe that she went back to her family, even though her husband is a bit of a pig. Fancy demanding sex while she is grieving. Jesus what an insensitive prick!
I am sorry that so many of you don't get this wonderful and compelling story. I didn't find it sad either...I laughed in almost every chapter!
Has anyone felt the same as me perhaps???


Jools I have just finished reading this, and like many others, could not connect on any level to the characters. I thought the plot was very disjointed and the merging of the past and the present was very frustrating. All in all, I just wanted to finish the book and get it over and done with.
I like to read a variety of novels and fiction and often read stuff that makes my blood boil and makes me think. This is good. But I just felt this book went nowhere. Why it won the Man Booker baffles me.


Jerry Levy I wrote a comment on this book already but I'll repeat here what I said. There were a lot of problems in my opinion with the construction of the book, here's why:

" I had high expectations for the Booker prize winner but was hugely let down. The "big reveal" about Liam, when it finally comes, arrives far too late in the book (in my opinion). And I couldn't connect the dots between what happened to Liam as a youth and his suicide many years later. We're led to believe that that abuse caused him to drown himself. I don't buy it; many young people survive abuse of the sort he experienced (although of course they most likely are damaged)...so what in his fragile psyche led him to his death. It's not explained. And then there's the problem of a very unreliable narrator; it's not really possible to know what she talks about in her stream-of-consciousness ramblings is true or not. So how can there be a plot when the reader doesn't know what the truth is? Far too much inane meandering by Veronica, the narrator, too much self-absorbtion...it made for a lousy read. I'd skip this book, even though it won a Booker (if you want to read better Booker winners, try 'The Life & Times of Michael K' by JM Coetzee, or 'The Sea', by John Banville)"

Anyway, I wouldn't say it was a terrible book but certainly not one worth a Booker. But who knows why certain books win and others don't.


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