Cover Image: Listening Still

Listening Still

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Member Reviews

I’m sure I’m not the only one who reads this and thinks how wonderful it would be if someone could actually hear the final thoughts of the recently deceased.  Jeanie is such a sweet character who has come to a crossroads in her life. Family secrets, past loves and a supernatural gift make this an enjoyable and entertaining read!
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Sometimes a gift can be a curse as well. Well written and a clever plot.  
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Looking for a lovely reading experience coupled with a wonderfully complementary movie to match it? Listening Still by Anne Griffin coupled with the Academy Award winning movie Coda should do the trick! Listening Still also cements the knowledge that I will read anything Griffin publishes.
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Listening Still is a moving story about a woman, Jeanie, who finds herself living a life she's not sure she chose. 

Jeanie has a gift, she is able to hear and talk to the dead making her an asset in the family's undertaker business. Tracing her path to the now through flashbacks from her childhood and young adulthood, Jeanie's life at times appears to be driven more by the needs of others than herself. She remains close with the few friends she had growing up, ostracized for her family's profession and her own gift, watching them go away to college as she remains to help her family. A woman comfortable with the status quo, Jeanie eventually realizes her complacency serves no one and it's time to evaluate her path. A sensitive and emotional story about knowing when it's time to evaluate one's life with a sharper lens.
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This book had a great premise—-hearing the last words of the dead! But it was oddly plodding. I felt like I was reading in real time. Loved the setting and the characters were fine but it wasn’t as good as the idea and cover had me expecting it to be.
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I have mixed emotions about this book where Jeanie Masterson can communicate with the dead at her family's funeral home in a small Irish town. I had a difficult time relating to the characters and at times I loved the story and at other times I couldn't wait for it to end and then the abrupt ending left me wanting more. I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving my review.
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While reading LISTENING STILL I started thinking how different parts of the family’s story can be compared to a few television shows and movies I have enjoyed over the years. The family’s undertaking business, reminds me of the show SIX FEET UNDER, and the sense of duty to work together.  The ability to talk to the deceased at first made me think of THE SIXTH SENSE, but then as the story progressed I realized it is much more akin to the television series, PUSHING DAISIES. Jeannie does not have the ability to actually see dead people, except in their caskets, but the ability to talk with them. In the show PUSHING DAISIES***, Ned, the main character, can touch a dead person and bring them back to life to help solve their own murder.  When he touches them again, they die. I connected these two characters by their ability to talk to the dead. Jeannie has the ability to speak to the dead, if they choose to speak, in order to share finally words or wishes to their loved ones. The short period of time Jeannie can speak to the deceased can provide closure, but also confusion. 

When Jeannie’s parents share the news they are planning to retire, Jeannie’s world starts to crumble. She did not intend to take over the family business, but because of her ability to communicate with the dead, she felt the obligation to stay. Jeannie struggles with past decisions, love, and loyalty throughout.

***By making the comparison of LISTENING STILL to PUSHING DAISIES, I am by no means suggesting this book is a comedy. It is merely a connection I made with the characters as I was reading,
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This book was a refreshing piece of women’s literary fiction! 

I would recommend this book for people who enjoy premises that are slightly magical, but the overall story is more of a contemporary like in the magical realism or fabulism genres. The main character’s ability to speak to the dead allows for a lot of interesting reflections on what the purpose of being alive is, and different reasons why the dead hang on to their lives after death (or don’t). The main character herself is in somewhat of a midlife crisis over her goals for the future (exacerbated by her husband’s own more clear goals for the future), and this ties nicely into the themes on life purpose.

After finishing this book, I would like to read a review on the portrayal of autism in the character Mikey, one of the major side-characters of the book; however, the representation was not in of itself a plot point.

