Cover Image: When All is Said

When All is Said

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Member Reviews

A heartbreaking and heartwarming story, beautifully told.  Maurice, an old man now, sits at the bar toasting the most important people in his life, all of whom have passed away bar his son.  He visits his past life through his memories of each of them, regretting words not said and often those he did say.  Maurice is a flawed human being - difficult, grumpy, tight-fisted - all by his own admission.  We learn through his retelling of his life how loved he was, however.  His parents, brother and sisters, wife and son, loved him and cared about him.  His problem was that he found it difficult to show them he felt the same way.  We learn why he is the way he is and why he couldn’t change himself.

Beautifully written in the way only the Irish can write, this story tugged at my heartstrings the whole way through.  From his childhood, Maurice remembers his mother laughing when she saw a banana for the first time.

“My mother looked at it and laughed.  Clear and melodious it was, like a song thrush.  As each member of the family arrived to see the peculiar-looking fruit, my mother’s laugh started up once more.  I willed others to come so she wouldn’t stop.  I moved as close to her as I could, to taste and feel her happiness.  I remember my head pushed in against the material of her apron, closing my eyes to hear her joy and feel her body vibrate.  Irresistible.”

An easy 5 stars from me and I look forward to reading more by Anne Griffin.  With thanks to Hodder & Stoughton/Sceptre and NetGalley for a free review copy.
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This is the story of Maurice Hannigan, as told by himself, as he toasts five of the people he loves the best in a local hotel one Saturday evening, two years after the death of his wife. Maurice is set in his ways, rough around the edges, sharp and shrewd but as he considers his life and his loves he re-evaluates choices long made and a character long-settled and wonders if things might have been different, if he could have been different.

It’s no wonder that When All Is Said sparked a four-way bidding war between publishers. While Anne Griffin’s roots as an award-winning short story writer can be seen in the episodic structure of the narrative (any one chapter would be a beautifully self-contained story in its own right) it’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel. The self-assured writing, so confident in its style and voice is what makes it so powerful and so convincing, that this isn’t the voice of 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan is hard to believe.

The toasts are a clever device, as well as an intensely moving one. They help to break up the stream-of-conscious narrative, telling each story in turn, though not consecutively, and slowly bringing out the connections between people and events and allowing Maurice (and his reader) to reconsider aspects from different angles and see things afresh. This is the very heart of the story as he measures himself against those he has loved the best, and even those he has hated, and considers how they have helped to make him the man his is. There is an often brutal honesty in his evaluation and a lack of sentimentality and self-pity that sometimes bleeds into something like self-loathing but his recollections and his regrets are suffused with such love that it never becomes overwhelmed by bitterness.

Maurice is haunted by regrets and mistakes and even his former triumphs and his character is so multi-facets, flawed and ultimately human that he stays with you long after the story comes to a close. This is a story about love and loss, family and grief with a wonderful texture of time and character. It is a heart-breaking but far from humourless study of humanity and happiness and the difficult road of both.
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I really enjoyed this book. What a character Maurice is. It was a joy to read, full of hope, dreams, love, loss, regret, whatifs.  So well written. I would thoroughly recommend this book. Thanks to Netgalley for my free copy.
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Thankyou to NetGalley, Hodder And Stoughton and the author, Anne Griffin, for allowing me the privilege of reading an advanced readers copy of When All Is Said in exchanged for an honest and unbiased opinion.

When I first saw the cover of this book then read the premise of the story, I knew it was a book that I wanted to read. I am so thankful for being given this opportunity.

But, I feel I cannot give a proper review of this novel. How do you describe literary perfection? And it is not very often that you read a debut novel of this calibre. 

I fell in  love with the central character from the very beginning as he raises a glass to five people in his life that helped shape him into the man he became. I experienced a myriad of emotions while I furiously turned the pages. I found it impossible to put down, reading until the early hours of the morning to finish the whole novel. 

I am genuinely lost for words. There is nothing I could possibly say to give When All Is Said the justice it deserves.
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Thank you to NetGalley and publishers for the ARC.
This book is fascinating, captivating, and so well-written.  An elderly father, drink in hand, recounts his life to his absent son.  From his poorest of childhood beginnings, to his current prosperity, his story unfolds using five toasts to recognize the most important people in his lifetime, his relationships, the decisions he had taken and consequences explained.  With good reason he was a driven man, but there are surprising twists along the way.
Touching, emotive writing.
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This is a beautiful well written book.   The main character Maurice going over his life.  The chapters were long, but I couldn’t leave it halfway through.  Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the read.   Would thoroughly recommend this book to friends.
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I really enjoyed this book is was well written with great characters, it was a very touching read and I found myself unable to put it down.
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Poignantly beautiful, heart breaking, touching story.  84 year old Maurice toasts a glass to 5 of the people who has had the most impact on his life and with each toast, he tells his life story.  At 84, Maurice has embraced love, life, pain, hurt, defeat, revenge and sweet victory.  Maurice tells of how he began as the youngest son of a poor farmer, misunderstood in his dyslexia, going into service for the cruel wealthy Dollards, his anguish and regrets at the many deaths and losses and finally, the wealthy and successful man that he becomes in the end.  Well written, it pulls at your heart strings.  Wow, what a book!  This is one book that I will remember for a long time to come.
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I started reading this book and really wasn't too sure about it from the first few pages however it really captures you in! 

