Cover Image: So Late in the Day

So Late in the Day

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Member Reviews

In the fewest words possible, Claire Keegan takes up an expansive space. Simple and profound, universal but specific. Each of the three stories in the collection, So Late in the Day, are a glimpse into what appears to be a normal, not-so-spectacular life. But with the curtains pulled back, the depth of the every day becomes remarkable. An ill-
fated engagement, a tense interaction with a stranger, a tryst gone wrong -- nothing terrible spectacular, no story that hasn't been told before. However, with Keegan's keen eye, the slipped engagement is an escape from a misogynistic prison, the stranger is an opportunity for a story to be told and the tryst, well, the tryst is a dangerous mistake.

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Clare Keegan is such a powerful writer. Her stories are short but intensely affecting. This is the third collection of hers that I've read. The title story in this collection is fantastic. Her stories always keep you guessing, force you to confront the deeper issues of life, and leave you shocked and wanting more at the end. This collection is well-worth your time.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the complimentary ebook in exchange for my honest feedback.

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I fell in love with Claire Keegan’s writing after reading Small Things Like These last year. Once again, the writing stands out in So Late in the Day: Stories of Men and Women. This collection of three stories: “So Late In The Day”, “The Long and Painful Death”, and “Antarctica” are short but mighty. Immersed in the experiences of three very different characters, we first learn about Cathal and the events that led up to his return home and back to everyday life after what might seem like a devastating experience. We then learn about a writer who heads to a historic seaside home to write, when an unexpected guest changes the course of events that led her to this day. We then meet a woman who leaves her family behind to experience a night of passion with a lover who is exactly what she thought she wanted. All three stories cleverly explore gender stereotypes with each main character’s decisions or narrative leaving the reader wondering how they would feel if the gender roles were reversed. The writer in particular is questioned about her morality, her relationship status, and success being a woman approaching her 40s. “Antarctica” was particularly interesting to me as the main characters play roles typically assigned the opposite gender. It left me thinking about why the roles I might typically see played by a woman/man hits differently. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and look forward to reading more of Keegan’s books in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Keegan is an incredible writer; she packs so much into a very short space. Like Foster, these three stories (longer than a short story, not quite novellas) explore some disturbing dynamics between men and women. Each story is very different, though each made me incredibly uneasy; there seemed to be darkness lurking behind every interaction.

The first story, “So Late in the Day”, is about a man remembering how he fell in love with a woman, and what happened in their relationship. As he goes through his work day and goes home to his empty house, he thinks about her and wonders if he could have been a better man. The second story, “The Long and Painful Death”, is about a woman who has won a scholarship to live and write in Heinrich Boll’s house for two weeks. On her first day there, her 39th birthday, she’s approached by a man who insists on seeing the house. The third, “Antarctica” is about a woman who spends a weekend in the city, away from her husband and children, and decides she wants to have an affair.

In each story, a couple are strangers at first but they connect with each other in ways that are tender but also with an undercurrents of fear and anger, possessiveness and jealousy. In particular, these stories explore how men see women and what they want from them, and what women want in return.

Also like Foster, the plots of these stories are deceptively simple (in Foster, a child goes to live with an older couple for a summer). I also don’t want to tell you more, as it’s important to let these stories unfold for themselves.

She looked around and, seeing no one, took her clothes off and awkwardly stepped onto the rough, wet stones at the water’s edge. The water was much warmer than she imagined. She waded out until it deepened suddenly and she felt the slimy thrill of the seaweed against her thighs. When the water reached her ribs, she took a breath, rolled onto her back and swam far out. This, she told herself, was what she should be doing, at this moment, with her life. She looked at the horizon and found herself offering up thanks to something she did not truly believe in. Claire Keegan, So Late in the Day

I think Keegan is amazing. Her prose is vivid and descriptive but also direct. Even when the characters are simply in a house or apartment, those settings are richly described and important to the story. And the way she builds tension is incredible. In my mind I was screaming at the characters as I read the stories – I literally found myself wanting to yell at them in frustration. Each of these stories kept me questioning everyone’s motivations and I wanted to immediately re-read them to understand more. The second story is the one I most wanted to re-read. It felt the most subtle and was full of symbolism, and it ended in a way I didn’t expect.

Note, I received an advanced review copy of this book from NetGalley and publisher Grove Press. This book, made up of three previously published stories, was published November 14, 2023.

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I loved this slim volume of short stories. They are thought-provoking and introspective, yet propulsive. Each one is unique, focusing on a misogynistic young man, an older female writer, and a wife with young kids, they show modern day Ireland in different ways and evoke feelings of nostalgia, melancholy, hope, and despair. A great one-sit read.

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Claire Keegan is just such a special writer. It feels difficult to write a review for an author who is so precise and delicate in the way that she handles words and language - it's impossible to even try to live up to her deftness of touch!

Having previously read Keegan's novella 'Small Things Like These', I was really looking forward to reading 'So Late in the Day' and I was not disappointed. Just as in 'Small Things Like These' it is remarkable to see the power and depth that Keegan is able to convey in so few words. There is so much weight not only in what Keegan writes but also perhaps more notably in what she omits: the absences which she leaves open to the reader's interpretations.

