It is comforting to think of memory as a recording of past events that can be played back anytime. But the brain does not store memories – especially traumatic memories – in such an orderly and retrievable fashion. In The Gathering, Anne Enright grapples with the chaotic, fragmented, and twisted ways we remember the traumas of childhood.
The memories belong to Veronica, one of the nine surviving Hegarty siblings, gathered for the funeral of their brother Liam. Veronica tries to deal with her grief and make sense of her brother's death by piecing together their family history. She uses her imagination and objective clues to give context to distressing images from the time she and Liam lived with their grandmother.
Veronica's struggle is authentically idiosyncratic. Her grief and the secrets she carries drive some kooky behavior and alienate her from her husband, her mother, and her own daughters. She can be an unattractive, if believable, heroine.
Veronica's off-putting conduct and Enright's sometimes too-obtuse prose makes The Gathering a difficult book. But Enright earned her Booker prize for tackling a harrowing subject and concluding with the important lesson that a problem cannot be solved until it is acknowledged.
If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.
The Gathering is one of the books I read for the MT. TBR CHALLENGE (hosted by Bev on My Reader's Block) and the OFF THE SHELF CHALLENGE (hosted by Bonnie on Bookish Ardour).