At its center though, The Gathering, winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize, is a story about grief and our failed attempts to forget its root causes. Veronica takes us into the lives of her ancestors and deep into her own consciousness to reveal the secret she believes has led to Liam’s alcoholism and suicide. We are her witnesses, her comrades, though she is surrounded by siblings, a sick mother, and her own husband and children. As she teeters on the edge of sanity, she takes hold of us and doesn’t let go until she has said what she needs to say.
We are entranced by Veronica’s swirling mind and her struggle to bring traumatic memories to the surface. But there are moments of clarity too. The beauty of the novel is how closely we get to experience these moments with Veronica. They are the little beating hearts that drive the twisting narrative and give light to this family’s many secrets.