On the Up by Alice O’Keeffe / Blog Tour

On the Up by Alice O’Keeffe

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 48269657._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 11.06.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

By reading Style magazine, I was training myself not to want things. It was going quite well. I had already found that I did not want a pair of Yves Saint Laurent mules, a chandelier made from plastic antlers, or a diamond-encrusted necklace in the shape of a pineapple. I was still working on not wanting a fitted farmhouse kitchen in warm wood.

Sylvia lives in a flat on a council estate with her not-quite-husband Obe and their two young children. She dreams of buying a house on a leafy street like the one she grew up in. If she closes her eyes, she can see it all so clearly: the stripped floorboards, the wisteria growing around the door…

It’s not ideal that she’s about to be made redundant, or that Obe, a playworker, is never going to earn more than the minimum wage. As sleep deprivation sets in, and the RnB downstairs gets ever louder, Sylvia’s life starts to unravel.

But when the estate is earmarked for redevelopment, the threat to her community gives Sylvia a renewed sense of purpose. With a bit of help from her activist sister, and her film-maker friend Frankie, she’s ready to take a stand for what she believes in.

Warm, witty and brilliantly observed, On the Up is about relationships and community, finding a way through the tough times, and figuring out what’s really worth fighting for.

Rating:  five-stars

 

Sylvia and her nearly husband Obe live in a council estate flat with their two young children – toddler Larkin and a few months old That Baby (also known as Elliot). She dreams of owning her own home, with a garden for the children, but they will never be able to buy it. Or maybe they will? Is this stinky, old, half – demolished house their salvation? Sylvia is really desperate to move, especially as they’re constantly disturbed by their neighbour Dawn, with loud music and partying. Sylvia keeps a journal for the councils Anti Social Behaviour Officer, that slowly turns into her logbook. And then comes the bombshell that Priory Court, where they live, will be sold for development – can things finally get better for the family?

Really, this book was absolutely brilliant in my opinion. It was so uplifting – yes, you’ve seen the characters struggling and even though they might have lost hope once or twice there was still so much optimism in them and in the way they were written that I simply didn’t want to leave their world. I don’t always need a rosy fictional world in my books, I really like when the story feels so realistic like this one, but there is still the chance of a happy ending. Yes, here the end was maybe too cheesy but other than that I adored this book.

The characters were really well observed and drawn and I warmed to them immediately. Sylvia and Obe are your normal characters, people we get to meet and see everyday, full of humour but also filled with sadness, being forced to face all your typical troubles and problems that life tends to bring with itself. Yes, Obe made me feel desperate sometimes, with his poetry and his calm aura and the “everything will be OK” attitude, but there was also a charm in it. I’ve immediately felt a connection with Sylvia and I could truly relate to her dreams, needs and desperation, I’d go crazy with such a neighbour as Dawn with my perfect pitch – I need silence to be able to sleep! Even though, as Obe might have pointed out, Sylvia’s needs are an endless cycle of want, I couldn’t blame her for wanting something more from life, for wanting something better. Their relationship was really well captured, showing their real struggles, as parents and as a couple.
I also really liked the supporting characters, even though we don’t get to know them really well, and it was great to see them coming together after the news broke that Priory Court is going to be sold off for re – development and they’re going to lose their homes.

The author is a brilliant observer of reality – she sees things as they really are and delivers them with wit, humour but also brutally honest. She wrote a book that shows a real life, but not in a desperate, grey, sad way. Even though it might not have been heavy emphasised in writing, it showed that there is usually a way out of troubles, and it did it in an entertaining way. It was simply warm, inviting and full of feel – good factor despite the fact that the characters’ lives were not beds full of roses. After reading the synopsis and the part that the Priority Court may be sold and that it immediately rises the community spirit I was afraid that it may be overdone in the story, that it will feel too cheesy and clichéd but I really like how the author has tackled this topic.

“On the Up” was warm and funny, sometimes touching and poignant read focusing strongly on family, friendships, relationships and community. It felt a little nostalgic but maybe it is the writing style? It was truly brilliant, light and engaging, and it didn’t sound like a debut. It was a witty and deep observation on what is important in life that I enjoyed from beginning to end – highly recommended!

