Member Reviews

Claire Keegan composes stories with such clear, beautiful efficiency. Reading her newest trio of stories, So Late in the Day, is such.a treat for readers and a master class in how much can be conveyed in so little space. Each of these three stories looks at the interactions between men and women. These stories hum with tension and the threat of violence. This tension between characters, strangers and lovers and past lovers, teases out the uneven power dynamics. Keegan crafts stories that linger, and this trio is another example of her remarkable gifts.

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When I saw Claire Keegan had a new book available on @Netgalley, I immediately requested it without any further research. Much to my surprise, So Late in The Day: Stories of Women and Men, actually features three short stories with similar themes that have been previously published and are now being rereleased as a collection.

This collection can be read in a sitting and that is how I recommend consuming it. I enjoyed deciphering the through line between each story while also marveling at the way Keegan is able to stretch as an author in tone within each story. The last story in the collection, Antarctica, is probably the shortest but packs the biggest punch. I really look forward to reading more of her work and have definitely reconsidered my thoughts on short story collections.

Thank you NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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I've always loved Clare Keegan's writing, she is an author who manages to convey so much in so few well chosen words. These short stories were no exception, and left me thinking about them long after I'd finished the book.
My only negative comment would be that I had already read Antartica in a book of short stories of that name published in 2013. 1 star to the publisher who led me to believe they were all new short stories, but 5 to Ms keegan for her writing.
Thank you to netgalley and Grove Atlantic for an advance copy of this book

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A really easy to read short story on the difference small gestures and acts of kindness can impact a romantic relationship and whether it is worth being right or worth saving your relationship.

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I've throughly enjoyed Claire Keegan's earlier writing (Small Things Like These, Foster) so was excited to hear of an upcoming working - this time, in the plural! "So Late in the Day" is a collection of 3 short stories that traverse disparate storylines and individuals, but feel correctly placed together in their examination of the complex dynamic and relationships between women and men.

The first piece is also the longest, as "So Late in the Day" takes on the perspective of a man named Cathal as he goes through his day-to-day in Ireland. Going from his workplace to his home, his memories take him back to the time he spent with a woman named Sabine, from their first interaction to the eventual proposal, to her attempts to move in with Cathal - all the while nodding towards the ultimate failure of the relationship. These glimpses in the past paint Cathal in a harsh light, noting his stinginess when it came to minor amounts of money and his lack of appreciation for the effort and work that Sabine put in. "The Long and Painful Death" takes on the perspective of a woman who moves into sought-after a home called the Böll house due to her successful writing residency, and extends an invitation to visit when a fellow male academic pesters her multiple times. We see the boundaries the guest promptly stomps over and the misogyny women have to endure, even in the most surface-level interactions. Finally, in "Antarctica", a woman desires to shed the responsibilities of being a wife and mother for a brief weekend, and takes a trip into he city. What should be a couple days of fun and light-heartedness ends in something far more sinister at the hands of the unknown stranger she meets.

Each of these stories are thought-provoking and shine a light on the inequity and imbalance between genders - both in and out of romantic relationships. The writer in "The Long and Painful Death" is immediately disregarded as undeserving because she is a woman, despite her attempts at hospitality and allowing a stranger into her home. "Antarctica" shines a light on the underlying physical dangers women have to endure on a regular basis, and "So Late in the Day" shows the imbalance of emotional and physical labor that women are expected to put in a relationship. Each of these stories are beautifully crafted and atmospheric, and Keegan's prose is as alluring as it's always been; I'm always impressed at the depth of characters and plot she's able to create despite so few pages being needed.

Very much a recommended read for "So Late in the Day" is published in November 2023!

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Claire Keegan is a skilled writer but I just couldn’t relate to these stories especially the last one Antarctic. It reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies where the woman gets punished for having desire.

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From the mind of the popular writer Claire Keegan we are taken on a short fiction journey of gender dynamics and love. Cathal ponders about his last relationship and talks about the inner workings of an average man. A delight for anyone that enjoys short stories and in depth analysis.

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I am a big fan of Claire Keegan's short stories, and have read a couple of her other collections. So Late in the Day was also really enjoyable to read. Keegan packs so much into her very short stories, and is a master of showing vs telling. My favorite story of the 3 was Antarctica and found it very suspenseful and propulsive. I look forward to future works by this author.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an advanced copy for my honest review. This collection publishes on 11/14/23.

