Cover Image: When All is Said

When All is Said

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Member Reviews

Being in the same position myself it was most interesting to share into someone else’s end life.  A man sits on a bar stool in a posh hotel contemplating his life and times lived as a Irish farmer in a rural community. During his lifetime he has progress from being just a labourer to a land owning farming tycoon. His thoughts dwell on the four most important people that enhanced his life and weaving though it all those that hurt him the most. A long story about love, retribution, recompense, and a man’s efforts to square the circle.
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How I loved this book! Without a sgadow of a doubt my favourite one this year. A book-length monologue, delivered by an 84-year-old Irish farmer in a hotel bar and addressed to his absent son...hmm, I hear you having doubts. But the voice of Maurice Hannigan, raising a toast to each of the five people that shaped his life, this candid laying-open of all the wrinkles of his years captivated me as no other story has done for a long time. A most powerful tale of hidden feelings, revenge, love, grief and determination. And no doubt it will linger long after having finished this book.
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This is storytelling as in the oral tradition, with our elderly narrator reflecting on his life and the changing times in rural Ireland, before and after the Celtic Tiger boom.  As he relates his story in a letter to his absent son, we relive all the highs and lows with him.
It is a timeless tale, where 'a poor lad makes good’  as in folklore - and one that could have been written by H E Bates or even Thomas Hardy, but written as if spoken in the lyrical Irish vernacular that you can ‘hear’ as you read. The characters are so well-written (especially the beloved older brother) that the story held my interest throughout, despite the often heartbreaking events and inevitable conclusion. Have your box of tissues handy.
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This book is a sublime. It is superbly written and I loved how the words swirled in my head as I was reading.

Maurice Hannigan an 84 year old farmer revisits his life while sitting in a bar in the Rainsford House Hotel,.

It is just a beautiful and enigmatic tale, that I couldnt help but love. Maurice is an amazing man and I loved 'sitting alongside him' as he recounts the people who has shaped his life and his struggles. 

beautiful, sad and just terrific
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Despite being quite a slow paced read I found it to be a beautiful one. It's a story of love, life, growth and everything else. 
Highly recommended
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Maurice is a widower who is grieving for his wife.  The book is written as a letter to his son who lives in US.  Maurice is reflecting on his life. He is a likeable, selfish and flawed man. The book appealed to me, I felt it was a well written yarn. Easily read. There is no plot as such, just a series of memories. Although the end is predictable it didn't detract from the novel.
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An interesting first novel, but not one I ever felt was a real success.  You can go elsewhere for spoiler-heavy reviews, but I didn't really ever believe the whole plot where the certain MacGuffin was concerned – just to pass a young man's infatuation with it off as hard to explain, doesn't make it work as such an important story device, and all that it leads to is undermined. As for the authorial style, it's fine, until it seems to want to be funny and fails, as with his Irishman abroad scenes in the US.  Finally, however rich the intertwined family sagas may be, as fate circles round two contrasting households and weaves her web, the biggest problem remains the end.  However affecting the last few pages may be, the fact remains we can see them coming from the first few, and there is not enough to keep that hindrance from overloading my response to this book.  There is some decent stuff here, with an approach to conveying the last century of Ireland's social and economic history that her mentor John Boyne has in spades, but that structure was a bit of a kiboshing for me.  Which was a shame.  I'll ignore a few smidgens of stars and round it up slightly to three.
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A loveable character Maurice who reminded me of past people in my own life. A lovely story of life that shines a light on loneliness when our partner is no longer around to share the simple things that we take for granted. A nice quick read, well done to Anne Griffin on a well written book that touches the heart.
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Anyone who has read John McGahern or Bernard  McLaverty will just LOVE this. The characters are both stereotypical but totally engaging. We have met these folk before on the pages of a dozen great books about Ireland. I could smell the place it was so sharply drawn. Our main character is a man of the land and an unremarkable man at that. The story is like a fairy tale in its imagery and simplicity but you will NOT want to put it down. The cruelty of society and the dominance of one class over another just a few short years ago is stark and shocking. Sadness leaps from every chapter but the iron will of our hero overcomes all that.. I felt part of the story as an onlooker rather than a reader and that is RARE. And even when the end is signposted it comes as both a surprise but logical conclusion. The tissues were out for our heroes stoicism, love and pragmatism. He could have lived 300 years ago and still told this story. The most moving and wonderful book I have read in 2018. I wish I could start again. Someone with a heart will make a great movie out of this and an Oscar beckons for the actor who can conquer the part of Maurice.
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What a refreshing different book. No twists to predict , no bloody hand fisted action just there to shock, no big 'reveals' , no crescendo finish, just a beautifully told story. The narrative is fluent, poetic. The scenes vividly recreated. The characters jump off the page. Though the ending is somewhat predictable, it's in a good way, it seems the only fitting end, not a disappointing one. As a debut, it was assured and well written. It is a gem of a book whose characters will live in my memory for a very long time
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What a totally gorgeous read, I loved it, Maurice is a wonderful character and his stories are beautiful to read, I'm a little upset I've finished, he's going to stay with me for a while I reckon.
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Beautiful.  A poignant lament to a life less well lived than it might have been, where you're left grieving for the man who is and the boy who was.

