My enormous gratitude to the folk at Bookends for sending me a copy of When All Is Said by Anne Griffin in return for an honest review.
Published by Hodder imprint Sceptre on 24th January 2019, When All Is Said is available for pre-order through the links here.
When All Is Said
‘I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.’
At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual – though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.
Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.
Heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said.
My Review of When All Is Said
Maurice Hannigan is about to share a few toasts to absent family as he sits in the bar.
Yes, well. I saw the publicity for When All Is Said and thought it might be my kind of read. I hadn’t expected quite such an emotional punch so early. I certainly didn’t expect to be in tears by page 9. What a book! It’s going to be tricky to review without recourse to overused superlatives, but When All Is Said deserves them all.
Anne Griffin has such an immaculate turn of phrase that her writing is just gorgeous. The balance of her sentences, the convincing direct speech and the apposite use of a single word in contrast to other, more lengthy, prose is perfect. I felt her style was as rich as the Midleton Whiskey Maurice drinks. There’s an almost Shakespearean light relief through Svetlana and some of the direct speech that balances beautifully the intensity of the rest of the text.
In a sense, there is very little plot as Maurice talks in his head to his son whilst sitting in a bar over the course of an evening, but this simply doesn’t convey what fabulous plotting and storytelling is here. I lost sight of the author completely as I was so convinced by Maurice’s voice. He broke my heart and then shattered the pieces further because the raw honesty of his narrative was almost too much to bear. His memories are vivid and devastating, covering grief, love, regret, pride and anger. His searing loneliness leaps from the page with an impact on the reader that is actually physical.
I loved everything about When All Is Said. I loved the poetic quality of the writing. I loved the iterative appearance of the gold coin. I loved the raw emotion that resonates behind every perfectly selected word. But most of all I adored the portrayal of Maurice. I didn’t so much read a book in When All Is Said as find myself seated with a much loved friend, Maurice, and listening, mesmerised, to his life story.
When All Is Said is a poignant, emotional and utterly brilliant tour de force and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I simply feel I haven’t done it justice in my review, but all I can say is it really is utterly magnificent.
About Anne Griffin
Anne Griffin is an Irish novelist living in Ireland. Anne was awarded the John McGahern Award for Literature, recognising previous and current works. Amongst others, she has been shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award and the Sunday Business Post Short Story Award.
Anne’s debut novel When All Is Said will be published by Sceptre in the UK and Ireland in January, 2019 and by Thomas Dunne Books in the US and Canada in March, 2019. It will also be published by Rowohlt Verlag in Germany, Delcourt in France, by Harper Collins Holland in the Netherlands, by Wydawnictwo Czarna in Poland, and by Tyto Alba in Lithuania.