Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Gathering among others..


Over the time I had off at Christmas I managed to read four books from my list on my side bar. Three of them I managed to read without too many problems however when I started the last book I found that it was more difficult going...

'Those Faraday Girls' - Monica McInerney - was a typical holiday read not too taxing on the brain with its characters and plots. It moved along and was evenly paced with no major surprises.

'The Road to Paradise' - Paullina Simons - was a little different than I thought it would be but once I got into the pace of it I was right and it to proved to be a good read although a little more exacting than the first.

'Notes from an Exhibition' - Patrick Gale - took a little more concentration and again once I settled down to its pace I thoroughly enjoyed it enough to give it a star * rating as a good read. I had never read any of Gale's work before but I had been warned that he demanded attention from his readers.

I then moved onto 'The Gathering' - Anne Enright - and it is with this book I met my Waterloo so to speak. I had wanted to read it even before it was announced as the 2007 Booker Prize winner. I have found this book a difficult one and I am not quite sure to why. I had thought about the subject matter which is centred around a coming together of a large Irish family for the funeral of one of their own - an estranged brother who had committed suicide in England.

The siblings are all in the their adult years with lives of their own which from all accounts seemed to have their own difficulties. It is told from the perspective of a sister Veronica who seems to have a lot on her plate as it is she who assumes responsibility for the identification and bringing her brother's body back home to Ireland from England. She is on the brink of a marriage breakdown and that coupled with her brother's death and memories from the past threaten to engulf her as she struggles to come to terms and peace within herself.

As with most stories that deal with families there are ghosts from the past which rise up to haunt the living and torment the souls of those who aren't strong. I wondered in part if that was my difficulty with the book - having only one other older sibling and a small family unit I couldn't begin to image what it would be like to live within the confines of a large family and the conflicts it must bring..

The writing is good and I think it is for this reason that I have continued on. While I wouldn't put it up as my most favoured read I can see its merits and it does leave wisps of the story which cling in the mind almost like a slow dripping tap that wears away at the brain with its sound until the source is identified.

Out of the four books - three were to do with families - largish in numbers - who were mostly awkward and at odds with each other... Even 'The Road to Paradise was a young woman's search for her mother in a far away place , her loss of identity and the journey both physical and emotional it takes her to find both. I am a chapter off finishing...

I am considering carefully my next read - something completely different I think...

Update: I have just finished 'The Gathering' - I am glad I stuck it out to the end - I really liked the ending whilst it wasn't sad it wasn't - all happy and resolved now -either. Anne set the ending in an physical place of transition - of between one place and another. Veronica knows from this point she can go anywhere...

The Gathering is a story about families, sorrow and dark secrets that are pernicious - subtle poison - both to the physical body and to the soul.

I think I found my source and turned off the dripping tap - I would even go as far to say I have changed my mind and say it is a worthwhile read...

1 comment:

Tannia said...

I want to read The Gathering too :)

ANother family oriented book was "Astonishing Splashes of Colour" - great book !