Overall, my absolute favorite part of this book was the ending, and I found it incredibly thought-provoking! Although I personally could not relate to life stage that the main character was in, I could see myself returning to this book in the future. I also really enjoyed the audiobook read by Nicola Coughlan (yes! From Bridgerton and Derry Girls) , whose accent made the character come to life!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for sending me this book both digitally and as an audiobook!
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Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the chance to read Listening still by Anne Griffin. Jeanie Masterson has a gift: she can hear the last words of the dead. These words made me want to read this book. I found the story to be beautiful and sad, even though it was slow paced at times, and maybe it was supposed to be that way. Jeanie gave up so much of her young life to stay home and work with her father who had the same gift she did, a gift passed down from generation to generation to give the dead once last chance to speak, right wrongs, send messages of unspoken love or dying regrets; but was Jeanie truly happy? She had a chance at true love, and a life in London with her childhood sweetheart, but in the end stayed home and married her friend who became part of the family business.  Years later, everything seems to fall apart.. Jeanie listens to dead, but can she listen to her own heart?  While the book seemed to be slow at times, the story kept me reading, and I often stopped and pictured myself back in Ireland when I was there a few years ago. I found the last part of the book so sad, but riveting. While this may not be for everyone, I totally recommend it.
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This was a good book with a paranormal side since the main character speaks with the dead.  There are some relatable life themes, but the story moved slow at times.  However, the message and tone of the book was nice. Overall, I liked this one fine. 3 star rating.
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i loved when all is said, so i jumped at the chance to read this one. unfortunately, it didn't hit me quite the same way. perhaps it's one of those expectations were too high disappointments.
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People from miles around prefer Masterson’s Funeral Home in Kilcross because of the family’s unique talent – Jeanie, and her father, can hear the final words of the dead, and are able to offer comfort to the living by relaying the deceased’s final thoughts. Her Aunt Harry and husband Niall are master embalmers, and the deceased always look perfect. Once Jeanie’s father decided to retire and leave the business to Jeanie and Niall, things started to go sideways in their marriage. Jeanie felt an obligation to the dead, feeling that her ability was both helpful and comforting, while Niall wanted a more conventional life by the sea, with children and a wire-haired dachshund running around. As the family struggles with the many impending changes, Jeanie is unsure of where she belongs.

I could understand Jeanie feeling torn between the responsibilities of work and marriage, and of the expectations of both. Is she a good wife if she steps away from the business? Is she a good employee if she focuses on the funeral home? I eagerly followed Jeanie’s journey as she discovers what is right for her, as the truth is revealed over time. This is an interesting story with a fascinating premise, and I enjoyed reading it.
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Listening Still, by Anne Griffin, focuses on a protagonist with an appropriate occupation and an intriguing ability.  She is undertaker who can hear the dead speak.  While this aspect of the story is a bit unsettling and odd, it is never creepy.  It is background, however, for the main story which is a coming-of-age tale with all the usual components of discovery.  What do you want to do?  Where do you want to do it?  Who do you want to be with?  Set in Ireland, this is a good story which kept my attention.  It was somewhat marred by the main character whose self-involvement and quiet whining became annoying.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read a digital ARC.
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When All is Said by Anne Griffin is one of my all time favorite books, and it was wonderful to read more by her. Hearing the last words of the dead is such a fascinating premise! There is a lot of beauty in this book and I wouldn't describe it as fantasy even though the gifts of the main character are unrealistic. I will read everything she continues to write.
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This has a very interesting idea and all with Jeanie having the ability to hear the recently dead. She gets this gift from her Dad, which has helped them as family undertakers to succeed in their small little Irish town. When her parents unexpectedly decide and tell her that they're going to retire from the undertaker business, she has to make some decisions. This is about what we give up and what we gain when we choose to follow our hearts.
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for letting me read and review this thoughtful read. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I’m going to start off by saying that this book will definitely be making my list of favorite books of 2022! As a reader, I’m always looking for books that have a certain something special and different from what I have read in the past, and I can happily say that Listening Still did just that.

I was immediately intrigued by the story of a woman who could hear and talk with the recently deceased. For the Mastersons, death was not eerie or creepy. They were the local undertakers in their community, providing a needed service to bid a final farewell to people’s loved ones.

Jeanie Masterson had grown up around the dead, for her, it was a normal part of life. While she enjoyed her time with the dead, she also felt it was a great burden to hear their final thoughts. Some wanted to come clean about something, some wanted her to relay messages of love to their families, others didn’t always have the nicest things to express. While Jeanie felt that it was her duty to offer this service, she often wondered what her life would’ve been like if she had been brave and ventured off to London after graduation. How would her life have turned out if she had left the family business and followed her high school sweetheart instead of staying and marrying someone who worked alongside of her. Her responsibility to help run the family business, and her responsibility to the deceased were always of utmost priority, but to what detriment to her own personal life?

I thoroughly enjoyed Jeanie’s story. Communicating with the dead and discovering their final wishes and thoughts was intriguing, but what really drew me into this novel was that it was so much more than just that. As a reader who enjoys a good helping of angst in her books, this novel gave me just what I wanted. Jeanie was faced with feelings of doubt in her life: about her profession, and about her marriage. She had a few regrets, wondered what could have been, and felt a world of personal obligation.

