When All Is Saidby Published 05 Mar 2019
|When All Is Said.pdf|
|Publisher||Thomas Dunne Books|
A tale of a single night. The story of a lifetime.
If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?
This is the story of Maurice Hannigan, who, over the course of a Saturday night in June, orders five different drinks at the Rainford House Hotel. With each he toasts a person vital to him: his doomed older brother, his troubled sister-in-law, his daughter of fifteen minutes, his son far off in America, and his late, lamented wife. And through these people, the ones who left him behind, he tells the story of his own life, with all its regrets and feuds, loves and triumphs.
Beautifully written, powerfully felt, When All Is Said promises to be the next great Irish novel.
"When All Is Said" Reviews
"I'm here to remember - all that I have been and all that I will never be again."
When All Is Said tells the life story of Maurice Hannigan. Now an elderly man, he sits alone in the bar of the Rainford House Hotel. Over the course of one evening, he raises toasts to five different people as he recounts the story of his life up until that moment. Like all lives, Maurice's has moments of pure happiness, moments of darkness and misery, mistakes made and things left unsaid. I think perhaps the quiet strength of this book - and the saddest thing about it - comes from knowing deep down that there's really only one way it can end.
Past tense, decade-spanning family stories are totally my thing. This one was no exception. I got a very strong John Boyne The Heart's Invisible Furies vibe reading this, and it came as no surprise when Griffin thanked him in the acknowledgements at the end. There's also a touch of A Man Called Ove in here, too.
Griffin takes us from the old-fashioned Ireland of the past to the present. We revisit Maurice's childhood and see how he struggled at school because of his dyslexia, and, of course, had no one to give him guidance on it. In those times, his only option was to turn to work on the farm, which resulted in him working under an abusive employer. Later, we see him fall in love and marry, and have kids, but all this is told through the five toasts; all relating back to the one person at the centre of that chapter.
Tony never stopped telling me I was full of greatness. People didn’t really do that back then, encourage and support. You were threatened into being who you were supposed to be.
It's a very effective kind of storytelling. The old man's view, combined with the past tense, makes for a very nostalgic tale, tinged with bittersweetness from start to finish. Many sad things happen but for me it was saved from being too maudlin by Maurice's fire, love, and grumpy sense of humour. It is amusing to hear this old-fashioned guy recount a visit to a fertility doctor and bemoan the discussions of "'Rhythm' fecking this and 'cycle' fecking that".
Another strength of the story, I feel, comes from the exploration of how the same thing can look quite different in hindsight, not just for Maurice, but for humanity as a whole. In Maurice's case, minor acts of revenge turned out bigger than he'd ever anticipated, and he also saw his wife's actions in a new light as he aged. For humanity, someone who was written off as "stupid" is now recognized as having a learning disorder that can be helped; mental illness, too, is now better understood.
There was a love but of the Irish kind, reserved and embarrassed by its own humanity.
A beautiful, sad, funny book, made all the more interesting because many of the characters, especially Maurice, are difficult, or selfish, or grumpy, but we still come to love them. It broke my heart.
Warnings for grief, abuse and [spoilers removed].
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There are 5 star books and then there are five star books with a story that make me wish I could give more stars. This is one of them. There are debut novels and then there are debut novels which after I’ve finished reading, have me thinking, wow what a debut and hoping that the author is working on her next book. This is one of them.
I don’t drink much beer, let alone one “not from the fridge” and certainly not stout. I don’t like whiskey at all, but I wanted to be sitting at this bar in Ireland, drinking every one of the five toasts to people in his life, in his heart along with Maurice Hannigan. Maurice Hannigan had me from the first page. It felt like a memoir, touching on events and people in his life, his life exposed as he tells these stories. The heartache and grief and happiness that life brought to him and the excruciating loneliness as we meet him at age 84. I felt his grief, understood his regrets and felt the love he had for these people in his life: his beloved brother Tony, his first child Molly, his sister-in-law Maureen, his son Kevin, and the love of his life, Sadie. I won’t tell you here about them because it’s Maurice’s story to tell and it’s best to hear it from him. I recommend that you do.
This is a beautifully told story of grief, guilt, regret, family and the depths of loneliness tempered only by the love he feels for these people. A truly amazing debut, a story rendered in a unique and near perfect way. Here’s to you Maurice, a character deserving of being remembered.
This was a monthly read with Diane and Esil, my favorite book buddies. I was glad to have shared this one with them. Here’s to you, my friends.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.
A subtly beautiful story that celebrates life, loss, and, most significantly, love.
