Daily Archives: March 9, 2008

The Gathering – Book Review

The Gathering I would like to write down what happened in my grandmother’s house the summer I was eight or nine, but I am not sure if it really did happen. I need to bear witness to an uncertain event. -From The Gathering, page 1-

Anne Enright won the 2007 Booker Prize for this novel set in Dublin which centers around a woman’s long repressed childhood memories. Veronica Hegerty is one of twelve children – a large and dysfunctional family with dark and unspoken secrets. The suicide of Veronica’s wayward brother Liam provides the catalyst for Veronica’s traumatic memories to surface. Told from Veronica’s point of view and switching from past to present and back to past again, the story is a twisting tale about the reliability of long buried events and the importance of uncovering secrets. Veronica’s revelations about what happened in her grandmother’s home so many years in the past are tangled up in alternative stories fabricated by Veronica, woven together with guilt and shame.

Veronica is a cold, cynical person – angry with her mother’s passivity, confused about her brother’s choices, and ambivalent about her siblings.

Meanwhile, the train chunters through England, clicketty-clack, and Bea talks on, sitting on my dead father’s knee with a ribbon in her hair, like the good little girl she has always been, and I look at the hills, trying to grow up, trying to let my father die, trying to let my sister enter her adolescence (never mind menopause). -From The Gathering, page 43-

She is a woman struggling in a rocky marriage which is made more unstable by Veronica’s negative view of men. But, she is not all hardness and anger. Veronica’s love for her children leaps from the pages and as the novel unfolds, the reader is drawn to Veronica, wanting to understand her and make sense of her life.

Enright leaves the reader with ambiguity in the end. The facts are hazy and the outcome of all the characters’ futures are unsure.

The power of this novel comes from Enright’s fresh language and her ability to expose her characters’ faults. Time and again I found myself stunned by the searing choice of words and phrasing; the graphic descriptions; and Enright’s ability to take the reader to an uncomfortable place to drive home her point.

The Gathering is a tough book which deals with a difficult subject matter. Enright seems to purposefully set out to shock the reader – dragging her through the muck of dysfunction and pain, stirring up the sediment in the lives of the characters to reveal their souls. Written with a great deal of intelligence, unerringly true to its characters, and staggering in its scope – The Gathering is a novel which is not easily forgotten.

Highly recommended; rated 4.5/5.

The Complete Booker

The Complete Booker
An Ongoing Challenge to Read All the Booker Prize Winners

My bookie soul-mate, Laura at Musings, is hosting an ongoing challenge with no time limit. The goal: to read every Booker Prize Winner. She’s started a group blog called The Complete Booker for participants to track their progress and post their reviews.

I’ll be posting there, but also keeping track here on my blog.

Read in 2007:

The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai – won in 2006 (completed March 16, 2007; rated 4.25/5; reviewed here)
The Bone People, by Keri Hulme – won in 1985 (completed July 12, 2007; rated 4.5/5; reviewed here)
The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood – won in 2000 (completed August 1, 2007; rated 4.5/5; reviewed here)
The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy – won in 1997 (completed September 29, 2007; rated 5/5; reviewed here)
Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee – won in 1999 (completed December 14, 2007; rated 4.5/5; reviewed here)

Read in 2008:

Life and Times of Michael K, by J.M. Coetzee – won in 1983 (completed February 17, 2008; rated 4/5; reviewed here)
The Gathering, by Anne Enright – won in 2007 (completed March 9, 2008; rated 4.5/5; reviewed here)
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel – won in 2002 (completed June 23, 2008; rated 3.5/5; reviewed here)
Hotel Du Lac, by Anita Brookner – won in 1984 (completed July 22, 2008; rated 4.5/5; reviewed here)
The Ghost Road, by Pat Barker – won in 1995 (completed December 25, 2008; rated 4.5/5; reviewed here)

Read in 2009:

The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga – won in 2008 (completed January 3, 2009; rated 4/5; reviewed here)
Offshore, by Penelope Fitzgerald – won in 1979 (completed March 27, 2009; rated 3.5/5; reviewed here)
Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie – won in 1981 (completed May 30, 2009; rated 3/5; reviewed here)

Read in 2010:

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel – won in 2009 (completed February 20, 2010; rated 3/5; reviewed here)

Read in 2011:

Sunday Salon – March 9, 2008

Sunday Salon

March 9, 2008

6:35pm

What a day I’ve had…I’ve moved my blog and spent most of the day tweaking with it and learning the new system. Before that, however, I managed to spend an hour in bed with my coffee, my dogs, Gizmo (my cat who thinks she is a person), and The Gathering, by Anne Enright. I finished this rather disturbing book this morning and have not yet written a review. The book is powerful and beautifully written, but it is also graphic and upsetting. I can’t say it is a book I necessarily enjoyed, but it is one I will not soon forget.

Next up on the reading schedule is The Story of Forgetting, by Stefan Merrill Block. Jen from Observed in Books sent me this book after I commented on her blog that I thought I’d enjoy it. It looks wonderful, and I’m anxious to read it.

Earlier today, Bethany commented on last week’s Sunday Salon that she was interested in early review books but didn’t know how to find them…so I thought I’d provide some links to the places I go to find Advance Reader’s Editions.

Library Thing’s Early Review Program

Harper Collins First Look Program

Barnes and Noble First Look Program

Shelf Awareness (subscribe to their newsletter, then watch the ads in the newsletter for links to Early Review books)

There are other sources out there, but these are the main ones I use. I have also been lucky to receive some books directly from a couple of publishers who found me through my blog. The best advice I can give readers new to the world of early reviewing is to keep requesting, even if you don’t get a book immediately; and always read and review the books you do get in a timely manner! Good luck!

Welcome to My New Site

Some of you may have thought I fell off the earth earlier today, but I’ve just been playing on my new site which I hope you will all enjoy!

I have been using BlogHarbor for three years – and it is a great blog host – but when I found out that BlogHarbor was creating a WordPress blog format called PressHarbor, I got interested. I was happy to learn that the tech support would not change (and John from BlogHarbor has saved me more than once, so that was a big issue for me – thanks, John!). I also found out that one of my biggest concerns would be taken care of … that of migrating my BlogHarbor blog here with all the re-directed links, comments, and photos. And it was really a piece of cake. I simply contacted John, signed up for PressHarbor, and a week later here I am.

I hope you will all be patient as I learn my way around my new site. I will be adding my blog roll in the next week; and I’m working hard to figure out how to get my Mr. Linky’s working for the Themed Challenge participants.

You might notice that all the comments now say from Anonymous…I know you’re not Anonymous, but the migration didn’t allow for individual names. From here on out, however, your names will appear with your comments.

Please let me know what you think and if you find any glitches! Thank you!