THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER & INDIE NEXT PICK
"Griffin's stunning debut, brimming with irresistible Irish-isms, is an elegy to love, loss and the complexity of life." –People Magazine
One of Goodreads' 43 Most Anticipated Reads of 2019
“Beautiful. Intimate. Tearful. Aching and lyrical. So simply and beautifully told.” –Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"I'm here to remember–all that I have been and all that I will never be again."
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?
At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual - though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.
Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories - of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice - the life of one man will be powerful and poignantly laid bare.
Beautifully heart-warming and powerfully felt, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said and done.
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
ANNE GRIFFIN is the winner of the John McGahern Award for Literature. Shortlisted for the Hennessey New Irish Writing Award and The Sunday Business Post Short Story Competition, Anne’s work has been featured in, amongst others, The Irish Times and The Stinging Fly, and she had an eight year career at Waterstones. Anne lives in Ireland with her husband and son. When All Is Said is her debut novel.
Read an Excerpt
Saturday, 7th of June 2014
The bar of the Rainsford House Hotel Rainsford, Co. Meath, Ireland
Is it me or are the barstools in this place getting lower? Perhaps it's the shrinking. Eighty-four years can do that to a man, that and hairy ears.
What time is it over in the States now, son? One, two? I suppose you're stuck to that laptop, tapping away in your air- conditioned office. 'Course, you might be home on the porch, in the recliner with the wonky arm, reading your latest article in that paper you work for, what's it ...? Jesus, can't think of it now. But I can see you with those worry lines, concentrating, while Adam and Caitríona run riot trying to get your attention.
It's quiet here. Not a sinner. Just me on my lonesome, talking to myself, drumming the life out of the bar in anticipation of the first sip. If I could get my hands on it, that is. Did I ever tell you, Kevin, that my father was a great finger tapper? Would tap away at the table, my shoulder, anything he could lay his index finger on, to force home his point and get the attention he deserved. My own knobbly one seems less talented. Can get the attention of no one. Not that there's anyone to get the attention of, except your one out at reception. She knows I'm here alright, doing a great job ignoring me. A man could die of thirst round these parts.
They're up to ninety getting ready for the County Sports Awards, of course. It was some coup for the likes of Rainsford wrestling that hoolie out of Duncashel with its two hotels. That was Emily, the manager, or owner, I should say, a woman well capable of sweet-talking anyone into the delights of this place. Not that I've experienced much of those myself over the years.
But here I sit nonetheless. I have my reasons, son, I have my reasons.
You should get a load of the enormous mirror in front of me. Massive yoke. Runs the length of the bar, up above the row of spirits. Not sure if it's from the original house. Ten men, it must've taken to get that up. Shows off the couches and chairs behind me all eager for the bottoms that are at this minute squeezing into their fancy outfits. And there's me now in the corner, like the feckin' eejit who wouldn't get his head out of shot. And what a head it is. It's not often I look in the mirror these days. When your mother was alive I suppose I made a bit of an effort but sure what difference does it make now? I find it hard to look at myself. Can't bear to see it – that edge, you know the one I mean – haven't you been on the receiving end of it enough over the years.
Still. Clean white shirt, crisp collar, navy tie, not a gravy stain in sight. Jumper, the green one your mother bought me the Christmas before she died, suit and my shoes polished to a shine. Do people polish their shoes any more or is it just me who practises the art? Sadie'd be proud alright. A well-turned-out specimen of a man. Eighty-four and I can still boast a head of hair and a chin of stubble. Rough it feels, though – rough. I don't know why I bother shaving every morning when by lunchtime it's like a wire brush.
I know I wasn't what you might call good-looking in my day, but anything I had going for me seems to have long since scarpered. My skin looks like it's in some kind of race southward. But do you know what? I've still got the voice.
'Maurice,' your grandmother used to say, 'you could melt icebergs with that voice of yours.'
To this day it's like a cello – deep and smooth. Makes people pay attention. One holler to herself pretending to be busy out there at reception and she'd be in filling my glass quick smart. But I'd better not cause any more trouble than I need to. There's a job to do later and a long night ahead.