My one downside to the stories in this collection is that they are so very short. Had they been expanded further to a novella length, like in 'Small Things Like These' I would likely be giving a five star review but, I did feel that they could merit further expansion. Even by Keegan's standards, these are very short stories and I personally would have liked them to be expanded slightly further. But that is very much a matter of personal preference and I can always just go back to the start and read them through again. Keegan is a very special writer and each of her stories feels like an amazing discovery. Really looking forward to recommending this one to customers.

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I've only discovered Claire Keegan this year and I am so glad that her works are being revisited recently. It provides me with the opportunity to enjoy her stories as they get republished.

So Late in the Day is a collection of three short stories. The second one, "The Long and Painful Death", is the one I most connected with. A writer arrives at a historical house for a writing retreat where an encounter with a rude academic sparks her creativity. The story is filled with beautiful descriptions of routines, speckled with memorable scenes: the seaweed brushing against her thighs, the determined hen crossing the road, the cake in the fridge.

Keegan has a way to sensibly describe interactions between men and women, what is expected of women, and men's heedlessness of the inner lives of women. She does so with very little embellishments. Very plainly and distinctly.

This collection makes for a great first introduction to Claire Keegan's writing. These three stories let readers see Keegan's ability to tell a story where seemingly there is not one to tell, while still being able to surprise the reader (I am thinking here of "Antartica").

Thank you, Claire Keegan, Grove Atlantic Press, and NetGalley for the ARC.

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Thank you to the author, Grove Press and NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This collection of short stories more than fulfills the promise that the author's novella "Small Things LIke These" showed. Beautifully written, spare and quiet descriptions of despairing lives lived - and each story packs an unexpected punch that caught me unaware. Highly recommend!

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In this slim collection of just 3 short stories, Keegan continues her streak of spare, rich prose – densely packed with imagery and texture that bring every moment to life. What I found most compelling is that each short has strong and kinetic tension - an undercurrent which feels appropriate given their exploration of different relationships between men and women. The tension is at its best in the chilling finale, Antarctica - and while the collection reads quickly, I know I’ll revisit and study these deftly crafted stories again.

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I recently read SMALL THINGS LIKE THESE by Keegan and found her writing simple, impactful, and compelling. And SO LATE IN THE DAY rings true to this as well. These stories appear simple but require close reading, and even multiple readings, to unpack the themes interwoven within.

SO LATE IN THE DAY contains three different short stories that all center around the dynamic between men and women. And they are all quite dark and/or lonely. There are no happy endings, and honestly no real endings, which make these stories feel more real, in my opinion. And, again, the simple but compelling way that Keegan tells these stories also forces those dark feelings of loneliness, dread, and disappointment in the reader, making these short stories pack quite a punch.

For instance, the third story in the collection follows a woman who wants to experience sleeping with someone other than her husband. So she goes out of town and meets with this man. While we experience this strong connection and affair from her POV, there’s still a sense of foreboding throughout the whole story, but even still, the ending will still sneak up on you and catch you by surprise.

The subtlety and poignancy of Keegan’s writing creates such an all-consuming atmosphere mentally as you read this collection. I highly recommend SO LATE IN THE DAY, especially if you’re a fan of her other work. You won’t find closure in these pieces. Instead, they provide thought-starters and these short stories won’t leave your mind for days after you put them down.

Thank you NetGalley and Grove Press for the opportunity to read this collection of short stories before its release in exchange for my honest review.

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People. Relationships. Just when you thought you had it all figured out... Don't read this if you are already depressed and feeling friendless. It is, however, an excellent read~! Claire Keegan knows all about family. She brings us the bad, but also the very good.

I received a complimentary ARC of this excellent set of short stories from Netgalley, the author Claire Keegan, and publisher Grove Atlantic-Grove Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read So Late in the Day of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.

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Everything Claire Keegan writes is gold. I loved every page of So Late in the Day. This exploration of men and women and what we do to one another didn't miss a beat, with each story equally as good as its last. Keegan can do so much in so few pages and I'm forever in awe.

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One of my goals this year has been to read more short stories though I do not always love them. This collection of there was excellent. I think they would be even better on a reread. All three stories have a relationship between a man and a woman at the center. In the title story “So Late in the Day,” A man might have saved his relationship if only he were different. In “Antarctica,” a married woman wants to have some excitement in her life by having an affair that gives her more than she bargained for.
Keegan's writing style is gripping. She gives so much information and context in these stories while keeping them short stories. If you are not a short story person, these stories are exceptional and may grip you as they did me!
Thanks to NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

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I was one among many who found Claire Keegan through her Booker-nominated "Small Things Like These", and then went back and read "Foster", both of which are excellent and made me willing to read just about anything by Keegan. This recent publication is a collection of three stories, two of which were published previously, and thematically centers upon the interactions between women and men.

Like Keegan's other work, these stories are beautifully written and, although brief, each one packs a punch and leaves the reader with a lot to dwell on and consider. Upon a first reading, the title story "So Late in the Day" was my favorite of the three, but Keegan's stories beg for multiple readings.

