Cover Image: So Late in the Day

So Late in the Day

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This collection of three previously published short stories focuses on the relationships between men and women and what it is to be human: to love, lose, regret and long for something other than what we have. Claire Keegan always delivers a perfectly formed short story, which perfectly captures the characters, their personalities, attitudes and flaws, and needs no further elaboration or explanation.

In the titular story ‘So Late in the Day’, Cathal is nursing his regrets and reflecting on how he lost Sabine, the woman he planned to spend his life with. His reflections on his childhood allow us to see how small events have led to his misogyny and disregard for women.

’The Long and Painful Death’ tells of a female writer who has been awarded a writing residency in the house of Heinrich Böll. She is annoyed when a German writer turns up requesting a tour of the house, but graciously arranges a time to let him visit later that day, even baking a cake to have with their tea. He turns out to be an unhappy man, mean and small-minded, but also a catalyst for the writer to reflect on her life and what she wants from it.

The final story 'Antarctica’ features a (mostly) happily married woman with children, who occasionally likes to step outside her normal life for a little excitement. However, in this tale she gets more than she bargained for.

These three stories in this short compilation form a perfect triptych with similar themes, as the interactions between imperfectly real men and women play out, with plenty of food for thought

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EXCERPT: She looked at the date on the paper, turned out the lights and lay back in the light of the fire. There she took deep breaths and slowly let many things pass through her mind. She thought of the men she had known and how they had proposed marriage and how she had said yes to all of them but hadn't married one. She felt great fortune, now, in not having married any of these men and a little wonder at ever having said she would.

ABOUT 'SO LATE IN THE DAY': A triptych of stories about love, lust, betrayal, misogyny, and the ever-intriguing interchanges between women and men.

In “So Late in the Day,” Cathal faces a long weekend as his mind agitates over a woman with whom he could have spent his life, had he behaved differently.

In “The Long and Painful Death,” a writer’s arrival at the seaside home of Heinrich Böll for a residency is disrupted by an academic who imposes his presence and opinions.

And in “Antarctica,” a married woman travels out of town to see what it’s like to sleep with another man and ends up in the grip of a possessive stranger.

Each story probes the dynamics that corrupt what could be between women and a lack of generosity, the weight of expectation, the looming threat of violence.

MY TOUGHTS: Claire Keegan portrays the complexities of human relationships with apparent ease. She notes the little moments that shape our memories and our desires. There are not many authors who can portray people so vividly in so few words and pages, but Claire Keegan does it beautifully. Her writing is thought provoking, and I found myself thinking about each story long after I had finished it.

Easily read in an hour, Keegan kept me entranced and satisfied.


#SoLateintheDay #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Claire Keegan didn’t read much as a child. In her home in southeast Ireland, where her family ran a sheep, pig and cattle farm, there were just a couple of books around the house — an illustrated edition of the Bible, and a cookbook, she recalls.

“I’m not sure that growing up without books was a bad thing, because I had to use my imagination,” she said. “Otherwise I might have just stuck my head in a book.”

As it turned out, Keegan made a career out of her imagination.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic, Grove Press for providing a digital ARC of So Late in the Day: Stories of Men and Women by Claire Keegan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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Thank you to Net Galley, the author, and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

The title story came to slay. Cathal has recently been left by his fiancée, Sabine. We're taken through the progression of their relationship through his eyes, gleaning the ways in which his internalized misogyny soured things between them.

"He had looked at her then and again saw something ugly about himself reflected back at him, in her gaze."

Honestly? Good for her.

An unnamed woman has arrived at Böll House for a two-week writer's retreat. However, the freedom to write and take in the sights around her and, ultimately, decide how she'd like to spend her time is infringed upon when a German literature professor shows up, demanding to view the house. She puts off his visit, discomforted that this stranger is imposing on her schedule and tries to reframe the situation on her own terms. However, when he returns, he disparages the way she uses her time, ultimately claiming that she and other residents of the house are undeserving to occupy it.

The woman finds an outlet to channel her frustrations with this man, as well as other men she has encountered. Ultimately, it comes back to an idea mentioned in the previous story:

"You know what is at the heart of misogyny? When it comes down to it? It's simply about not giving."

All three of these stories are, as the title would indicate, focused on gender roles and power dynamics. This was no exception, though I will say it felt markedly differently from the previous two. A married woman goes out of town, seeking an unprecedented "thrill" to sate her curiosity. When she strikes up what is meant to be a brief, close-ended fling with a man from a bar, she soon discovers the vulnerability in doing so. This took a very dark turn, but fully achieved its purpose.

Overall: Claire Keegan is one of my new favorite authors. This collection, along with everything else I've read by her, is excellent.

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Although quite different than her other US published books, this one was well written as usual and interesting throughout.

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Claire Keegan is an excellent writer - her style is economical but emotionally powerful. This book collects 3 of her short stories having to do with fraught relations between men and women. The stories feature damaged men of varying degrees of misogyny, with the women trying to live their lives with and around them. The first two are very good - memorable and insightful. The last one is less successful: it seems to be more of a psychological nightmare than a slice of normal life.

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claire keegan is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. her prose is simple and succint yet she has a talent of speaking directly to readers' hearts. although i do like small things like these better, these stories were so so beautifully written. i loved antarctica the most, although all of them were wonderful.

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***I thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this book in return for an honest review***

Hollowing. Reflective. Succinct.
These words come to me whenever I think of Claire Keegan now, for even though she is quite famed for <i>Small Things Like These</i> specifically, <i>So Late in the Day</i> is my first of her work. And god, was it something.

Her writing style is crisp; think autumn leaves cracking under your feet—there’s nothing to add there, nothing to deduct. Just complete in its own briefness, reminiscent of old memories you never had, a feeling you never thought of.

Literary fiction is a long shot for me and Claire Keegan hit it just at the spot. Her stories revolve around men and women, and the lives that go past in a blur, slow yet timeless.

I felt a certain emptiness unlike the one I usually have—maybe a reflection of my own but mirrored?
Quite right.

A classic author in the making (if not already)
★ ★ ★ ★/5
If you want a read for a slow autumn or winter day, this is simply perfect.

⊹ . ⋆ ☽ ⋆ . ➶

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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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