Anne Enright – The Gathering

24May09


I’m trying to read all the Booker winners, in the next couple of years. This painstakingly dull book, filled with unengaging characters and a pointless plot adds a serious blemish to my plan at the very outset. I struggled through the first thirty pages, and struggled some more ’til I hit page 89, in a week… And then… then I just gave up, and figured this book is not for me. I mean, what a gigantic waste of my reading time! 

I wonder if the Booker judges even read this book, and if they did, did they have exceptionally low standards? I must read the rest of the shortlist for 2007, for I really can’t fathom how this book won any kind of prize. 

I mean, what kind of a person imagines the sex-life of her grandmother, and starts off a chapter saying she thought her grandmother was a prostitute? That’s the narrator for you. She also judges her mum, and talks of the ‘endless humping’ in her family, which led to the number of siblings she had being in double-digits. 

I feel terrible, but, 0/10. If negative ratings work, I’d probably give this a -10. Argh! Ok, rant over. 

PS: I was almost tempted to create a new ‘genre’ called pointless reading for this!

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8 Responses to “Anne Enright – The Gathering”

  1. 1 uncertainprinciples

    As a fairly immediate follow-up (I just googled the Booker shortlist of 2007 straight after posting the above), the following books were nominated:

    Darkmans by Nicola Barker (Fourth Estate)
    The Gathering by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape)
    The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton)
    Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (John Murray)
    On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (Jonathan Cape)
    Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (Simon & Schuster)

    I have read The Reluctant Fundamentalist and I really hated the narrator. However, the story was interesting, characters engaging (maybe not likable, and definitely not relatable), and it was a fascinating plot. I read it about a year ago, and will give it a 6.5 / 10.

    I have also read On Chelsil Beach and I absolutely hated it. Again, unengaging characters, uninspiring plot. And this is coming from someone who loves most books by McEwan, including Atonement , Comfort Of Strangers and The Cement Garden. Overall, I’d rate that a 4 / 10 (and I finished it!).

    Must read the others…

  2. 2 claire

    I actually really loved On Chesil Beach. I didn’t like the characters but then the structure, being the whole book a plateau, and then a brief, momentary flash of insight right at the end just was perfect to put the whole thing in perspective for me.

    I’ve never actually had the desire to read The Gathering, but I also have this goal of reading all Booker winners, so I might get to that one day (not looking forward to it, lol). I have yet to find a positive review of it.

    I have Mister Pip on TBR. I think it’s going to be enjoyable. I think.

    • 3 uncertainprinciples

      Ooh, I have Master Pip on my TBR list as well, and am looking forward to reading it. I probably should bump it up on my TBR list.

      Re: Chelsil Beach, I think I couldn’t quite get into the plot, which is why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I normally enjoy McEwan’s work. Embarrassingly, I have completely forgotten the end.

      As for ‘The Gathering’, if you reallllllllllly want to read it, I suggest reading it after all the other Booker winners, because that might just encourage you to finish it. Or not… it was terrible!

  3. The Gathering is one of the only books without a plot which I loved. I don’t know why, but I was really drawn into this book, and loved it. I’m sorry that you didn’t like it, and hope you find some Booker winners more enjoyable in the future.

    I have read all the 2007 Booker short list except Chesil Beach and Animal’s People. I didn’t finish Darkmans, as it was so boring. Mr Pip was probably my favourite, but I loved the way The Relucatant Fundamentalist challenged my opinions of society. I thought The Gathering deserved to win that year, but there are a lot of years when the wrong book won!

    • 5 uncertainprinciples

      Boy, we seem to have some conflicting tastes in books! Does it get better after page 89? Because, that’s when I decided I’d had enough, and wanted to put an end to the agony.

      Reluctant Fundamentalist was kind-of intimidating. Well, the protagonist, at least. I read Moth Smoke, recently, which I thought was slightly better. Completely different plots, though, but by the same author.

      • I haven’t read Moth Smoke, but it is on my wishlist. We do seem to have very different taste in books! I’m afraid I can’t remember whether the book gets better after p89. I read it a while ago, in my pre-blogging days, so don’t have any notes on it. I seem to think I liked it from the start, but can’t really remember.

  4. 7 uncertainprinciples

    It wasn’t really a serious question! I just couldn’t get into it… the chapter starting with her assuming her grandmother was a prostitute, and her college boyfriend encouraging the idea did it for me!

    I enjoyed Moth Smoke. It won’t be the best book I’ve ever read, or anything like that, but still, it was an interesting read, and look into the Pakistani society.


  1. 1 Book Review: The Gathering « ReviewsbyLola's Blog

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