READ FOR BOOKERTHON
Irish woman Veronica takes a closer look at her family’s troubled history while at the funeral of her brother.
⚈ “Liam Hegarty has drowned himself a river. He wears high vis to ensure his body is easy to spot. He is one of 12 siblings who all like to drink, though he was afflicted more than the rest.
“The Gathering refers to his extended family, a large, Irish kin, coming together for Liam’s funeral and subsequent events. His sister Veronica narrates the tale, grieving for her brother but also attempting to unravel the causes of the family’s dysfunction. She remembers a summer long ago when the children stayed at their grandmother Ada’s house, and attempts to reconstruct Ada’s life to make sense of her own.
There is something wonderful about a death, how everything shuts down, and all the ways you thought you were vital are not even vaguely important… and it is just as you suspected – most of the stuff that you do is just stupid, really stupid, most of the stuff you do is just nagging and whining and picking up for people who are too lazy to love you.
“For us both, the endless misery in The Gathering put a veil over the whole reading experience, making it impossible to see what distinguished this as a book worthy of Booker nomination. There is no sentimentality and no joy. If that’s what Enright was after, she has done well, but that didn’t translate into reader appeal for either of us.”