There's that smell again. I wish you were here, to get it: Mr Sheen. Remember that? Every Saturday, our whole house smelt of it. Your mother's day for the dusting. The sickliness of it used to hit my nose as soon as I came through the back door. I'd be sneezing from here to kingdom come for the rest of the night. Fridays now, Fridays were floor-polishing days. The waft of wax, homemade chips and smoked cod, warming my heart and making me smile. Industry and sustenance – a winning combination. You don't hear of people polishing floors much any more either. What's that all about, I wonder.
At last, a body appears from the door behind the bar to put me out of my thirst-ridden misery.
'There you are, now,' I say to Emily, a picture of beauty and efficiency. 'Here to save me the embarrassment of getting the drink myself? I was even contemplating going to ask Miss Helpful out there.'
'I got here just in time, so, Mr Hannigan,' she says, with a hint of a smile, laying down a pile of papers on the counter, checking her phone perched on top, 'we don't want you upsetting the staff with that charm of yours.' Her head lifts to look at me and her eyes sparkle for a second before settling on her screen again.
'That's just lovely. A man comes in for a quiet drink and this is what he gets.'
'Svetlana will be in now. We were just having a quick meeting about tonight.'
'Well, aren't you very Michael O'Leary.'
'I see you're in fine spirits,' she says, coming to stand in front of me, giving me her full attention now. 'I didn't know you were coming in. To what do we owe the pleasure?'
'I don't always ring ahead.'
'No, but it might be a good idea. I could put the staff on red alert.'
There it is – that smile, curling up, as delicious as a big dollop of cream on a slice of warm apple tart. And those eyes, twinkling with the curiosity.
'A Bushmills?' she asks, reaching for a tumbler.
'Make it a bottle of stout, to start me off. Not from the fridge mind.'
'To start you off?'
I ignore the worry that's crept into her voice.
'Would you join me for one later?' I ask, instead.
She stops and gives me a good long stare.
'Is everything alright?'
'A drink, Emily, that's all.'
'You do know I've landed the County Awards?' she says, hand on hip, 'not to mention a mysterious VIP who's decided to book in. Everything has to be perfect. I've worked too hard for this to —'
'Emily, Emily. There'll be no surprises tonight. I'd just like to sit and have a drink with you. No confessions this time, I promise.'
I slide a hand across the counter, my offering of reassurance. Can't blame the distrust, given the history. I watch it steal away her smile. I've never fully explained all that business with the Dollards to you and your mother, have I? I suppose in part that's what tonight is all about.
'I doubt there'll be a lull,' she says, standing in front of me now, still giving me the suspicious eye, 'I'll try to get back up to you, though.'
She bends slightly and takes a bottle of the good stuff with her expert hand from the fully stocked shelf below – one can't but admire the neat order of the bottles, their harped labels all turned proudly outwards. Emily's handiwork. She runs a well- ordered show.
A slip of a young thing arrives through the door to join her.
'Great,' Emily says to her. 'The place is all yours. Here, give this to Mr Hannigan there before he passes out. And you,' she continues, pointing one of her lovely long nails at me, 'be nice. Svetlana's new.' With that warning she picks up her load and disappears.
Svetlana takes the bottle, locates the opener under the bar with a little assistance from my pointing finger, lays the drink and a glass before me then scurries to the far corner. I pour a bit until the creamy head hits the top of the tilted edge and then I let it settle. I look around and consider this day of mine, this year, these two years in fact, without your mother and I feel tired and, if I'm honest, afraid. My hand passes over the stubble on my chin again as I watch the cream float up. Then I cough and grunt my worries out of me, there's no going back now, son. No going back.
To my left, through the long windows that reach the floor, I watch the cars go by. I recognise one or two: Audi A8, that would be Brennan from Duncashel, owns the cement factory; Skoda Octavia with the missing left hub will be Mick Moran. There's Lavin's jalopy parked right outside his newsagents. An ancient red Ford Fiesta. Gives me the greatest pleasure to park in that spot whenever I find it vacant.