 

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The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis / Blog Tour

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 45242737._sy475_

Publishing Date: 7th November 2019

Series: Brontë Sisters Mystery #1

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Mystery, Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 14.05.2020)

 

 

Synopsis:

Before they became legendary writers, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, and Anne Brontë were detectors in this charming historical mystery…

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…

Rating: four-stars

 

I loved the idea in “The Vanished Bride”, bringing the Brontë sisters and their works back to life. They become a setting of this mystery, in which a young woman, mother and stepmother, simply vanishes from her room in Chester Grange estate, leaving behind so much blood that not many hope for her to be alive.
Emily, Charlotte and Anne are spending summer in their father’s house. And they are bored. So when they hear that a young wife has disappeared, under gruesome circumstances, they decide to solve the mystery, becoming “Lady Detectors”, especially as Matilda French, an old friend, works as a governess in Chester Grange, so they not only wish to comfort her but they are, let’s be honest, curious. And so they set out to visit their friend, also determined to help to find the truth.

The story takes place before the Brontës wrote their classic works and it was such a clever idea – we know that they’re going to be immortal in their works but they didn’t know it yet, and don’t you think that much of this mystery hints at the novels that they have written? The author described them as curious, if not nosy, clever, different and bold personalities. The Brontë sisters work well as Lady Detectors – how charming is it? – pursuing the truth in this case of menace and deception, and they all prove themselves very adept, even though each of them has different fortes. Emily is bold, straightforward and all action. Anne is charming but also thoughtful and methodical and Charlotte is a bit sceptic but in her element when dealing with people. They simply come to life with their actions, their sibling banter but also reality and honesty to each other. They take it in turns to tell the story, which was a great and interesting idea, as it gave a chance to see different points of view and appreciate their own strengths.
Maybe I am not a devoted fan of the Brontës, but even I am intrigued by the lives of the sisters and it was lovely to be in their world for a while. The author has so well captured their personalities – even though I can’t be sure if that was all right, but oh my, it’s historical fiction, right – writing about their conflicts, joys, past and closeness to each other.

I have to admit, it was not too easy for me to get into this book, and I think it was probably because of the writing style. It was lovely – please, don’t get me wrong, it was lyrical, almost poetic, and it was so easy to imagine the bleak isolated house and the moors – but it was also very adequate to the times the book was set in, and so the syntax, the way the words and phrases were arranged was very Brontë – like but not so easy to read.

The mystery was really, really well plotted and executed, it was intriguing and kept me hooked, and well, yes, with my own detective skills I haven’t figured this all out, but I’m OK with it, as it’s always nice to have a surprise ending, right? Sure, now I can see that there were hints and clues leading up to the ending but I was probably too immersed in reading to spot them then.

Bella Ellis has delivered a unique and atmospheric story, effortlessly and quickly transporting the readers to Victorian England, meticulously researched and capturing the essence of the times, place and characters. This book had essentially all that you need to say that it’s a great read. The characters felt real and realistic, the plot was complex and clever, the pace was just right, unfolding well, there was enough humour to brighten the reading, there was mystery, intrigue and atmospheric setting. It was engaging and embedded in truth, brilliantly interweaving the fictional elements and fantastic descriptions of some truly macabre incidents and jaw dropping moments. The story also deals with some important and uncomfortable issues that women of those times were forced to face. Their lives have been controlled by their fathers and husbands which often ended in domestic abuse, but also infant mortality and, altogether, lack of help and lack of status of women in the society back in the days. An engaging, interesting story and I’m already looking forward to reading the next books in this series. Truly recommended!

 

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The Swap by Fiona Mitchell / Blog Tour

The Swap by Fiona Mitchell

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 45180031._sy475_

Publishing Date: 19th September 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 304

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) 

Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

***The second novel from Fiona Mitchell, author of the stunning The Maid’s Room***

Two women. Two children. But whose is whose?

When two strangers, Tess and Annie, undergo IVF at an American clinic, their embryos are mixed up and each woman gives birth to the wrong child.

The women only discover the devastating error three years later. Tess wants to swap the children back; Annie doesn’t. As the pair wrangle, neither of them expect what unfolds.

my-review

 

In America, 3 years ago, Annie and Carl had IVF and became parents to a beautiful girl Willow. In the same place, at the same time, Tess and Matteo, who live in Surrey in England, underwent the same procedure and got Freddie. Freddie, however, doesn’t look like their other sons and has behavioural problems, and moreover, they opted for the gender selective IVF and were promised to have a girl. Tess has never bonded with her youngest, so when after an accident blood tests come back with the information that they couldn’t be Freddie’s biological parents, she’s not surprised. But what has happened? Whose child is Freddie? And can it be that Tess has daughter that she doesn’t know about?

