Cover Image: So Late in the Day

So Late in the Day

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Member Reviews

There was a time that I would never consider myself a lover of short stories... until Claire Keegan, that is. She is the master of a short story that packs a punch, makes you think, and shows you that an incredibly well-written short story can be so much more than a novel.

So Late in the Day finds Keegan revising and expanding three stories (that I had previously never read) so I have no comparisons to make. These stories are brilliant... and I have not stopped thinking about them. These stories would be wonderful for a book group to read and discuss... there is just so much to consider in Keegan's writing! I will not give anything away about the stories, but I will say that there is something for everyone in each story.

I highly recommend!

I would like to thank Netgalley, Grove Atlantic, and Grove Press for the electronic copy of this book!

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For me, the first short story clinched it and is the winner. Honest, raw and real. I could picture the scene rolling out in front of me as I read "So Late in the Day".
The second short story drew a blank for me while "Antarctica" was ... predictable, nevertheless communicating the complexities of relationships. Similar to "Small Things like These", this collection too is sure to evoke strong feelings in the reader.

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SO LATE IN THE DAY — Claire Keegan ⁣

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC! I was so delighted to get my hands on this short story collection that releases on 14th November. ⁣

The thread tying the three otherwise disparate stories together is misogyny (maybe that’s a metaphor in itself). In So Late in the Day we follow Cathal, a man whose failure to address his own shortcomings in the breakdown of a relationship leads him to believe the problem is women at large. In A Long And Painful Death, a woman writer on retreat on Achill Island meets a man who clearly doesn’t believe she deserves the experience. And in the aptly named Antarctica, an unnamed woman’s attempts at a weekend of infidelity go chillingly awry. ⁣

Anyone who has read Foster or Small Things Like These will recognise Keegan’s skill in evoking so much feeling through her descriptions of the mundane and the everyday. Every single word is working hard here, these stories do so much in just 128 pages. She is such an immensely talented writer, we are lucky to have her.

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I'll be honest, I saw Claire Keegan listed on NetGalley, and I hit "request", no further questions asked. I've read and loved Foster, Small Things Like These, and The Farmer's Daughter, so the three previously published but revised and expanded short stories collected in So Late in the Day were brand new to me. The theme of relationships between men & women emerged quickly, with an arc stretching from disappointing, misaligned expectations, to the threat of danger. The tension heightens with each story, and without revealing any spoilers for new readers, the ending is really powerful -- I can't wait for others to read this collection so I can discuss it. For more recent Keegan fans like me who've primarily read her most popular novellas, these stories have a contemporary setting, rather than being set in the recent past.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this collection ahead of publication. The US release date is Nov 14, 2023.

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So Late In The Day is a collection of three short stories by award-winning Irish author, Claire Keegan.
In the title story: As he finishes work and makes his way back home from Dublin on the Arklow bus, Cathal reflects on his relationship with his French-born fiancée, Sabine. It wasn’t quite what he’d expected, and today was a radical departure from the day they had planned.
From Sabine’s perspective, this might have been titled “Just in Time”. Keegan’s powerful little tale demonstrates how easily toxic masculinity can be inherited. Short but compelling.

In The Long and Painful Death, a writer’s first day at a two-week writing retreat on Achill Island is marred by a call from an insistent German wanting to be shown the cottage, Boll House. She delays his visit but the intrusion puts her off her planned writing day. When she meets him, she realises that this angry, dissatisfied man, a retired professor of literature, is apparently incensed at the lack of appreciation and respect shown by applicants granted use of Nobel Literature Prize winner, Heinrich Boll’s working residence for writers.
A tension-filled little tale with a perfect ending.

In Antarctica: “Every time the happily married woman went away, she wondered how it would feel to sleep with another man. That weekend she was determined to find out.” After she completes her Christmas shopping in the city, she picks up a man in a bar. She’s had quite a bit to drink and he seems kind. She’s not disappointed; she gets what she came for. And more.
This one has a sting in the tail.

As always, Keegan spare, succinct prose easily conveys the mood, threat and tension of her stories. Her descriptive prose is wonderful: “He had looked at her then and again saw something ugly about himself reflected back at him, in her gaze” and “Just outside the panes, a hedge of fuchsia was trembling brilliantly in the very early morning” and “The sky was cloudy but promising, streaked with patches of blue. Down at the ocean, a ribbon of water rose into a glassy wave and fell to pieces on the strand” are examples. Three small but excellent doses of Claire Keegan.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Grove Atlantic.

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A good writer, but these stories were far too vulgar for me. I would recommend her novellas over this collection of short stories.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a chance to read this title before its publication date.

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"‘Is there anything you would not give me?’ she had once asked. ‘Nothing,’ he had said, instantly. ‘There is nothing.’ For some reason, she had kept looking at him, and had waited. ‘Well,’ he had said, clearing his throat. ‘Maybe the land. I wouldn’t like to give you the land.’"

A collection of three dark stories. In one word, I would call the trio 'menacing', every story exploring some form of misogyny, with the last story moving from menace into implied terror. It's also the story I found the least convincing, buuuut I will confess that's probably me just wanting Keegan to write a kind of story I know (and love) from her, which is of course unfair.

"‘What trouble you have made,’ the man said, looking at the cake. ‘It’s nothing,’ she said, and wondered, at that moment, how he would respond if she gave him none."

The writing is exemplary as always, and has that moreish quality good contemporary writing can have - I couldn't stop reading.