Listening Still was a beautifully written book about finding your own happiness, following the path that’s best for you, about living your best life and being true to yourself. As soon as I started reading it, I knew that it was going to be special. I felt a multitude of emotions while reading it. I was completely captivated by Jeanie’s story and was sad when I reached the final page and had to say goodbye.

*5 Stars
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Listening Still shifts between the past and present as we learn about Jeanie's youth, her friends, first love and how she came to be married to Niall.  The reader also learns that Jeanie is blessed or cursed, depending on how you view it, with the ability to talk to the dead.  

She, and her parents, operate the local funeral home and she has found the dead have a lot to say before going in the ground.  Often times, this puts her in precarious situations where death bed confessions are revealed and she was expected to convey it to their loved ones.  After her parents announce their retirement, Jeanie literally has a mental meltdown.  All things in her life are in question, including her marriage.  

Jeanie's character was challenging to like as she was emotionally absent from the sensations of life and love.  The story was interesting and charming, but in the end is was just an ok read. 

Thank you St. Martins Press for the advance reader copy.
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Having a little talk with the dead

Masterson  Funeral Directors in Kilcross, a midlands town in Ireland, really is full-service. Not only will they embalming your loved ones and prepare them for burial but Jeanie Masterson and her father can both speak to the dead (at least some of them) for a brief time after they've died and pass on messages to family and friends.

But now Jeanie's father and mother have told her and her husband they're retiring and Jeanie is having a midlife crisis at 32 years old, wondering if she's really doing what she wants to be doing with her life and whether she made the right life decisions years ago.

I enjoyed Jeanie's story, even filled with angst and secrets as it was. I liked the supernatural aspect of it and I liked Jeanie's confused character. I recommend it highly.

I received this book from St. Martin's Press through Net Galley in the hopes that I would read it and leave an unbiased review.
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Listening Still by Anne Griffin is a story of a young woman who has inherited the family gift…or is it a curse? Jeannie Masterson can hear the recently dead and give a voice to their final wishes and revelations. Inherited from her father, their gift has helped the family funeral business thrive in their small Irish town of Kilcross. Jeannie made the decision to stay and help with the family business instead of following her teenage sweetheart to London. When her parents announce their plans to retire, Jeannie is jolted awake to the life she has been living. She finds herself at a crossroads once again. Does she stay in Kilcross with her comfortable marriage and the family business or does she take this chance to finally break free from a calling she loves and hates? 
Listening Still is billed as “a heartachingly honest look at what we give up and what we gain when we choose to follow our heart.” I was intrigued by the premise. It’s not every day that you hear about a book with the main character having the ability to talk to the dead. Unfortunately, Listening Still did not live up to its premise. From the very beginning, Jeannie is unlikeable. She whines like a child when she learns about her parents' retirement. Jeannie is very wishy-washy as she never really understands a question, leaving the other person with the assumed answer and gets upset when they push the issue. It seems even the most mundane decisions trip her up and she acts as if every decision is a life-altering decision. I found Listening Still hard to read. 

Listening Still is available in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook.
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The premise of this book sounded fascinating, those that could talk to the dead even only for a short time before they moved on to the other world or wherever someone goes when they die. But this book is a bit more than that, it is how it impacts those that can hear the dead and their family. It is also about finding love and setting it free and then losing it when you least expect it to happen.

Jeanie has had the ability to hear the dead since she was a young girl and this is a blessing and a curse because she finds herself tied to her small town in Ireland despite wanting to see the world. Is it duty that holds her back or her own fears? Her mother encourages her to go off to the University and find a passion, and the love of her life moves to London and wants her to join him. Essentially, it is fear of the unknown that holds her back and turns her life in a direction that maybe isn't the best choice for her. She does marry a childhood friend, but is it the same love she feels for the one she lost to London?

I was hoping to hear more stories from the dead, but the ones that are shared are intriguing and it explains so much when other facts are revealed down the road regarding her father and her aunt.

The road is bumpy for all of the characters as they endure life from childhood forward. Jeanie has to deal with bullying from classmates, a business thrust upon her without consulting her, and a rocky relationship with her husband, Niall. Jeanie's brother, Mikey, is on the spectrum and has his quirks about him and he reminds me of some others that I know that are focused on a few things in life and are steadfast in their dislikes. I don't feel like all of the characters were fully developed and felt somewhat shallow.

This book has some witty moments and others that you might relate to in your own life. I think the biggest turning point for Jeanie was with an event regarding the childhood sweetheart. This was the pivotal point for her and she did step up and make some big decisions.

The ending isn't quite wrapped up but you can surmise what happens and it really isn't a huge surprise as you read about the struggles of some of the characters.

Overall, we give this 3 1/2 paws.
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