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I find myself wanting to get to know Keegan's characters better, but also feeling like the stories are complete as they are. She's a master of short form storytelling, and at developing characters who are flawed, and not particularly lovely or likable, but still making me care about what happens next.

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So Late in the Day consists of three different stories narrated by three various perspectives.

The first story, So Long in the Day took on topics about misogyny, loneliness, and betrayal. The main protagonist tells the story of the mundanity of life after his fiance left him, and how his misogynistic action towards his mother backfired at him. This story will give you a front row seat on how men expects women to be. A typical story on oppressive actions and thoughts towards women.

The second story, Long and Painful Death, recount the narratives of a single writer who travelled to Böll House, a writer's retreat house to work, when a man appeared in the doorstep saying that she doesn't deserve to be living in the Böll House, frolicking and such. What I liked about this story was that it gives you a sense of peace within in, imagining the house and the beach, dipping in the ocean and laying down on the bleached rocks. It's so poetic. And, of course, the central theme being that we can't easily assume something of someone we don't even know.

The third story, Antarctica, tells the story of a woman who wanted change from her routine as a mother and a wife. So, she cheated with a stranger on Christmas day. This story really got into my nerves. I really hate cheating, so when this story revealed that she cheated wasn't something I anticipated. But, I still got satisfied with the ending — she was slowly freezing to death, literally. But, other than that, the story gives an in-depth analysis on how humans can't be contented with what they have. They are so hungry with 'what if I do this' or 'I want something new to happen.' And consequences be damned, however, regret still follows afterwards.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I would recommend this to everyone who wants to read something on a sunny or rainy, or to just even pass the time. Claire's writing will keep you interested until the end.

Many thanks to Atlantic Grove and Netgalley for granting me this eARC!!

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5

"So Late in the Day" made me go into a Claire Keegan binge-fest where I read 2 of her other books in the same week! From the beginning of the short story collection until the end was an enrapturous read. Filled with 3 stories that captured my attention in different ways, this story made me fall in love with Keegan's work.

The first story follows Cathal's commute from his office to his flat. Building up tension and shifting between the past and present, we only see snippets of Cathal's mind until the very end where we find out what happened between him and his partner. The blatant misogyny shown in this story shows how generational misogyny can be, with the only reason for Cathal's mistreatment towards his relationship being that Cathal watched his father mistreat his mother. This story was very direct and to the point.

The next story, named "The Long and Painful Death" follows a female writer who is at a writing residency, but is continuously being bothered by a man whom she doesn't know. He is offended that she had been offered this residency instead of himself, disrespecting her work because she's a woman. Showing how difficult it is for women in a male-dominated profession, Keagan exemplifies how difficult it is for women to just exist.

In the last story, "Antarctica," a woman wants something more exciting outside of her marriage. Wanting to disrupt her routine, she goes to the city over the weekend and pursues a man who excites her sexually more than her husband ever did. Filled with themes of unfulfillment and the consequences women can go through when trying to date men, this story kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what the next page will bring.

Inside each of these short stories is an explosion of emotions and social commentary written with the most succinct and articulate prose that grabs you from the beginning. Even after reading "Foster" and "Small Things Like These," "So Late in the Day" is still my favorite Claire Keegan book.

Thank you, NetGalley for the Arc!

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I had read Claire Keegan's novella Foster, and was so impressed with her ability to pack so much into the short length, not to mention the way her clean and tidy prose sticks with you. But I was even more impressed by those same qualities in these shorter stories, which focus on gender dynamics. In every single one I was left wondering about the characters far beyond the time I spent reading about them. Truly a generational talent.

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So Late in the Day pulls together three Claire Keegan stories for an American audience. All three explore relationships between men and women, with a focus on companionship. As with other Keegan works I've read, her prose is both straightforward and profound. She is able to beautifully capture the lived experiences of everyday humans. The characters are relatable, even if you've never found yourself in the situations she writes about.

Of the three stories here, my favorite was "Antarctica" in which a married woman starts an affair with a stranger. I had heard of this story as a part of her collection by the same name, but was not prepared for the emotional impact of the work.