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What an insightful short story collection! Reading about men and women and their differences intrigues me and this collection did just that. Keegan is such a fabulous writer and her pieces are a bit complex but they leave you feeling like you've learned something. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. Five stars.

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Claire Keegan again brings a story that feels utterly tender and kind. The characters feel like real humans who are at times unaware of their own shortcomings and the story is about how one deals with these shortcomings when they come up in the context of relationships in our lives. The voice of the main character had a calm yet enticing quality to it. I felt my life slow down as I read the book but I wasn't bored in the least. I had felt this way with other Clair Keegan books and felt it again this time. Highly recommend this book.

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I thought I had read everything that Claire Keegan has written, so I was overjoyed when I saw this little volume was available on NetGalley. So Late in the Day is a collection of three short stories. I felt the same wonder and appreciation I've previously enjoyed after reading something written by Keegan when I read the title story, "So Late in the Day". But after finishing the second and third stories, it dawned on me that I had read them before. That was when I finally read the book description, "Claire Keegan now gifts us three exquisite stories, newly revised and expanded, together forming a brilliant examination of gender dynamics and an arc from Keegan’s earliest to her most recent work." Reading Claire Keegan's stories once is a treat, and reading them more than once is even better. Intricate yet sparse, full of emotion, pleasure, pain, and fully formed characters in the space of a short story- Claire Keegan's writing has it all.

Thank you to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book. This book will be published on November 14, 2023.

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Simply perfect, as to be expected from Claire Keegan. Keegan has a way of dropping you right into the middle of a piece of everyday life and tearing out your heart. Perfectly drawn characters, she always leaves you wanting more of the story.

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Clare Keegan's work is amazing, so I was thrilled to find and read this collection of short stories. Authentic and unflinching, the stories reflect the difficulties of relationships despite the ways we may romanticize them. Highly recommended. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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These three stories by Claire Keegan include three of her previously published short stories, but are now included in this collection of stories which aren’t technically connected, but are linked by themes of ’love, lust, betrayal, misogyny, and the ever-intriguing interchanges between women and men.’ I was so glad that this came out as a collection since I love the way that she writes, but had yet to read these any of these three stories.

Beginning with ’So Late in the Day’, followed by ’The Long and Painful Death’ this collection ends with ’Antarctica’

’So Late in the Day’ shares the story of Cathal, a man who is looking back over the years, remembering a woman that, perhaps, he might have had a life with if he had been another, better, man.

The second story ’The Long and Painful Death’ revolves around a woman, a writer who is currently at a writing residency, trying to work on her writing during these two weeks when a man who she doesn’t know appears at her door, clearly upset that she has been offered this residency instead of himself. He is dismissive of her as a writer, and a woman.

’Antarctica’ is the third and final story, a story which reminded me of a song my mother used to play far too often Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife’ by Glen Campbell - at least as it begins. A woman who is content in her marriage, but wants a taste of something less tame, just a break from their routine, and so she goes to the city to spend the weekend.


Pub Date: 14 Nov 2023

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Grove Atlantic, Grove Press

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I basically worship the ground Claire Keegan walks on, because everything I have read from her has sucked me in wholly and this is no exception! While these stories are much less hopeful than her previous ones, they are painfully real and executed very well. You feel for the women in these stories, and question the men in them.

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Something about this collection didn’t click with me. The writing was good, but everything seemed too clinical, like thought experiments rather than depictions of real people going through real things. I loved the author’s other books, so maybe my hopes had just been set too high for this.

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I am again blown away by Claire Keegan's writing and her incredible ability to transport you to different people's lives in so few words. I loved each of the stories in this collection - they are a lot darker and less wholesome than 'Foster' and 'Small things like these', and are about gender, misogyny, and desire.

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This stunning short story trilogy has been fully updated in a revised edition (publication date November 2023). The writing is textbook Claire Keegan: so astute and intuitive that she captures the essence of both colourful and mundane characters embroiled in unique moral-maze situations.

I am in total awe of this writer; God, how I love her work. Whenever I finish a story, I cannot wait to begin another.
A brief synopsis of each is below. I could have written more but held off for fear of spoiling these captivating narratives.

SO LATE IN THE DAY
Realisation dawns … too late. This first story literally had me in tears.
It's a cautionary tale of love's labours lost and how the legacy of being raised in a misogynistic household can have untold consequences in later life. I have seldom read such a delicious and infuriating short story. I was so caught up in it that I wanted to shake some sense into the protagonist.

THE LONG AND PAINFUL DEATH
Such dreamy poetic prose. Such beautifully descriptive writing. Yet the beauty is overshadowed by a tangible sense of foreboding. This tale has a Victorian gothic feel and a generous dose of righteous retribution.

ANTARCTICA
Be careful what you wish for. This narrative is so alluring, so addictive, that we fall prey to allowing ourselves to be led by our protagonist's hand as she embarks on a flight of immoral fancy.

My sincere thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for granting this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. More from CK, please!

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I’m always surprised books like these get published. PLEASANTLY surprised that is. The world seems to largely want bombastic bestsellers, books loud in action or emotion, and Keegan’s work is so quiet. Just these lovely brief slices of life rendered in the language that would make poets swoon (and/or weep with inadequacy).
This is my third read by the author, and I enjoyed it just as much as the other two books. Keegan’s stories are poignant, melancholy, striking with their linguistic precision and emotional depth.
Love the cover of this one too.
A lovely quiet read for a harsh and loud world. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.

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So Late In The Day is a series of three short stories with the link of gender and relationships. It's a short read but Claire Keegan writes so beautifully, you'll want to take your time over it. A brilliant read.

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