'You can't be parking there, Hannigan,' he'd shout, hanging out his driver's window once he'd arrived back from wherever he'd been. 'I can't be expected to be lugging the deliveries up and down the town now, can I?' His head'd be bobbing madly with that mop of wild hair, his car double parked, holding up the town. 'Do you not see the sign? No parking, day or night.'
'Course, I'd be leaning against his wall, reading the paper.
'Hold on to your tights there, Lavin,' I'd say, giving the paper a good rustling, 'it was an emergency.'
'Is getting the morning paper considered an emergency now?'
'I can always bring my business elsewhere.'
'Oh, that you would, Hannigan. Oh, that you would.'
'The newsagents in Duncashel has a coffee machine now, I hear.'
'You can move your feckin' Jeep on your way over so.'
'Not one for the coffee me,' I say, clicking open my door before getting in and sticking her into reverse.
It's the simple things, son, the simple things.
It's the end of the shopper's shift it seems. Hands wave, horns beep. Driver windows are down with elbows sticking out, having the final chat before heading home with full boots to a night in front of the telly. Some of them might be back out later, of course, transformed into shiny things. Eager to show off the new outfits and hairdos.
I raise the glass and pour again until it's full, ready for its final rest. My fingers, with their dark, crust-filled crevices, tap the side, to encourage it on. I take one last look in the mirror, raise my drink to himself there and swallow down the blessed first sip.
You can't beat the creamy depth of a glass of stout. Giving sustenance to the body and massaging the vocal cords on its way down. That's another thing about my voice, it makes me come across as younger. Oh, yes, if I'm on the blower it doesn't let on that I host a hundred haggard wrinkles, or dentures that have a mind of their own. It pretends I'm a fine thing, distinguished and handsome. A man to be reckoned with. On that, it's not wrong. Don't know where I got it from – the only one in the family blessed with the gift. It was how I drew them in, those out-of-town estate agents; not that they needed much convincing, what with our farm being on the royal side of the Meath–Dublin border, the envy of all around.
But those boys with their swanky ties and shiny shoes couldn't get enough of the place when I told them how far and wide she ran; nodding their heads, like those dogs in the back of people's cars. Rest assured, I put them through their paces. Let no man try to take my money without earning every brass farthing. Walked the length and breadth of my land until they couldn't see the colour of their shoes. All of them as eager as the next to get the business. No flies on them cowsheds, as my father would have said. I chose one in the end to sell my little empire to the highest bidder, Anthony Farrell. Had to be him – not because he impressed me with his patter, one was no different from the other in that respect. Nor was it the canny curve of his lip; it was simply that he shared your Uncle Tony's name. Seventy years dead and I still idolise the man. Young Anthony proved me right in my choice, not stopping 'til he'd the house and business sold for a hefty sum. I closed her up last night, the house.
I've been packing up each room over the last year. A bit every day. I named each box so you'll know what's what: Maurice, Sadie, Kevin, Noreen, Molly – hers was the smallest. All that loading and lugging nearly killed me, though. Only for the young lads Anthony sent over, I'd never have managed. Their names won't come to me now, Derek or Des, or ... sure what does it matter? Mostly, I pretended to help; more the director of operations. They were well capable; you don't expect that of youngsters too often these days.
I kept the essentials out 'til this morning when Anthony took the last box in his car. It felt strange, Kevin, letting it all go. The smallness of that final box sitting in his passenger seat caught me. Not that there was anything precious in it, just the kettle, the radio, my few bits of clothes, shaving gear, you get the picture. I threw out what was left in the skip I hired. The Meath Chronicles were the last to get chucked. Never without the Meath Chronicle for the local mart news and the GAA results, even though I'd have watched the games on the Sunday. It was the local and county matches that interested me most. I must've had six months' worth of the thing piled up beside me on the sofa, in one big cascading mess by the end. Of course, when Sadie was around I'd have never gotten away with that. But, if I positioned them right, you see, they kept my tea at the perfect height. No sudden movements mind, not that there was any fear of that, I'm not as nimble getting off the couch these days.
