The Gathering by Anne Enright

“It’s a heady business, burying the dead.” Veronica’s brother Liam has drowned in Brighton, and she must bring his body home to Dublin to be buried.  And so, the gathering of the title—Veronica, her widowed mother, and her many, many siblings, as well as generations of ghosts, memories, and imaginings.  Awash in this gathering, Veronica attempts to make sense of Liam’s death, her family, and her life.

Though only about 200 pages, The Gathering is a capacious book. Veronica, overwhelmed by guilt and grief, confusion and and resentment, travels as far back as an imagined meeting of her maternal grandparents, when a single decision made by her grandmother, Ada, determined not only the course of her own life, but those of her children and grandchildren.  And Veronica in turn re-examines her own decisions, about acting on events seen and inferred, about love, marriage, and motherhood.

Despite this novel’s range, it moves with astonishing grace and ease because of the incredible lyricism of Enright’s prose.  (I was reminded of Joyce.)

—Diane

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