I must admit it, I was waiting holding my breath to see how the story is going to end, what is going to happen. It was an unimaginable situation, I was all the time asking myself what I would do if something like this happened to me and I’ve never found an answer, this is why I was so intrigued to see which way did the author choose. The tension, the uncertainty were absolutely unbearable. That is, until one moment, a moment when something happened and one of the characters changed her mind, and I though, and? Is this it? For me, the story declined in this moment, lost it impact and yes, I felt disappointed. It’s a shame, because I was hoping for something different. I am not saying that I was expecting THE answer, because probably any answer would be the wrong one, I simply was hoping for something different after such thought – provoking, controversial story. I think i was waiting for a catastrophe to happen, for things to explode, for confrontations and decisions, and I think this is it what the story lacked.

 I was generally curious about this book. Being a mum myself I was interested in feelings and emotions of all involved – I wasn’t expecting drama, but real people with real emotions. However, it never moved above a certain level of emotions – and just imagine this whirlwind of feelings you will for sure go through after finding out that your IVF has worked only to discover three years later that you were given the wrong embryo and you’re raising – theoretically – a strange child. Right? Heart – break guaranteed. But the characters, Annie and Tess, weren’t easy to read and honestly they were a bit too emotionless about this whole situation, and it was really difficult to engage with them. They were both very different characters, Annie warm and inviting, Tess cold and unwelcoming but I couldn’t bond with any of them, not sure why.  And at one point I stopped feeling sympathy to these women. 

The writing style was lovingly adjusted to the story’s subject matter. It was delicate, subtle and never judging but clear and compassionate. The contrast and the differences between the families were sharply captured, making you think what would be better for the children. I was also all the time wondering how, actually, could it ever be possible to perhaps give up your child after bonding with them for years, because someone made a mistake? Yes, sometimes the narration felt too overdone, sometimes it was too descriptive or focusing on things that were irrelevant to me and the dialogues felt too artificial.

But it was not only a story about swapping embryos. It touched upon many other, heavy and difficult issues, such as gender selection IVF, child behaviour, grief, and altogether, it was impactful, challenging novel and the way the characters reacted, and how their reactions contrasted, added tons of dimension to it. It was intense and insightful and very well handled,  thought – provoking and not easy but different story that is going to make you think, to make your thoughts go overdrive.

 

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Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby / Blog Tour

Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby

 

515nmsferxl._sx328_bo1204203200_Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 338

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

When a mini-break becomes make or break…

Kathy Courage has never visited the famous Italian city of Florence before, so she’s thrilled when she and her boyfriend Neil are invited there for a wedding. Unfortunately, with Neil’s constant complaining and his teenage children in tow, it’s not exactly the romantic break Kathy was hoping for.

But when a mix-up with her flights leaves Kathy stranded in the city, she decides to embrace the unexpected and stay on alone.

What follows is a life-changing few days in the Tuscan sun, as Kathy begins to question the choices that have led her here. With the help of the colourful Innocenti family, who offer Kathy a place to stay, she gradually begins to realise that there’s a much bigger world out there, if only she can be brave enough to explore it.

Could Italy hold the answers to her future happiness? Or is Kathy destined to return to her old life?

Rating:  five-stars

 

Kathy Courage has always wanted to visit Florence – her parents spent their honeymoon there, fell in love with the city and promised to take her there but it never happened, and now her father is dead so it’s too late. But is it really? Kathy and her boyfriend Neil are invited to a wedding – in Florence! Kathy is thrilled but, sadly, her plans to spent a lovely time with Neil didn’t turn out like she hoped and the whole trip is one huge disappointment. However, the mix – up with the flight home means that Kathy stays three whole days in Florence, alone! Will she find the courage to enjoy the city alone? Will an accident, that leaves her depending on the kindness of some strange Florentine family, make her look at her life differently? 

Chrissie Manby’s books brilliantly balance dry humour with poignant moments but this time I had a feeling that this novel, as much as still with those wonderful funny moments, was overall more serious in tone. It doesn’t mean that it was wrong, because the author really knows how to make her stories seamlessly flow, keeping me glued to the pages.

