I read the 34th book for the book challenge. It was The Gathering by Anne Enright.
This is a difficult book to describe. It is a narrative by a woman, Veronica Hegarty, who is a Irish woman. She is one of twelve children in an Irish family who were brought up in Dublin. She has just received word that her older brother, Liam, to whom she was closest in age and whom she was closest to, has committed suicide by walking into the sea in Brighton, England. She must go to Brighton to collect his body and bring it back to Dublin for burial. Before she does that, however, she must tell her mother and siblings the news of her brother’s death. She goes to her mother’s house to tell her and calls her siblings from there.
On the way to Brighton, she reminisces and fantasizes about her maternal grandmother Ada and her grandfather Charlie, but mostly about her grandmother Ada and their friend Lambert Nugent who was their landlord. She has sexual fantasies about Ada and Nugent. Who knows if these happened or not, but for Veronica they are real. She also thinks about her own faltering marriage. And she remembers back to her childhood with Liam and Kitty, her sister, and Ada when they visited their Uncle Brendan in the mental hospital and then went to the seaside. She goes to Brighton and makes arrangement to fly Liam’s body back to Ireland for the funeral.
When she returns to Ireland, The wake for Liam is held at the Hegarty home where the mother still lives. All the remaining siblings attend. Veronica stays awhile with her siblings and then goes home and makes love with her husband. They go to the funeral, where her brother Ernest the priest says Mass. She meets Liam girlfriend Sarah and his three or four year old son Rowan who looks much like Liam. Then Veronica leaves and takes a plan to England and stays in a hotel in Gatwick Airport. She decides to tell her siblings that Liam was sexually abused as a child by Lambert Nugent. That may be why he turned to drink and killed himself. She decides to go home to her husband.
This was a strange book. I really didn’t quite understand it. I didn’t understand how Veronica could have known what went on between Ada and Nugent. It must have been fantasy. She was quite conflicted about her marriage. At one point she hated her husband; at another she cared for him. It was all quite muddled and very esoteric.