Anthony is to store the boxes some place off near his office. Our lives in Dublin now – hard to believe. The important leftovers I have with me. In my inner breast pocket there's my wallet, a pen and some paper for the few notes, given my increasing forgetfulness. In the outer ones I have the hotel room key, weighty and solid; my father's brown and black pipe, never smoked by me but worn shiny and smooth from my thumb's persistent rubbing; a couple of pictures; a handful of receipts; my glasses; your mother's purse for her hairpins; my phone; and a couple of rubber bands, paper clips and safety pins – well, you never know when you might need them. And of course there's your whiskey, out of sight, wrapped up in the Dunnes Stores bag at my feet.
You'll be wondering about Gearstick, the dog. Bess, the cleaner, took him. Adam and Caitríona might be a bit upset by that. I know they loved playing with him on the trips home. Them with their leashes and him never been near one before in his life. Still he took it gracefully and walked under their guidance for the week or so you'd be around. A gentler soul, you wouldn't find anywhere.
Do you remember your mother when I got him first? But sure you were long gone by then. She was all: 'You can't be calling the poor wee thing Gearstick,' and him after chewing the gearstick in the car all the way home.
And I said:
'Sure what does he care?'
That was the first and only time he was ever in the house. Of recent months I've left the back door open, trying to coax him in. He'd reluctantly step over the threshold into the back hall, poking his head around the kitchen door but only to let me know he was there. Panting, he'd wait in expectation of some outing or other. No amount of cajoling with a bit of Carroll's sliced ham or even the fat of a rasher could bring him any further. I'd have been happy for him to sit with me as I watched the telly or even to just lie under the table when I was having dinner. But there was no budging him. I suppose I've not been afraid to raise a stick to him over the years so he wasn't going to risk it. In the end, he just lay down and slept on the muddied mat, drifting off listening to the muffled sounds of my life.
The day Bess came for him, she brought the whole family, husband and three children. All stood around smiling at each other, me doing my best impression of one, nodding and pretending we knew what the other was saying. They're from the Philippines; at least I think so, somewhere out foreign anyhow. The children bounded up and down the yard with Gearstick for a bit. He obliged, jumping and skitting alongside.
'What he eat?' Bess asked.
'Anything you have leftover.'
'You feed him dinner?'
'What's left, you know. A bit of bread soaked in milk, even.'
She looked at me, her brow contorting like I'd just farted. I could feel the will seep out of me.
'Anything, sure. Feed him anything.' I'd had enough. I stroked Gearstick's ear and watched his head tilt and his eyes close one last time.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "When All Is Said"
Copyright © 2019 Anne Griffin.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Read it in 2 days
My review doesn't seem in line with the general opinion of this book, so please take what I have to say with a grain of salt. Over the course of a single night, Maurice Hannigan has five drinks with five people who have impacted his life the most. I think if you've never read this kind of story and it would be fresh to you, or if you love Irish culture & character studies, this could be for you. It just didn't particularly take hold and shake me in the ways I expected. Having spent a month in Ireland and adoring these types of stories, I really expected this one to grab me. But I never quite got there. The ending seemed in sight from the first few pages. The writing is certainly good, without a doubt, but it landed somewhere between fictional writing and poetic prose. It never felt like it quite found its footing, and I found myself aching for writing that more consistently evoked emotion. I want to say thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
It's a tough topic, but the writer rounded out this character so well that I felt I could relate in some form to him and to this story. The ending is not a surprise, the reader knows it is coming from the beginning but after each toast I felt more acceptance/compassion for this plot ending.
I have to disagree with many of the reviews here. This book, at best was sentimental, at worse was depressing. Also, thought it was slow,, causing me to quickly find it boorish. Purchase, with caution.
This is one of the best novels I have read in a long time. It is the story of an elderly man who spends an evening in a hotel bar, one of some significance to him, and carefully, intentionally toasts the five most influential people in his life. In so doing, he reflects on the whole of his life, his strengths and weaknesses, his blessings and his regrets. I teared up several times, and also laughed out loud. I reread sections just to fix the character of Maurice Hannigan in my memory. While the novel could easily be described as a drama of two families through several generations, it is ultimately a character study of a man exceptional in his self-awareness and insight. Anne Griffin is a gifted writer. Her dialogue is so authentic you can almost hear the voices. Both the plot and characters are utterly unique. After reading this book, you too may think about the five most influential people in your life. Did you, are you, giving them the value they deserve? Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to read an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review.