I remained glued to this story even as I realised what was the inevitable conclusion, because the writing is so beautiful and the story so real.  

Despite our hero's obvious flaws, he is a man I soon grew to like and to empathise with in all his decisions, good or bad.  He's a man like any other, faced with hardships and with opportunities and there's no judgement required, he does enough of that for himself.

There's no growing crescendo here, no big reveals or mysteries to solve, it's simple walk through the life of a man we could all of us know.  Hardworking, taciturn, filled with love and, now, regret.

Loved it.
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This was one of those books I didn't want to end.

84-year-old Maurice Hannigan takes a seat at a hotel bar, he is grumpy at the delay being served and is feeling introspective. 

He takes a drink and as the evening progresses he will toast 5 people who made an impact on his life. Anne Griffin has written this in such a beautiful way, that you feel you are sat with Maurice, listening to his tales and weeping along with him at times.

This is a quiet book, a soulful read that will make you wonder, just who would you toast, who has had that sort of impact on your life? The ending is very moving and this book will stay with me for a long time. I can see this as being a must read when it’s published in 2019 and I feel very lucky to have had a chance to read it.

I would like to thank the Author/the Publishers/NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review
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A beautiful story told with lyric simplicity
Maurice Hannigan, eighty-four years old, sits in a bar in a small Irish hotel and makes five toasts.  These toasts are to the five people he loved the most and meant the most to him in his lifetime.  As each of the five stories behind the toasts is recounted, the character and life of Maurice Hannigan are gradually revealed until we have the whole picture of a complex and difficult man who has been damaged by his past, but who ultimately finds love and resolution.  He has had a lifetime of suffering, hardship, pain and anger, but this has been mixed with joys, happiness, success and love. Although there is a little action, this book is also a page-turner as each of the five characters links into the next.
This is a very Irish story, it couldn’t really come from anywhere else especially with some of the dialogue.  The writing is assured, poetic and fluent. Maurice, the main character, is beautifully drawn - warts and all - and although he dominates the story, the details of the other characters are also brought to life in great detail.  When all the strands of the story have been brought together, the end when it comes is not entirely unexpected, but very movingly written.
I loved this gentle and beautiful book and found it hard to believe it is a debut novel.   I cannot recommend it too highly. 
 Jane
Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review
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A lovely, poignant book which is beautifully written. In a bar, an elderly man raises a toast to five people in his life. Through these toasts we learn a lot about these people and about Maurice (the old man) himself. It is almost poetic at times but at others it can be a little clunky. This is mainly when the narration becomes a little expositional, and Maurice over explains things. Otherwise a lovely book. Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the ARC.
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What a beautiful book.  I normally go for stories with a beginning and an ending with a clear plot in the middle – often of the suspense/mystery type so I didn’t expect to take to this book especially, but oh what an extraordinary surprise … I could not put this down.  Nor could I stop the tears from flowing – whether from sadness, the upflited-ness or the simply beauty of the tale and how it is told.

