The members of the Barga Book Club met on Thursday in the serene interior of the one home seemingly untouched by this winter’s liquid destruction or personal hardship. We could leave our troubles outside inasmuch as possible. As usual we were sublimely hosted and treated to a luscious meal provided by those present with even a reminder of those not present with Plum jam from the Bianchessi’s provided by Isobel to accompany her delicious scones.
The novel up for discussion was The Gathering by Anne Enright. It is a narrative in what Margaret relegated to the Misery Memoir genre and Kerry compared to numerous other funereally set pieces such as The Red House, Last Orders, Amsterdam. All stories around which a death is the continuous point of reference.
Veronica struggles with memories of her brother Liam, who has committed suicide in the midst of a life defined by his alcoholism. They were two of the twelve children in this Irish catholic family which was defined by its lack of connectedness. Veronica struggles with her own marriage and children and one comes to understand her emptiness through her past, her mother rendered vapid through relentless childbearing. The humiliation of needs having to be met though compromise.
Krysia loved the writing, the author’s ability to make you remember being a child. The way she describes circumstances with masterful observation, attention to detail. The Guardian put it this way:strangers meet in a hotel and share the presence of potential nakedness without a touch; Liam’s thirst for alcohol rages while Veronica’s pads along behind her through insomniac nights; a moustache can barely be noticed before its description moves on to the idea of tickled thighs. Sex – for Enright, as for John Banville – is a kind of gleefully appalling slapstick that dogs humanity and leaves it betrayed. This is a world where fidelity is impossible and sex is absurd, but love is forever, like a scar.
Salene who also loved it, saying it was about love, remarked on the power in the repetitive use of the word roar, and the disintegration of the family through the father who was a serial adulterer.
Margaret and Helen both found the novel frustrating and sad, were irritated with the fecklessness of the characters and post relationship fantasy and way too much description of male genitalia.
The next meeting will be on Thursday March 27 held at Helen’s to discuss The Memoirs of a Survivor by Doris Lessing
The following to be held on Thursday April 24 at Margaret’s to discuss Stoner by John Williams
Then Thursday May 29th at Krysia’s to discuss The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Thank you to everyone and we look forward to seeing you next month