When All Is Said by Anne Griffin is the most beautiful story of the beginning, middle and end of Maurice Hannigan's life. It's about what he loved, what he lost, how he loved and what he most regretted. Over the course of one night, 84 year old Maurice Hannigan sits and drinks at a bar in a hotel he knows only too well, and toasts the five most important people in his life before he goes up to his hotel room to go to sleep for the last time. Through each of the chapters we learn of his all consuming love for his brother and his wife Sadie who he lost two years ago to the day. The story follows his life including the heart wrenching loss of his child, Molly, who although she died before being born has been his moral compass for most of his life. We feel the longing he has to be with the love of his life Sadie, and how proud he is of his only child, a son Kevin. We empathize with him when he questions if perhaps be could have been a better husband and father. We feel his unspoken hate and revenge for a family he feels destroyed his own. We understand him when he talks about regrets. This is such a powerful book with so many lessons for one to take from it. You fall in love with Maurice and dread the book coming to its end, hoping there will be a different outcome. And then you cry. You feel as if you have lost a good friend. A remarkable story which you will keep in your heart.
Interesting Read. I was a First Read Winner of this book, and I pretty much knew it would be an emotional read from the description, but it was such an interesting premise I couldn't wait to get started. It was beautifully written and I liked the way the story unfolded, its not the most uplifting read but I am glad I went on the journey with Maurice. I know it will stay with me long after I have put the book aside.
This book is about an 84 year old remembering his life in Ireland. It’s divided into five parts, each part dedicated to someone that mattered and moulded him into the person he becomes. It was interesting to read something seen through the eyes of someone that is so different from me but at the same time, each chapter felt like we were having a conversation. It was the most intimist book I ever read. It goes all the way from his childhood in poor, rural Ireland to his last years when he is faced with widowhood and loneliness lightly covering all the problems Ireland faced and preferring to focus on what was happening in his life in consequence of that. One of the things I like the most was how him being a man of his time made a difference, the way he interacted with others and refused to share his thoughts and feelings mainly. The entire book is intrinsically Irish, from the vocabulary to the way the main character behaves and acts. Everyone that is Irish or has Irish friends will be able to recognize their humour in this. One way or another this book will make you feel something.
I loved this book. It was one that stays with you mentally long after the last page is read. It is hard to believe it is a debut novel. Taking place in southern Ireland, our story centers around eighty-four year old Maurice Hannigan, a successful farmer widowed for two years, father of Kevin who is a journalist in California, as he spends a night in the local hotel pub, toasting the five most important people in his life. The story is exquisite. The heart is right there, on page after page, and all you can do with it is read on. The people are fully characterized, all would be a boon companion for any one of us, and we understand exactly where they are coming from. This is a author to take seriously - I can't wait for her next tale. I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Anne Griffin, and Thomas Dunne Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
This was a moving and very quick read about a widower of two years who desperately misses his wife Sadie. The story takes place in Dublin, Ireland. Maurice Hannigan is 84 years old. As he sits at the bar of a local hotel nursing one of many whiskeys, he's toasting, reminiscing, and sometimes making amends with important people in his life. It's as if he's narrating his whole life (in his mind) to his adult son Kevin, who is a journalist living in the United States. I most enjoyed Maurice's recounting of his childhood. He lived on a small farm with his family where he idolized his older brother Tony. In fact, when asked as a child what he wanted to be when he grew up, he honestly and innocently answered, "Tony." He was looking forward to going to school but soon realized he had learning difficulties. Tony was very encouraging and supportive, and even when he himself graduated from school would take the time out to walk Maurice to school in the morning. It soon became evident that further schooling was futile and at a certain point the school master told Maurice's parents that he should abandon school and work on the farm. He also worked with his mother at the Dollard house, which figured hugely in his life. His mother used to work there early in the morning baking bread and also fancy pastries (if there was special company). Mr. Dollard was an alcoholic and extremely abusive towards his son Thomas. Thomas in turn would inflict his rage upon Maurice, when he could be found in close range. In fact, he left a scar on Maurice's face, but Maurice left an even bigger impression on Thomas in the end. In fact, Maurice would find himself in a love and hate relationship with the Dollard house, which later transformed into a hotel and bar. Even though Maurice struggled with school work, he found other means of becoming successful in life. He was a savvy deal maker and bought up many tracts of farm land in Dublin. However, two years into losing his beloved wife Sadie, he has liquidated everything and booked himself for a night in the honeymoon suite of the Dollard hotel. As Maurice reflects upon all the critical moments in his life, it's a very interesting and poignant journey with a tragic conclusion. Thank you to the publisher St. Martin's Press / Thomas Dunne Books for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.
