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The Gathering

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Book Description

The Gathering is the fourth book in the Common Threads in the Life series, which began with Common Sons, and continued in The Blind Season and The Salvation Mongers. The Gathering is set in 1999, four months before the coming new millenium. The Reece family had planned to gather to celebrate the new era by gathering on New Year's eve. Instead tragedy strikes, and the family gathers for a very different reason.


Reviewer: Jamilla L. Geter (Philadelphia, Pa)

A Story of Family

Readers of Ronald Donaghe's Common Threads in life series have been waiting patiently for years for the publication of The Gathering; the fourth book in the series that brings our protaganists into the 1990's.

The wait is over, and the book I must say was well worth the wait. In this the fourth novel, Donaghe weaves a beautiful story of love, family and even self discovery. This isn't just the story of Tom and Joel who are now in their fifties. It is the story of the family they have cultivated over the years, the love that has grown and blossomed, plus the strength and wisdom that comes with gettign older.

All the characters come full circle in this story, and Donaghe doesn't leave any of them out. An unforseen tragedy brings the family together earlier than expected, but as one reviewer said it is not the center of the story, nor is it truly the main focus. I think all who love this series will enjoy this lastest glimpse into the lives of Tom and Joel and those who love them most. They are after all still the heart of the story, even though they take a back seat to their family and friends who take "center stage".

I think Mr. Donaghe does what he set out to do in this book; showing us that love, family and faith all work together to withstand the test of time. Tom, Joel and their entire extended family are strong and together they can get through anything as long as they stand together. That in itself is a powerful message.


Reviewer: Duane Simolke (Lubbock, TX)

An appealing, memorable novel

As someone who reads every book the prolific and talented Ronald L. Donaghe writes, I waited quite a long time for this particular novel. The series Common Threads in the Life began with Common Sons, a gay classic that went out of print for a while then eventually came back as a print-on-demand book. And the demand definitely existed!

Donaghe then continued his series with The Salvation Mongers, a searing look at the ex-gay movement. That second book used some of the same settings and characters. The couple from the first novel again took center stage in The Blind Season, which introduced readers to a much larger extended family.

Donaghe kept saying he was writing a book called The Gathering, which would bring together the Common Threads characters. Fortunately, he changed his mind about The Gathering concluding the series. At least one more novel remains. Of course, he writes other series as well, but this review strictly focuses on Common Threads.

Tom and Joel, the two young men who come out and fall in love as the title characters of Common Sons, are now in their fifties. The daughter they fathered during The Blind Season is now a grown, fascinating woman, and the mother of that daughter has also forged her own identity as an independent woman who has overcome a troubled past. In The Salvation Mongers, Kelly works to expose the ex-gay group that had caused suffering in his life. In The Gathering, he falls back into Tom and Joel's life, along with an old enemy.

I would call The Blind Season the darkest part of the series, and this novel shares some of that book's gritty tragedy. However, the spotlight soon returns to the relationships of The Gathering's large--and mostly lovable--cast. The characters spring as naturally from the New Mexico landscape as the agrarian life they enjoy. Instead of catty, stereotypical queens in a New York City coffee shop, Donaghe gives us three-dimensional people that represent the lives of countless gays across countless small towns. He also gives us heterosexual characters who often surprise us in their ability or inability to overcome prejudice.

As other reviewers often note, Donaghe also gives us gay couples who work hard to create lasting relationships--with or without gay role models. Tom and Joel's hard work on their farm constantly mirrors their hard work at making a better life for themselves and other gays. Donaghe not only imagines that possibility, but presents it in an appealing, memorable novel.


Reviewer: R.Parklane (Taipeh, Taiwan)

Finally here but well worth the wait!

Ted Bandy has given a perfect review of the story. On my part, I just wish to contribute a 5 stars rating and thank Donaghe for finally giving us the 4th vol of this amazing series. Common Son (Vol 1) was one of my introductions into gay romance and will always remain my top favorite.

Vol 4 after more than 6 years since Vol 3 is well worth the wait. Tom and Joe is one of my favorite gay couples and reading about them when they are in their 50's and their friends and family is a wonderful experience. Theirs is truly a timeless love story. I look forward to "Summer's Change" Vol 5 of this series.


Reviewer: Brian C (San Jose, Ca)

It took a while, but Definitely worth the wait.

Ronald Donaghe has done it again. The Gatering, the fourth novel in the Common Threads series is once agian a masterpiece. From simply reading the first few words, the Reese family and all the others were magically reacalled into my mind as if they were old firends coming for a visit.

Donaghe has a way of crating characters that you get to know, and really care about. They become friends that you want to talk with. I actually wish that Joel and Tom were real people, who you could go visit out in Commons, New Mexico and sit on the porch, and be a member of their family. At the end of each novel, he leaves you wanting more, because you just want to spend more time with these friends that you have made.

The Gathering was supposed to be the final book in the series, but Donaghe lets you know that is will not be. I know that I am eargerly awaiting the next novel, and being transported back to that farm in Commons, New Mexico, to visit with old firends.


