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The Gathering

by Anne Enright

Library Journal : It seems that large, extended families are brought together for two events, weddings and funerals, and such is the case in Enright's new novel (after The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch) when Veronica, her eight surviving siblings, and their mammy reconnect for her wayward brother Liam's funeral. As Veronica notes early on, "the seeds of my brother's death were sown many years ago," and it is those seeds, which are gradually unearthed as the book moves between past and present, describing the deconstruction of the family, that drove Liam to suicide. From a description of vodka with a "sweet and crotch-like" smell that includes a "waft of earth and adolescence" to souls that, if released, would "slop out over his teeth," Enright's writing is starkly descriptive, using the same coarse imagery that is part of her characters' daily lives. Much is raw in this novel, which is less about individuals than about people's "patience and ability to endure." While readers won't be drawn to the characters, anyone who perseveres will find a story of harsh redemption and of a future found in a child's blue eyes. An acquired taste; recommended for larger and more diverse collections.—Caroline M. Hallsworth, City of Greater Sudbury, Ont.

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