This story, albeit with a wonderful storyline, was – in my eyes – very character oriented, and they were brilliantly written, so easy to adore or to love to hate. I think they were written intentionally this way and you simply couldn’t help yourself but despise Neil and his family, and the more I got to know them, the more I disliked them all – a very self – centred, egoistic family and I couldn’t wait for Kathy to do something about it – because she has already noticed their true colours, it was only a matter of time – at least I hoped so! Really, they were hardly bearable and utterly unpleasant, and the Innocenti family, that almost adopted Kathy, looks in comparison even more friendly and wonderful and warm – because they were like this. 
Kathy was an immediately likeable character, even though she let others to treat her like a doormat, and usually I would roll my eyes at her and tell her, get a grip woman, but she was different. I fell under her spell and I had a feeling there is much more in her than meets the eye. She was so brilliantly fleshed out, felt like a living, breathing person, with all her fears, excitement, hope. Yes, I was asking myself all the time, why is she with Neil but I also could understand her, although the more I got to know him, and his actions that he’s done “for Kathy”, the more I wanted her to bang his head on the wall. But other than that, I found Kathy a great, interesting, gentle and real character.
The Innocenti family was absolutely fabulous, especially Manu when trying to learn Kathy speak Italian, and even the smelly little dog – they all had a place in this story and made it much more colourful with their huge personalities. What I also liked in this book was the fact that it didn’t feel like another Florence tourist guide. Sure, there were descriptions of this gorgeous city, vividly bringing it to life, but they were more of the behind – the – scenes sort of places that I truly enjoyed, showing the real life thanks to the Innocenti family.

This story is full of fun and drama, another captivating winner from Chrissie Manby. A real page – turner with a sweet, blossoming romance, with some ups and downs and it brilliantly shows Kathy’s ways to rediscover herself, to be brave to find the courage for being herself.

This book is written in such easy, comforting way,  I just couldn’t stand the thought that I must put it down for a moment, I was so caught up in the characters’ lives, their antics and their banter – it was all perfect! I have enjoyed every single page of this book and, you know this feeling, when finishing a novel makes you both happy and sad? Happy because you’ve read a great story, and sad, because it came to an end? It was this kind of book, a wonderful, moving novel with fabulous characters, the right balance of everything I was looking for in it, and gorgeous setting. Highly recommended!

 

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Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

 

cover155084-mediumPublisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 13th June 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

Synopsis:

The incredibly moving and uplifting new novel from the author of The Man I Think I Know.

Kerry Hayes knows exactly who she is: a single mum, a cleaner and Mariah Carey’s biggest fan.

Noah Martineau thinks he knows who he is: a successful barrister, with a wife, daughter and big house in Primrose Hill.

Strangers with nothing in common.
Strangers living worlds apart.

But it wasn’t always this way…and Noah and Kerry are about to discover just who they really are.

Rating: five-stars

 

Kerry is a hardworking single mother, raising her beloved son Kian. Life for her has never been easy. She was put into care as a child and changed foster families like you change your gloves, ending up in a home. Getting pregnant after few years of reckless and dangerous living made Kerry change her perspectives. She was determined to give her son the loving, stable home she has never had, even if his father is not interested in him. The only other person that Kerry has loved as much as her son was her little brother Jason, taken into care and then being adopted. Unable to find him, Kerry started to write letters to him via adoption agency. However, Jason is now Noah Martineau, adopted into a white middle class family, and he has been given any opportunity that he cleverly took the chance. He’s a barrister with his own perfect family, or at least it looks like this, and he actually never wanted to know about his previous life. So when a litter from Kerry arrives, he couldn’t be more than surprised. Will he get in touch with his sister? He has no idea that for Kerry it may be the matter of life and death.

In this character – driven novel the characterisation is absolutely perfect. It is told from Kerry and Noah’s perspectives, and they both have distinctive, strong voices. The way they tell their story makes you quickly immersed and engaged in their lives and I immediately found myself rooting for them both, sitting at the edge of my seat and biting my nails. Kerry was absolutely brilliant, down – to – earth, realistic characters, who, despite life not being a garden full of roses, didn’t lose her sparkle, her love to colours and Mariah Carey. Noah was great, clever and realistic, and there so much to him that you could think at first.
Watching their relationship develop was like an emotional rollercoaster ride, with all its ups and downs, so incredibly uplifting but also sad, as there were so many challenges thrown under their feet. It was moving, it was poignant and it simply felt SO. REAL.

