When All Is Said
by Griffin, Anne

An 84-year-old loner, sitting at a grand hotel bar in Ireland, toasts the five people who have meant the most to him while recalling unspoken losses and joys, a tragic secret and a fierce love. A first novel.

ANNE GRIFFIN is the winner of the John McGahern Award for Literature. Shortlisted for the Hennessey New Irish Writing Award and The Sunday Business Post Short Story Competition, Anne's work has been featured in, amongst others, The Irish Times and The Stinging Fly, and she had an eight year career at Waterstones. Anne lives in Ireland with her husband and son. When All Is Said is her debut novel.

Few things are as comforting to Maurice Hannigan as the first sip of a good stout. Looking back on a lifetime of memories, both gut-bustingly happy and tearjerkingly sad, it's often the smallest comforts that put him at ease. Maurice has watched the landscape of County Meath, Ireland, and the attitudes of its inhabitants change around him. Now nearing the end of his life, he sidles up to his favorite bar at the Rainsford House Hotel and settles in for a night of reminiscing. With each drink, he dives deep into his memory to focus on one of the five people who've made a difference in his life, good or bad. Through Maurice's toasts, Griffin paints a full portrait of his life, giving even the simplest memory weight and resonance. Fans of Anne Tyler and Sara Baume will appreciate Griffin's sense of personal history and her bright, lyrical voice. Her deeply moving debut novel highlights the power of nostalgia, the pang of regret, and the impact that very special individuals can have on our lives. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

What becomes of the brokenhearted? That question, asked—and answered equivocally—in the Motown classic, receives a more thorough treatment in Griffin's debut novel. Maurice Hannigan, Irish octogenarian and curmudgeon, plans a memorable night at a hotel bar in his native County Meath. As the night wears on, Maurice raises a narrative toast to each of five characters—family members all—to be followed by a solitary stay in the honeymoon suite. As Maurice's sentimental (yet cleareyed) trip down Memory Lane unfolds, his stories recount early difficulties at a rural school as well as later-in-life successes in the business world. Each stage of his life is illustrated with a tale about one of the five, all now deceased but for a devoted, yet distant, son. The lingering presence of Maurice's dear departed in his daily life is considerable, but it is the paradoxical absence created by the death of his wife, Sadie, that Maurice cannot adapt to and which propels his night of elegiac remembrances and his plans for thereafter. Small-town rivalries and the lasting repercussions of Maurice's childhood pocketing of a valuable gold coin recur throughout the five accounts. His soliloquies about these themes and surrounding events lend the novel a playlike structure and feel. (If Milo O'Shea were still available, the most difficult casting decision could easily be made.) Some supporting characters in Maurice's life are more vividly drawn than others, and his storytelling tends toward the meandering, but, in his defense, the tone never wavers over the course of five fine whisky-and-stout toasts, a credit to the steady thread of melancholy woven throughout. Griffin's portrait of an Irish octogenarian provides a stage for the exploration of guilt, regret, and loss, all in the course of one memorable night. Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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