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“Cats, I always think, only jump into your lap to check if you are cold enough, yet, to eat.”

 

Who needs water parks? Josephine Falls, Far North Queensland. April 2021.

The Gathering by Anne Enright

I am not certain just how many Irish novels drenched in repression, guilt, shame and acerbity the world needs. How many tales of too many children, of too much drink, of sexual dysfunction, abuse and misuse before we give up on the whole island of Ireland and move on and leave them to it?

Anne Enright writes well, but ultimately this tale of misery and woe, fractured families and nervous breakdown is too familiar by half. The narrative jumps all over the show, moving forwards and backwards in time as the shock of grief at the suicide of a sibling jolts our narrator out of her tepid middle-class existence back towards a troubled past.

Moving as it is, the path is well-trodden to the point of banality. Yes, it is sad. Yes, it is tragic. But my word, it is misery piled upon misery that is all just oh so tedious. So if interminable and meandering descriptions of pale/ flabby/ sinewy/ gaunt/ yellowing/ flaccid / dead bodies are your thing, this is the book for you.

⭐ ⭐ 1/2

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