This is a book with great depth and interest, the pace of which is kept alive by subtle humour of what is potentially a most disturbing condition of the protagonist, Maurice, who suffers so deeply from the loss of his wife. There are bits of Maurice within us all everywhere. Whether you find this book hilarious, sad, moving, comforting or bewildering will depend on you. What is certain is that you will not be unaffected by the many characters and events in it. Ms. Griffin's stories, in their simplicity and honesty, are an exercise in pleasure. Exploring the most ordinary concepts, she creates profound understanding, and even with the most difficult subjects, like life and death, she manages to make the tale uplifting. This is a story about love and life, simply and elegantly told. I found this book to be absolutely delightful, even though the theme isn't. There is sadness and heartbreak, happiness and many laugh out loud moments. It is extremely profound and deeply moving. This is a debut novel by Irish author Anne Griffin, and one I have no hesitation in recommending extremely highly. Overall I found the book a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Where do I begin? Beautifully and thoughtfully written.....words flow across the pages as a ballerina glides around a stage. Heartfelt tale of love and loss and angst. Questions to be posed..... how do we go on after we are left alone without our spouses? How do we reconcile regrets? How do we impress upon ourselves not to waste precious time and live in the moment? Read this book. It’s beautiful. Anne Griffin, you are a talented writer.
Brilliant! WHEN ALL IS SAID is achingly beautiful. I can employ all the superlatives, but they will not suffice, I suppose. So, let me try again… Brilliant! Maurice Hannigan is one solid farmer and family man. Rough on the edges and irascible at times, but appreciates hard work and recognizes a good soul. Tonight though, he’d be sitting alone, raising toasts to people who made his existence significant in distinctive ways, while exploring every nooks and cranny of his life –including his ghosts and regrets. Anne Griffin employed the simplest of language, unassumingly raw, but razor-sharp. From the blurb alone, I knew this book will be piercing, although, I was never prepared to bawl over it at two in the morning. With her words, it was not hard to like Maurice and relate to him –all 84 years of him. I felt this old man like I was there sitting next to him in that bar. "She was so self-contained that sometimes I think I missed the full extent of the hurt and guilt. I did my best to be on guard for it. But having spent half my life distracted by what was outside – my deals, my empire – I often forgot to see what lay inside and how precious it was." This is one of those books I never wanted to end. It did, nevertheless. It was done but verberates in echoes and booms. I highly recommend it.
When All is Said is a poignant and heartfelt novel. It is slow, flawed, and beautiful and I got emotional many times while reading it. Maurice sits at a bar alone looking back over his life and makes a toast to five people who influenced and changed his life: his brother, his daughter, his sister-in-law, his son, and his wife. He’s a cantankerous old man, in some ways reminiscent of Ove (A Man Called Ove), but where that book had dry humor this one is steeped in nostalgia. Early on you can see where it’s heading but when you get there, you’re still gutted. The writing is that of a seasoned author, yet I believe this is Griffin's debut book. I'm eagerly awaiting her next novel where I hope she can mend the broken heart she left me with.