That all said, I wish this collection had more stories in it. I'm curious to know why, for example, one of her other collections was not fully re-issued in the US. However, for an audience unfamiliar with her short stories, this is a great introduction.

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This is such a fantastic collection of three stories--I truly wanted more. This is my first time reading Claire Keegan's writing but it won't be my last. I thought the conversations it was trying to have and the characters were extremely intriguing. At first, I was unsure about how I felt about the last story and whether it fit the tone of the collection, but in retrospect, I felt like it needed to be included in this collection. Stark, moving, unsettling--this was a perfect fall read and gateway into Irish literature.

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Another excellent collection from Claire Keegan, demonstrating yet again she is a tour de force with short stories that encapsulate social dynamics and personal relationships so well. Her ability to build a story both quickly and effectively is a testament to her writing.

I am intrigued by the concept of revised and expanded stories as well. In particular, I just read the original story Antarctica only a few days ago and will have to do a more thorough read to compare the two.

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Three short stories. The first one, a man and a woman decide to get married. He's a jerk; she decides not to marry him. The second one is about a writer-in-residence and a nasty German she has to deal with. The third one is about a wife who decides to step out on her husband one time...
The writing is excellent. Too bad there weren't more stories.

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A great collection of three short stories. They are a bit dark , but the writing is amazing! Each story is different, but all hold rich characters and depth inside each, with that little twist that makes you say, "oh!"

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I absolutely loved this triptych of short stories by Claire Keegan. The writing was excellent, each and every story immersed me instantly in its world. I deeply connected with the subject matter of misogyny and thought the three stories together formed and successful escalation of the topic at hand.

Thank you so much for this digital copy! I will be reading more by this author!

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So Late in the Day is a collection of short works by a master of the genre. In each of the three thought-provoking stories, Keegan manages to pack fully fleshed characters into 30-50 pages of melancholy. If you are looking for upbeat love stories, you will not find them here. These stories are about middle-age incomplete, flawed men and women who are searching for an elusive fulfillment in their lives. The characters in her stories do not generally find what they are seeking. The reader is swept up by the author’s hypnotic prose and reads with a voyeur-like fascination, the characters’ most intimate thoughts

I sense ambivalence in Keegan’s writing. She seems to both eschew and embrace a strict religious (moral) standard. On the one hand, strict religious doctrine comes up wanting when placed under a microscope, while on the other, her characters are “punished” for their lapse in moral character.

All three stories are bleak, comprised of middle-aged men and women. The men don’t like women, but rather see them as objects or conveniences to do their bidding, inside and outside of the bedroom.

The first story, So Late in the Day, is about a miserly, miserable man who counts out his emotions as he counts out his expenditures – sparingly. It is a wonder that any woman ever found him congenial enough to spend time with, let alone become engaged to. It is no wonder how the story ends. I missed the point/connection between the title and the story. Was it finding middle-aged romance (and loss)?

The Long and Painful Death describes a middle-aged writer who has rented a writer’s retreat cottage in a remote area near the sea. Why do women open the door to strange men? Even as she contemplates the wisdom of doing so, she eventually invites the intruder in – only to be humiliated by his unsolicited moral opinions of her. Neither she nor I understood what the purpose of his visit was, nor did I see the connection between the story and its title. Is the long and painful death the eternal struggle of filling a life with purpose?

Antarctica is by far one of the best stories I have ever read. It is the first story in a different collection by the author, by the same name. MC takes two days away from her husband and children, on the pretense of shopping for Christmas, when she is ultimately planning to fulfill her fantasy of having sex with a stranger. I found this story terrifying, on so many levels. The title of this story is (barely) more easily connected to the story – MC watches a documentary on Antarctica while on her two-day exploration of freedom, and the weather inside and outside of the flat is freezing. Also, Keegan connects the dots between hell and eternity.

Each of the three MCs of these stories made a mistake placing their trust in a man – although all three of the woman were secure in their stations in life, and had no need to do so. The only motivation I could see for their behavior was, human nature.

Thank you NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for an ARC of this book. I love Claire Keegan’s writing and this book is an example of some of her best!

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I find Claire Keenan’s writing to be hard hitting, possibly even brutal at times. Her stories stay with me for a long time after I have finished them. These three short stories are no exception. Whilst I loved one more than the others, they are all worthy reads.

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