When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
Publishing Date: 24th January 2019
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 272
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
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” introduces us to Maurice Hannigan, an 84 year old farmer, paying a final visit to Rainsford House Hotel. It is a place he’s got a lot of memories attached to, mostly unpleasant ones. As he sits at the bar, he toasts five special people in his life. People, who were his inspiration, who were significant to him, who actually shaped him, made him who he is. He tells things as they were, the good and the bad moments, all the mistakes he’s made and that he can’t forget.
Guys, this book simply feels so special – it’s a real gem, this one, and it’s really hard to believe it’s a debut novel by Anne Griffin. The author can so brilliantly well capture all the emotions and beautifully writes about feelings, and it had me captivated and glued to the pages from the very beginning till the end. It was touching, it was poignant, it was funny, and written in this special way that only Irish authors can.
I’ve had a gut feeling how it’s going to end and what Maurice’s plan is right from the start to be honest but still it hit me really hard. I really liked his character, and as the story is told from his point of view at the end he just felt like an old friend of mine. I loved the moments he has chosen to reminisce about, to re – visit again, and the group of people he talked about. They were all significant and special to him, and there was so much love in his words, it was really overwhelming and poignant. Maurice isn’t shy of telling things how they were and he also realises that he has made mistakes – but those were the things that shaped him as a man, as a person.
The writing style is exceptional. It’s flowing, it’s engaging, it’s Irish, warm, uplifting and heart – breaking at once. The author has a special way with words. It was so easy to see the connection Maurice had with all his significant people, his brother Tony, his daughter Molly, his sister – in – law Noreen, his son Kevin and finally, last but not least, his beloved wife Sadie. The bond between him and his brother Tony was a special one, Tony was always there for him, he supported his younger brother and was always there to protect him. He understood that Maurice’s strength lies perhaps not in reading but somewhere else. It’s no wonder that Maurice wanted to be Tony when he grows up… Sadie is the last person he toasts but it’s clear that he fell for her head over hills and it was her death two years before that simply broken him. Sadie was the only woman in his life, he loved her unconditionally and now it breaks his heart to see that there were times that he disappointed her, that he wasn’t there for her. Her sister Noreen, without knowing it, unintentionally and because of her love to “sparkle”, also had an impact on Maurice’s life. Then there is Molly, the daughter that has never been and Kevin, longed – for son who now lives in the States, is a journalist and provides his father with rare whiskies.
Maurice realises that he should have been a much more expressive man, that he missed his chance to tell the people he loved that he loves them.
It was a gorgeous, moving book where everything felt so normal, natural and down – to – earth, and also incredibly honest and genuine. It simply feels human and all the joy and dramas are relatable. It explores the important things in life, such as love, family and friendship, but also forgiveness, heartbreak and hope. It’s emotional, but you also find yourself smiling, often through tears and really, it’s so hard to do this book justice – it’s special, it’s unique, it’s a real gem written from the heart. Highly recommended!