The story flits back and forth in Maurice's life and everything that has brought him to the point he is at now. 

Emotive and enjoyable.
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My thanks to Sceptre of Hodder and Stoughton and Net Galley for giving me the opportunity to read and review When All Is Said.
I'm here to remember - all that I have been and all that I will never be again.'
The story begins with an ordinary man sitting alone in the bar of a hotel, situated in a town in Ireland. At 84 years of age, Maurice Hannigan begins to look at his life and at the people and things that got him through it and what meant the most to him. He wants to tell his story, mostly to his son Kevin. The novel is like a letter to his son and in that letter, he raises his glass to five people who live in his memory. The stories, though individual in the telling, are all intertwined. His words are heartbreaking, thoughtful, moving and warming. This is a beautifully written novel, one that will certainly stay in my mind. Perhaps we all feel like Maurice Hannigan when we are in the winter of our lives. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
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I accidentally happened upon this book, and what a lucky accident it was. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Maurice’s life. On the one hand a grumpy old man, on the other a sensitive creature who has experienced love and loss, joy and sorrow. It would have been so easy when writing a fictional autobiography of an Irishman of a certain age to fall into the use of stereotypes and cliché. Anne Griffin has cleverly avoided them, and created a wonderful story. I finished When All Is Said with tears in my eyes and on my Kindle. Congratulations to Anne Griffin on an exceptional debut novel.
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Just WOW. Wasn’t sure what to expect but this book was so emotional and just kept me hooked. I can’t remember the last time a cried at the end of a book when you guessed what the outcome would be but this is beautifully written and an amazing story.
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A lovely idea for a book in the vein of a man called Ove and The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper but for me, with a little less of the charm, I'm afraid.

There's something poignant however about it taking place at this hotel. It's got that feel that you would have if you sat at a bar and had a nice old friendly Irishman tell  you his lifestory. I mean this in a good way as I love getting people's life stories. And we all have them. Just not as eventful as Maurice! A roaring fire, a pint in hand, and time to put the world to rights and say thank you to the people you meet along the way. The style is nice as the old man 'speaks' to his son who is miles away in America.

It did read a bit long for me and whilst it wasn't my kind of read in the end, I appreciated a good, heartwarming novel of nostalgia and lessons we could all learn from.
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Thank you so much for the advance copy of this book.  It was so good. I found it a little difficult to review as I really didn't want to give anything away, it's for the reader to find out and enjoy as each part of Maurice's life is revealed as he moves on from one toast to the next.  This is my review:

I would describe it as a fictional auto biography.  It is difficult to say much about the story as I wouldn’t want to give anything away.  It is best told, from the beginning by the man himself Maurice Hannigan.  He tells a good tale, and in his head he tells what is his life story to his son as if he’s there with him.  Instead it’s the reader who listens and you really are in for a treat.

As in the description above it is a heart warming, very often poignant story.  It carries you along on a tide of emotion as you experience both the highs and the lows of all that has made Maurice who he is today.

It was very well written, completely absorbing with long chapters but such a compelling story that I had to keep reading til the next chapter no matter what else I was supposed to be doing. I would definitely read another book by this author it was a lovely read, but very sad in places.
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‘When All is Said’ is set in the ‘Rainsford House Hotel Rainsford Co. Meath, Ireland’ as Maurice Hannigan, a successful elderly farmer, announces at the beginning of the novel.  This building becomes increasingly relevant as the story unfolds for it is here that Maurice has met some of those who have most influenced him over the course of his long life.  His tale is structured as one of five toasts to those whom he cares about most and, as he pays tribute to them, we learn what has made him the man he is.
The narrator’s voice is utterly individual and clear throughout the novel.  Resilient and stubborn, he is a successful business man.  Whilst not always likeable we cannot help but admire his honesty as he looks back on his life and ponders the decisions he has taken and the mistakes he has made.  Anne Griffin’s ability to make the reader care about a man who has made plenty of poor choices is constant throughout.  Whilst he can be cruel and unforgiving, he is also kind and charming, sensitive and generous.
The many disparate themes woven into the narrative remind us that life throws us plenty of challenges to cope with.  And yet Griffin does not inflate these challenges to unrealistic proportions.  The writer is merely reminding us that ordinary people cope with caring for relatives, hidden learning difficulties, family duties and loneliness day in and day out because the business of living demands that we do.  
This is a moving, inspiring, sometimes shocking, sometimes amusing portrait of how people live.  It is irrelevant that it’s set in twentieth century Ireland, that it focuses on a rural community and is told in the voice of an octogenarian.  What we learn when all is said and done is that love is the thing worth living for above all else.
Thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review.
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