Reviewer: Samuel D. Kissee

The Gathering

Great story, Ron did a good job of bringing his fans up to date on the lives of Joel & Tom.


Reviewer: Jeramy Watkins (Tempe, AZ)

The Gathering

I really loved this book as much as I did the last three, a lot of characters are involved here and every one of them is special. I am the type who really gets into a good story so I cried at the beginning of the book when I learned about some of the people that are in it. I cant wait to see where the gang in Common go from here.


Reviewer: Ted Bandy (Phoenix)

An Appropriate Tribute to Theme of Common Threads

Several years ago, I had the fortune of spending a weekend w/a prominent movie and restaurant critic and asked him how he reviews a restaurants and movies. For restaurants, he said that he tried to determine what the restaurant was trying to achieve and then assessed whether the restaurant achieved their goal. I had always thought that a restaurant critic's job was to report the quality of food and service, per se. But, no, not according that esteemed critic.

I take that position in my review of The Gathering. My perception of The Gathering was that the author attempted to demonstrate the role of family in the lives a gay couple. In this case, that gay couple is in their 50s and live in southwestern New Mexico far from rainbow flags, gay bars, and pride celebrations as well as the often 'catty' gossip of one's gay friends. Family, and in this case we are referring to one's blood relatives, has long been recognized as the source of support and of love, particularly when the chips are down. To that end, the author has clearly achieved his objective in this 4th installment in the Common Threads in the Life Series.

It is not my intent to recount in detail the storyline of this novel. In brief, over 30 years have elapsed since the protagonists, Tom and Joel, have met, fallen in love, and taken up a career in farming in southwestern New Mexico. Tom and Joel have raised a daughter, who is now living in San Francisco, and have financially prospered in their chosen career. The title of the book is a reference to the gathering together of Tom and Joel's extended blood family in the aftermath of a tragic event in the summer of 1999.

While the story begins with that tragedy, it is my position that the tradgey is not the theme of the story. This story is about how a family comes together out of love, devotion and respect for one another. A gathering of the family had been planned for 1999, but the tragic occurrence in the lives of Tom and Joel has precipitated an early gathering.

It is important to note that the center of that blood (and adopted) family is a gay couple. John Preston (w/Michael Lowenthal) editted the anthology "Friends and Lovers" to illustrate the families that gay men create as a substitute for their blood families. On the dust jacket of that anthology, it is stated "While some replace the 'blood' kin who have denied their sexual orientation or expelled them, others have intentionally chosen to build new kinds of families..."

In sharp contrast to that once often strategy of gay men, Mr Donaghe shows how 2 men without any role models or gay ghettos not only have hoed their own row, but also have done so in the midst of and with the support of their blood family. The protagonists in this series have sought to include their blood family in their lives, and in doing so, the story's protagonists demonstate that gay men are in fact pro family and have the same values, morals and aspirations as do all of mankind.

Unlike many authors, the author does not resort to gimmicks or a Cheers-like setting for his supporting characters. That is, in this novel supporting characters are not present merely to add humor or eccentricity to the story. Rather, in The Gathering several of the supporting characters in the Common Thread series come to center stage where they are well developed and add substance to the story. In doing so, the author conveys the feeling of family that Tom and Joel have to the reader. Because of that, this story is perhaps more about Tom and Joel's relatives than it is about them.

To write a novel without substantive melodrama underscores the capability of the author to develope a story based on the interactions of the characters. While there is some melodrama at the beginning of this novel, my opinion is that that melodrama is not the theme or intent of this novel. This story is about people, per se: how they relate to one another, how they love, and how they support one another. And, it just so happens that this story revolves around gay couple, a gay couple who have faced their share of persecution in both the past and present. While the persecution they've encountered has sought to tear them apart, they have stood firm in their devotion to one another and in their resolve to continue in chosen livelihood. That love between men who are in their 50s can be as strong and as beautiful as that between men in their 20s and 30s seems to be a fact rarely breached in the gay genre.

For those who have enjoyed the Common Threads in Life series, The Gathering is the appropriate tribute to the theme of the series. Warm, touching, and heart-felt, The Gathering epitomizes the mainstreaming of gays and demonstrates that the family is the foundation for all.


Ronald L. Donaghe was raised on a farm in southern New Mexico. The setting for many of his novels involves the desert and the mountains of New Mexico. He is a master at evoking the stark beauty and sheer majesty of such settings--but also the unforgiving and harsh side.

He is a technical writer and novelist from New Mexico. He has been published by Dutton, Edward William Publishing Company, New Mexico Council for the Arts, Xlibris Corporation and by Writer’s Club Press (an imprint of iUniverse.com). His growing body of work includes essays in three anthologies, a book of essays, two novels, and a full-length autobiography. He has a cat without a tail, and he read comics when he was young... two things he'll rarely admit in polite company.

Ronald L. Donaghe is the author of several novels, including those in the series: Common Threads in the Life (which includes the best-selling COMMON SONS), the series: The Continuing Journals of Will Barnett, which includes UNCLE SEAN, LANCE, and this book. In addition, the first book in his fantasy trilogy was published in 2002.


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