The Second Gathering or The Last Taboo.

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Apart from families, memories, Ireland and a host of other things, The Gathering is about child abuse. There is nothing in the blurb that even mentions this and I feel in the light of recent disclosures and the extent of institutionalised abuse that this is very telling.

The book is about the knowing, the guilt, the suspicion and the total destruction of the child and perhaps all those who knew and, either were too young to know what they knew, or denied it.

It seems with Rotherham in the news so dramatically that we are all guilty of silence. A culture of silence when no one would believe you if you said the word aloud or accused the favourite uncle, brother, father, grandfather, step father, or even friend of the family.

The prevalence of paedophilia feels like the fall of the Roman Empire. Those last  days of debauchery when the worst of the worst of people’s nature was allowed to let rip.  Perhaps a penchant for sex with children is part of some people’s nature and as difficult to renounce as over eating or over drinking but that does not make it  OK or mean that control cannot be exercised.  I think I’d be with Nancy Reagan on this – Just say no.

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The Gathering

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I have been reading Anne Enright’s The Gathering, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2007.  Bit late, you might think and I would agree.  Impossible now to plug the gaping holes in my reading but like the little Dutch boy attempting to prevent disaster, I keep trying.

Enright examines  memory almost as a good Catholic examines conscience, at times with  gleeful detachment, at others with ensuing guilt, with the innocence of an eight year old and with the grief of a grown woman reassessing her life after the suicide of  her brother as the family gather for the wake.

The book is tender and subtle, as Colm Toibin says, but I am no judge if Enright’s vision of Ireland is ‘brave and original.’  It is an Ireland of thirty years ago, of seventy and of now, of her dreams, of her making and of her ancestry.

The book is about love and disappointment and is  beautiful and quite brilliant, as Joseph O’ Connor says.