Thursday, October 30, 2008

Katrina's Review of The Gathering (2007 Winner)

Lots of reviews of this book say it is too depressing, too miserable. This is a book about a suicide, its hardly likely to be full of happiness and joy.
The book is narrated by a middle aged, middle class woman, with a seemingly perfect life - she's at home looking after the kids, whilst her husbands business is going so well she can buy anything she wants. But she isn't happy.
When her brother commits suicide she starts mulling over events in the past, her past and her families past, as well as the present, her lifeless, loveless marriage. Veronica is from a large family, one where the kids all drag up each other. The mother has too many kids to care about each child individually, and she also has some type of problem, so the family is constantly trying to protect her from the live going on around her. Veronica seems to hate, and yet love her mother, and also blames her father for having to grow up in this overly large family.
After her brother's suicide, Veronica explores a past she would have never known, the meeting of her grandparents, and how that meeting led to the event that she says it the root cause of her brother's death.
This novel is firmly based in the thoughts of the narrator, no great event happens, and you guess early on what childhood event will be revealed. I felt I never knew whether to trust this narrator, at some points she even told you that she couldn't clearly remember events. I also didn't really like her, or any of her family, they all seemed fairly self absorbed, no one really seemed to love anyone else, they all just existed side-by-side.
Saying that I thought it was well written, and a good read.This was the last book I had to read for the 2008 Man Booker Challenge, this year I read:
1. The Gathering (winner)
2. The Famished Road (winner)
3. Sour Sweet (Short listed 1982)
4. Moon Tiger (winner 1986)
5. Mister Pip (Short listed 2007)
6. The Orchard on Fire (Short listed 1996)
By far my favorite was Mr Pip. In the next year I shall be reading all the of the 2008 shortlist, as well as some previous winners and runners up

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