Maurice Hannigan, a man of the land all his life and now 84 years of age, sits in a hotel bar, alone now after his wife and children have died or moved far away, and raises a glass to five people he has known and loved through his long life.  We learn about these people through each toast as he remembers them and how they touched his life and he theirs – but we learn even more about Maurice himself.  He’s no hero – he has loved and lost along the way and his own behaviour hasn’t always made him a hero, but a real human being he is, and therein lies his attraction to us as we get to know him and empathise with him.  You feel you’re in the bar with him, listening to his soft Irish brogue and reliving those moments with him and identifying with him in our own experience.  It reminded me too, of the important wisdom that life, in the end, is not so much about what we do or achieve, but the way in which we touch the lives of others and they touch us, and that – when ‘all is said and done’ dare I say, is the legacy we leave behind and perhaps the only one worth leaving.  This isn’t me preaching … this is me being reminded!

This was incredibly skilful writing from someone whom I am sure will become more familiar to us over the years.  A poignant, moving, beautiful book that speaks to us of life just how it is – for better or for worse.  Be warned … it may strip you raw, but for me, rather that any day than leave me unmoved.
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Maurice is an 84 year old Irish man who spends the evening at a hotel bar toasting five people who have been important to him at various stages of his life. 

Maurice is one of those characters you miss when a book ends. I felt I knew him as he told his story and could have read on and on for hours.

This is a beautiful and very poignant book that I read in one sitting. I sat and cried when I finished. It’s a story that will stay with me.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the ARC in return for an honest and unbiased opinion.
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84 year old Maurice spends an evening raising a toast to five important people he has encountered during his life.  This novel was a poignant tale of a man looking back on his life and reflecting on the decisions he has made and the things he has been unable to talk about until now. I enjoyed the way that mysteries were revealed through the book, and felt that I got to know Maurice well and the life he had led. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for my pre-publication copy of this novel.
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You will smile and cry when reading When All Is Said. You can't help but love Maurice Hannigan the 84 year old Irish man who is telling his life story one evening through the five toasts he raises sitting in the bar of an Irish hotel. 

The book is written in the form of a letter to his only son who lives in America telling him things he has never been able to say in person. Maurice's wife, Sadie, died two years before and he finds life difficult as a widower. A cantankerous farmer and solitary soul, he has risen from a poverty stricken childhood to become a prosperous man. Through his five toasts Maurice reveals the secrets he has kept and the sorrows he has suffered without being maudlin or self pitying.

Two minor things jarred for me: firstly no elderly man would use the awful American term 'from the get-go' (twice in Chapter Three: 'We'd been trying of course, from the get-go'; 'From the get-go Sadie was convinced of it' which reveals a young editor perhaps not noticing?)  The second  is that in order to tell the reader, Maurice 'tells' things to his son that he would have already been aware of. That's tricky and most readers wouldn't notice or care. 

Ann Griffin is a wonderful Irish writer to add to my list of contemporary fiction authors. Her characterisation and sense of place are second to none and I highly recommend When All is Said for its beautiful writing. A perfect read for fans of Elizabeth Is Missing, The Thing About December and Bitter. Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton/Sceptre for the opportunity to read and review it.
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Maurice is making toast to the people who have been most significant in his life, reflecting on the good and bad things from his past, he tells his life story, detailing his regrets, and particularly the love story between him and his wife, who has been dead two years and who he is still missing terribly.  There are some uplifting parts of this story but it is obvious he doesn't want to carry on getting older and lonelier and missing his wife more each day. He clears up a few mysteries as he goes along, and right up util the last line there is doubt whether he really will end his life.  Strong characterisation kept the story interesting and believable, I found it an engrossing read and would definitely recommend it.
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