5+ Stars. What a grand Irish tale and well done debut! I truly wanted to start at the beginning and read it again! Encouraged....Supported....and I'm betting Inspired by John Boyne, Anne Griffin has given me my first SUPER FAVORITE of 2019. LETS START WITH......The home....nursing home, that is...."What poor widow or widower living alone out there hasn't dreaded its arrival." NEXT.....meet Mr. Maurice Hannigan nicknamed "Big Man" by his beloved older brother, and get ready to travel through his tumultuous life from childhood to aging adult while he sits at a local hotel bar...alone...in a small Irish town ready to remember and toast the lives of five special people in his life. WHILE HE SHARES.....his memories, we meet family and friends....including Gearstick the dog, experience good times and tough times....grief and regrets. We even discover a few characters who aren't what we first thought them to be. Wonderfully told and memorable. Loved it! ***Arc provided by St. Martin's Press and Thomas Dunne books via NetGalley in exchange for review***
”A room is a still a room, even when there's nothin' there but gloom But a room is not a house and a house is not a home When the two of us are far apart And one of us has a broken heart” --A House is Not a Home, Luther Vandross, Songwriters: Burt Bacharach / Hal David Maurice Hannigan has lived eighty-four years as this story begins, sitting at the bar of the Rainsford House Hotel, Co. Meath, Ireland. He’s there to raise a toast to five people, all members of his family, in this place that has been a part of his life since he can remember. A trip down memory lane ensues, and you begin to piece the stories of his life together through these toasts as he wanders through these memories with each character from his past, all gone from his life with the exception of his son, who now lives in America working as a journalist. While these stories have an air of sentimentality to them, it is filtered through both humour and his truth about the life he has lived there, in the shadow of this now-hotel, formerly the home of his former employer, and the employer of his family members, as well. Maurice is a flawed individual, as are we all, burdened by his many regrets that he has managed to accrue through his years. One toast, one memory devoted to one person at a time, he expresses his love for each, his wish that he had done a better job, perhaps of expressing that love, perhaps, but seeking forgiveness for his faults. There is a reclusive edge to this man, which becomes apparent as he relays his story through these toasts to those people who continue to live on in his heart. Through his stories it is soon apparent that he has lived his life guarding his heart, showing his love in the only ways he’d been shown love – “the Irish kind, reserved and embarrassed by its own humanity.” Perhaps his biggest regret, that he had not shared his love in a way that showed his love for these people, who were so special to him, so as he toasts them he shares his love for them, at last. When I read about this book, it brought to mind a book that I had read three years ago and loved by Roger Rosenblatt, ’Thomas Murphy,’ another Irishman, and there is a bit of the charm that Thomas Murphy had about him in Maurice, both reminiscence on loss, love, life, death, aging and love. Having read this now, Maurice has lived a very different life than Thomas Murphy, which has given him a different view of life, perhaps, but it’s the love and tattered charm of both that kept me smiling through the tears. Many thanks for the ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press / Thomas Dunne Books
Wow! What a beautiful book. This gentle and thought-provoking book captures the story of Maurice, an 80-year-old widow as he sits in a hotel bar and looks back on life. His memories go back to the five people he most cherished and loved. Those cherished people however also provide a backdrop for the struggle and grief he has experienced and lived through. His story creates a rich tapestry of love and loss, pain, and joy. The book creates a quietness and tenderness that is a true gift to the reader. I thoroughly recommend “When All is Said”! I was privileged to receive a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher, St. Martin's Press, in exchange for an honest review.
I like this book. It is beautifully written. It is a story about an elderly gentleman, Maurice Hannigan. Maurice spends an evening in a bar thinking about the course of his life and the people with whom he has had the most profound emotional connections. It is a very touching and passionate book with a great story and great characters. I highly recommend this book. I was provided an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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.
An excellent title! An elderly gentleman living in Ireland sends a recording to his son in the United States from a bar stool, in which he reviews his whole life beginning with his childhood. Held together by excellent writing, his story becomes a family saga. There are beautiful memories of a wonderful life with his dear departed wife, and proud ones too of his amazing success as a businessman. But, mostly his heart is filled with sadness and regret at the failures in his personal life; especially with his son. He lingers in loneliness and depression with no hope of his life becoming better Throughout the story there are many instances of family values, family loyalty and family sense of responsibility. But, then there are lies, hatred, and revenge with no end in sight. The setting of Ireland, shows many of their customs and attitudes. To describe this book in an Irish expression- "Tis Grand"! You are definitely going to need tissues- so plan ahead!