Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Gathering by Anne Enright - Or How To Not Read A Book Club Book

Originally written 13 February 2015
The Gathering
Anne Enright

Reading Challenges
Book Club

About The Book
The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother Liam. It wasn’t the drink that killed him – although that certainly helped – it was what happened to him as a boy in his grandmother’s house, in the winter of 1968. His sister Veronica was there then, as she is now: keeping the dead man company, just for another little while.

The Gathering is a family epic, condensed and clarified through the remarkable lens of Anne Enright’s unblinking eye. It is also a sexual history: tracing the line of hurt and redemption through three generations – starting with the grandmother, Ada Merriman – showing how memories warp and family secrets fester. This is a novel about love and disappointment, about thwarted lust and limitless desire, and how our fate is written in the body, not in the stars.

My Thoughts
Congratulations to Anne Enright for being named the inaugural Irish Fiction Laureate. By coincidence the February book for the 1st Wednesday book group is The Gathering by Anne Enright.

I started reading The Gathering three weeks before book club and then put it down when I got to 18% because I didn't want to finish it too soon. I read 18% quite quickly and was enjoying the story. In the meantime I read The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, and The Waiting Room by Gabrielle Carey. Right, back to The Gathering. I picked it up where I left off, but had lost the flow. Just as well I had the day off on the Monday before book club. I'll just read something else and finish it on Monday... So I started The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, but put it down again on Sunday to pick up The Gathering again. Only I didn't get to sit down to read like I wanted to as we had to fix our broken toilet. This required two trips to Bunnings on Sunday and another trip on Monday but has resulted in a nice leak free toilet! When I did sit down to read, I just couldn't get into the story.

So on Monday I didn't get to sit down and read either. Although I did progress to 49%. I was starting to get back into it on the train trip to work this morning, but the train trip wasn't long enough. It is now Tuesday afternoon, book club is on Wednesday at 10.30am.

Luckily I have read this book before. I can remember the overarching story but, as I've been reading, I feel like I haven't read it before at all.

On a side note... The latest negative thing about e-readers is that people don't remember what they've read because of distractions, namely the internet on their device. I say, it has more to do with the reader being distracted whatever it is they are reading on! As the above can testify to. It has nothing to do with my ereader, or book and everything to do with my lack of motivation to read to a dead line and my outstanding ability to procrastinate! Did I need to go on every trip to Bunnings? No. I should have just got on and read the book instead of reading anything else!

I did feel an odd connection with the main character in the book, because she is about my age. Only we are at completely different stages in life. It is weird feeling a connection like that with a fictional character, but at the same time not so weird.

The Gathering did generate a great discussion in the book group, although one member was wondering why someone would write a book about death and having a dead body laid out in their home. The others however, didn't agree. They enjoyed the book. Although enjoy seems to be the wrong word for it.

I must have like the book when I first read it, as I have in my collection two of her short stories collections, one I'm sure I've read. I have also read and enjoyed her novel The Forgotten Waltz.

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