I finally finished The Gathering by Anne Enright. Man, I wish I liked this book. Or at least appreciated it. After all, it was the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2007. And it sounded good - the back cover blurb says, in part, that this book was a moving, evocative portrait of a large Irish family haunted by the past. The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan are gathering in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother, Liam, who drowned in the sea. His sister, Veronica, collects the body and keeps the dead man company, guarding the secret she shares with him - something that happened in their childhood.
This sounds like the kind of book I would enjoy, but I was really disappointed, especially with the first two-thirds of the book. It's told from Veronica's point of view and skips all over the place from the present, to a few months in the future, to her childhood, and then skips back to what she assumes was her grandmother's youth, and then back again. Sadly, I didn't find Veronica to be very likable or sympathetic, or even slightly interesting. She whines a lot, is nasty to her family, and makes her brother's death all about her. The last third of the book is more interesting and saves the book from total failure. This is where we finally learn of the secret and also where some of the other characters are finally involved. Funny thing is Liam is probably the most compelling character in the entire book and he's dead!
All in all, I'd probably skip this book if I had to do it all over again. I probably could have read three books in the time it took me to dredge through this one.
- The Gathering