Book Review: The Gathering by Anne Enright

Author: Anne Enright
Title: The Gathering
Publication Info: RecordedBooks (2007), Audio CD
ISBN: 1436102650


Dreary, overwrought, cliche-ridden, mawkish, pretentious, self-absorbed … these are just a few adjectives to describe this novel selected by my book club. Veronica Hegarty is the first-person narrator of this story who uses the suicide of her brother Liam as a jumping-off point for asynchronous reflections on her miserable upper-class marriage, her miserable childhood in a stereotypically large and confrontational Irish family and most bizarrely long passages on the sex life of her grandparents.  Enright has a thing for detailed and gratuitous descriptions of human body parts – whether they’re having sex or decomposing it doesn’t matter.  It’s affectations like this that scream “I’m trying to be a GREAT writer here!”  but just put me off.  Mind you, professional critics have given this book some positive reviews and it did win the Booker Prize. so don’t take my word for it.  Like or not though, this book is full of grief and rage and will not be easy to read.  The audiobook narrator is a bit over-the-top too, although that may be a chicken or the egg type of thing.

Recommended books: More Bread or I’ll Appear by Emer Martin, The Deposition of Father McGreevy by Brian O’Doherty, Charming Billy by Alice McDermott, and Every Inch of Her by Peter Sheridan.
Rating: *1/2