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4 Stars
One Liner: Beautiful!

Claire Keegan could be the only author whose vague and open-ended short stories are my favorite. I love how she writes, be it the setting, emotions, or the inherent intricacies of human nature – good, bad, and ugly. Almost every detail is significant, even when it seems inconsequential.
The writing is poetic, beautiful, and immersive. She knows how to weave magic even with unlikeable characters. The stories are layered and have much to offer to readers. It’s up to us to take what we want and how much we want.

So Late in the Day – 4 Stars
Cathal seems to be having a routine day at the office. However, we see that it is far from an everyday occurrence. As Cathal thinks about the past, Sabine enters, bringing affection, warmth, and love, all of which are missing from his present day. So what happened and why?
The entire story comes from the man’s perspective, providing insight into his upbringing, his flaws, patterns, parallels, and what they did to him. Of course, knowing the author, I knew this wouldn’t have a resolution. But it ends on the right note, confirming what the reader has already guessed. We also see what is likely to happen based on Cathal’s responses to his thoughts or the lack of them.
The story deals with themes like family, relationships, marriage, toxic cycles, love, compromise, priorities, expectations, etc. The subtle and distant tone perfectly presents the characters, leaving the rest for the reader to decide.

The Long and Painful Death – 4 Stars
An unnamed woman, a 39-year-old writer, gets to stay at a popular writing residency for two weeks. She has plans, which have to be adjusted when a German professor wants to see the residence before he leaves. This visit by him ignites a tiny spark, leading to a long and painful death (of a character) but with great satisfaction.
The story is dreamy, languid, and meanders aimlessly, just like the woman. However, none of it goes to waste. She may be a random explorer with half-written ideas for her book, but there’s more to her than hope. Deep inside is her determination, one that runs in parallel to the heroine of a book she’s reading. And when the right trigger flips the switch, she knows to make the most of it.
NGL, I could be missing something deeper (or maybe not). There is loneliness, yearning, determination, judgment, resentment, and much more.

Antarctica – 4 Stars
Bored with her routine life, a married woman and mother of two wonders how it would be to sleep with another man. That December, she decides to find out before it’s too late. Her trip to the city begins well. She even meets a man interested in her. However, she realizes that everything comes at a price, and this one may not leave her with anything.
The story begins with speculation, which soon becomes action. There’s excitement, danger, recklessness, and a sense of freedom. However, the unspoken unease lingers in the background. It becomes more powerful, but not until it is too late to act or react.
The setting suits the theme, Christmasy yet uncomfortable and threatening. The ending is more definite in this story, though it is still open and left to the reader’s interpretation.

To summarize, So Late in the Day is a collection of three short stories dealing with several themes but with a central thread of loneliness, one that you feel so late in the day, left alone with nothing but uncomfortable thoughts for company.
Thank you, NetGalley and Grove Press, for the eARC. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

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These quiet, elegant stories build slowly until you find yourself having to take a deep breath, unsure where all that sudden emotion came from. The final story is the only slight drawback, feeling a little strained or contrived.

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So Late in The Day
Author: Claire Keegan
Source: NetGalley
Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

Claire Keegan can take a few words and string them together into an intense train of thought that sends your mind skittering for coherent thought. In other words, she can write some edgy stories. So Late in The Day is three stories that aren’t similar except that they examine the relationships between men and women. The women are willing to bare it all and be naked before men to experience something profound. The men are mainly controlling, uncomfortable, and possessive. The writing, as always, is spectacular, and yet this left me feeling a bit queasy. Loneliness, for any of us, can be mood-altering. #NetGalley #ClaireKeegan #Ireland #selfishness #men #women #relationships #shortstories #novellas #relationship #dynamics #loneliness @grove_street_press #SoLateInTheDay @netgalley #Grovepress
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I received a complimentary copy of this ARC from NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Thank you to Grove Books, and the author for the opportunity to read this novel. Pub. Date: November 14, 2023.
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I loved the three stories in this brief collection. Claire Keegan captures humanity beautifully in each of her books, and her skill shines in the short story format. I particularly liked the last two stories about women and their agency.

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I became acquainted with Keegan last year when I read (and adored) Small Things Like These and Foster. I approached this short story collection with great anticipation. However, I couldn’t connect with them in the same way I connected with her two previous novellas. While well written and executed, these three short stories are dismal, dreary, and depressing in comparison. I can see that Keegan’s fans will admire her craft, but the content and mood of these stories were not to my taste. If you haven’t read Small Things or Foster, I’d start there! Keegan is a brilliant writer and I eagerly anticipate her next work.

Thanks #Netgalley @GroveAtlantic for a complimentary eARC upon my request. All opinions are my own.

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So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan is a collection of short stories which centre around misogyny and the dynamics between women and men in a patriarchal society. This collection contains three stories titled So Late in the Day, The Long and Painful Death, and Antarctica.

All of these stories were fantastic but I think my favourite was Antarctica... that ending!!! Claire Keegan’s writing is quiet and concise yet beautifully descriptive and impactful. I can’t wait to read more of her work in the future!

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