It was absolutely Mike Gayle at his best – he’s back in the best form ever and “Half a World Away” only shows his real talent. It is a book that’s going to pull you in immediately from the start, a story that’s going to break your heart and give you tons of hope. It’s emotional, it’s full of feelings, heart and soul, it’s bitter – sweet, raw and honest, brilliantly written and touching family saga with a difference.
It was a beautiful, tugging at the heart – strings but also not too wishy – washy and overdone story about family dynamics, about choices, letting go and learning to hold on. The author touched upon many difficult issues but he does it with easy humour and gentleness, and this plus the great characterisation made me feel a part of this story. Mike Gayle is a great observer of a human nature and he can effortlessly and eloquently put his observations into words. Actually, guys, you should simply treat yourself and read it the book asap. Highly recommended!

 

Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly

Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly

 

42427478Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Psychological Suspense

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 19.03.2020)

 

Synopsis:

Erin Kelly, master of suspense, returns with her next thrilling standalone featuring an abandoned mental asylum and the secrets it holds.

Marianne was never supposed to return to town, the town where she grew up in the shadow of the Nazareth Mental Hospital. Her mother may be suffering from dementia nearby, but she had thought she’d left that place, and its dark secrets, behind her. That is, until her husband buys a flat in its newly renovated interior so that she can be close enough to help her mother, and Marianne can’t tell him why the place fills her with such dread, she can’t risk destroying the careful life she’s built. Erin Kelly, the master of suspense, will delight fans with her next thrilling novel of psychological suspense.

Rating: four-stars

“Stone Mother” was used as a term for an asylum. Such a mental hospital was the heart of a small town of Nusstead in Suffolk, that is, until it was closed, leaving many of the town residents unemployed. Now apartments have been built where the hospital used to be and Marianne’s husband Sam surprised her, buying one of them. Marianne is spooked and agitated but the reasons for her feelings are different to those you could think about… There is her ex – boyfriend Jesse involved, there is an old scandal and a successful but loathed politician. What do they all have to do with Marianne? And why is she so scared of living in the so – called “Park Royal Manor”?

This was a complex story told through different timelines. Rather of a slower pace, especially the first part, and to be honest I had some difficulties to get into it, which made me start to panic actually, and I think that mostly it was because there were so many detailed descriptions of the Nazareth hospital – there was more hospital than the actual story. And, well, I couldn’t connect with Marianne – no particular reason, she just felt too meh, too spineless, and Jesse made me feel desperate. However, when the story changed the narrator, it also speeded up and then there was nothing that could drag me away from the book and I was drawn into the characters’ lives.

The story is split into four parts and each part is told from a different point of view. This was not a bad idea, though it was also a bit risky – in my opinion, of course – because Marianne and her long, long story was the first one to be told. As I’ve just mentioned, I had problems with this character, with some of her decisions and I was getting frustrated and scared by the end of part one – scared that I’ll have to give up. For me, the real rollercoaster started with Helen and her story. Helen was probably the most interesting and compelling character in this book for me, she had something to tell, something to hide, the way she was was absolutely intriguing – she has saved the book for me.

Erin Kelly has brilliantly captured the atmosphere of the abandoned hospital. Creepy and dark, it gave me chills, and not only when it was abandoned, oh no, but especially when there were still patients and this setting of the mental hospital worked really well as a backdrop to the characters.
I’ve only read “He Said/She Said” by this author before and it blew my mind to be honest, so I was expecting something like this book again, and it took me by surprise as “Stone Mothers” was totally different. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad, of course. What is the same though is the brilliant writing style, so chilling, intense and intelligent, and the way Erin Kelly creates her characters and writes a character – driven drama.There were turns, twists and events that made my heart stop for a beat, guys. Not many of them but when they came, they were so well crafted, they were absolutely unexpected and unsettling.

This novel has a complex, complicated storyline and it took its time to eventually untangle all the secrets and Erin Kelly is a very skilful writer, with her beautiful prose and the way with words. “Stone Mothers” touched upon many issues, mental health being only one of them. There were lies that tied the characters together, secrets and blackmail, coming of age, poverty and revenge. It was also about women and concern about their mental health, their freedom and their choices. In the end, I’ve learnt to appreciate the long haul and the mystery was very well written, the way it evolved was complex and captivating. It was powerful and it was touching and I really enjoyed it. Recommended!

 

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

 

42900679Publisher: Sceptre

Publishing Date: 24th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 272

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 17.10.2019)

 

Synopsis:

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.

Rating: five-stars

 

“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!