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Reader’s Den

The Reader's Den: Book Discussion of "The Gathering"


The first words of Anne Enright's book, The Gathering are as follows:

"I would like to write down what happened in my grandmother's house the summer I was eight or nine, but I am not sure if it really did happen. I need to bear witness to an uncertain event. I feel it roaring inside me--this thing that may not have taken place. I don't even know what name to put on it. I think you might call it a crime of the flesh, but the flesh is long fallen away and I am not sure what hurt may linger in the bones."

This quote is from the narrator, Veronica Hegarty, about an event that may or may not have occurred to her recently deceased brother, Liam in their childhood. As she tries to piece together her memories from childhood in the wake of Liam's suicide and funeral, she confronts the possible sexual abuse of her brother by her grandmother's friend and landlord. The Gathering switches back and force from the present to Veronica's childhood and back even further to her grandmother Ada's youth. Her memories of childhood events are contributed to and sometimes changed by her siblings while they gather for the wake of their brother. This event is something Veronica feels a tremendous amount of guilt for, but in the beginning she's not even sure if it happened. How does this change over the course of the novel?