“I’m here to remember -- all that I have been and all that I will never be again.”
One night in Meath, Ireland at a hotel 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan makes five toasts to five people. In doing so, he recounts those who have shaped his life in the most important ways. His tribute to these five individuals reveals his accomplishments, regrets, and unwavering love for his friends, family, and his wife, Sadie.
This is a lovely, touching read that is beautifully written. Maurice’s story is both understated and raw. I loved getting to know him and reading his truthful account of his life. He doesn’t sugarcoat or make excuses. He basks in the glory of his small victories. In Meath, he is known for his rich speaking voice, and as a reader, his voice drew me in with his ability to take a simple story and elevate it into something special. In Maurice, Griffin has created a character who is authentic, complex, and charming. I felt his emotions and heartbreak. My favorite toast was to his wife, Sadie. I was a bit shattered in the end, but at the same time, I understood that this was the right way to end Maurice’s story. Highly recommended! Warning: have tissues handy!
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.
This is an exceptional, undeniably Irish, debut from Anne Griffin, the prose is effortlessly engaging and it is simultaneously heartbreaking and life affirming as we get intimately acquainted with the life and times of 84 year old Maurice Hannigan. Hannigan has packed up his life, leaving no loose threads prior to booking the most exclusive suite at the Rainsford House Hotel. Early on, we cotton on to how the night will end, but before that, Maurice settles in for an evening at the hotel bar to raise a toast for the five most important loves of his life. They are Tony, his brother, Molly, his daughter, Noreen or Auntie No-no, his son, Kevin, who emigrated to New Jersey, USA, becoming a notable journalist, and lastly, but of the most vital importance, his wife, Sadie.
As Maurice reminisces, we become aware of just how close his bond with Tony is, of how school became a tortuous experience as he became convinced of just how stupid he is. He leaves at 10 years old to work, like his mother, for the local rich family, the Dollards, where he undergoes a plethora of the most unhappiest of experiences that are to leave him scarred for life and shape him to be the most unforgiving of men. The scales shift as through the years the Dollard fortunes drop substantially whilst Maurice becomes a astute entrepreneurial farmer, buying up the land around his farm, becoming financially secure and wealthy. He falls for Sadie hook, line and sinker, and to his surprise and joy, she returns his love. Sadie's sister, Noreen, is fiercely drawn to the sparkle, and she will go to any lengths to acquire it when she sees it, not afraid of making a fuss in public. Kevin makes a ritual of providing his father with rare whiskies. To Maurice's eternal regret, he has not been an expressive man, he has never been able to articulate the depth of his love to those nearest and dearest. It becomes transparently clear that loneliness has seeped into Maurice's heart and soul.
Anne Griffin has written a touchingly profound and moving novel, of the oh so very human Maurice, his joys and tragedies, the ghosts who have been there in his life, and his concerns that the one ghost he really wants to see has proved to be elusive. Maurice is a character you cannot help but get emotionally invested in, despite his obsession for business and making money, which, of course, left him open to missing the opportunities to be with his loved ones when they may have needed him. This novel hones in what is important in life, family, friends and love. Maurice is not infallible, he had a drive for vengeance, not always aware of the consequences of his actions but I loved and adored him. This is a brilliantly enthralling story of Maurice, of his dyslexia, his family, heartbreak, and the Ireland he lives through. Hugely recommended. Many thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.
This is a perfect example of a book I didn't want to end. I just fell in love with the main character to the point that by the end of the story I felt like he was an old friend. Maybe this book isn't going to be special for everyone, but I found it to be incredibly touching and brilliant.
84-year-old Maurice Hannigan takes a seat at a hotel bar in a small Irish town. Before the night is over, he will toast 5 people who made an impact in his life.
The thing I kept thinking about while reading is how there are certain moments in life that might be insignificant to others, but they end up shaping you as a person. They might be things you want to forget, but you can't deny they helped define you. And that's why I was so moved by Maurice as he revisited these moments. The premise of the book sounds so simple, but yet there is so much substance. He's a complicated man and I was incredibly moved as I learned everything about him, the good, the bad, and all the stuff in between. I'm not even joking when I say it felt like I was sitting right there with him at the bar and when the night was over, I didn't want him to leave. I love when I feel emotionally connected to a character because it's a feeling that doesn't always happen, at least not on this level.
I rarely pay much attention when other authors endorse a book, but I do find it worth noting John Boyne had some good things to say about the author and her novel. If you enjoyed The Heart's Invisible Furies, consider checking this book out.
I won a free advance copy of this book in a giveaway but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.