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When All is Said by Anne Griffin

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | General Fiction

By Swirl and Thread

Five Toasts. Five People. One Lifetime.

‘I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.’

When All is Said is the beautiful debut novel from Irish writer Anne Griffin. Described as ‘heart-breaking and heart-warming’, this is the story of one man, Maurice Hannigan, as he recounts his life and loves through five toasts to five very special people. When All is Said has already received rave reviews from John Boyne, Kit de Waal and Donal Ryan, to name but a few, so you can expect to see it mentioned across many forums over the next while, having already been sold in eight territories worldwide.

When All is Said will be published on 24th January with Sceptre (Hodder & Stoughton imprint)

When All is Said recounts the life of Maurice Hannigan. Now eighty-four years of age, Maurice sits on a high stool at the bar counter of the local hotel, Rainsford House Hotel, in Co. Meath. He is there with more than the intention of putting away a few pints, Maurice has a plan. This is the night he will raise a glass to five people, five very special people, whose lives have impacted Maurice and the subsequent path in life he chose.

Through a one-sided conversation Maurice chats to his son Kevin. Kevin is in the US now married with children, making regular trips back to Ireland, especially since the passing of Sadie, Kevin’s mother and Maurice’s wife and life-partner.

Maurice takes us all back to his youth, growing up in a very loving family but where money was very tight. Maurice struggled at school but with the help and love of his adored older brother Tony, Maurice survived those difficult early years. His first toast is to Tony, now long passed. In remembering his youth, Maurice gives us all an insight into his past and how the actions of certain individuals had a huge impact on his own personal future. Maurice grew up a very ambitious and hard man, a difficult man and by his own memories, a tough man to live with. He was a wheeler dealer who took no excuses from anyone. There were occasions, during the story, that I had little sympathy for Maurice, as his ambition to outdo and to succeed came at quite a personal cost.

Maurice continues to toast his wee baby, his first born, a little girl, Molly, who survived a mere fifteen minutes, but who remained forever etched in Maurice’s memories. Molly’s passing had a huge affect on the marriage of Maurice and Sadie, as they struggled to understand how life could be so cruel to them. They shared many ups and downs, but the loss of Molly would always remain in their hearts as an all encompassing loss, an enormous cross for them to bear.

As the evening wears on, a melancholy sweeps over Maurice. At times he side steps as his mind wanders and we discover other snippets of a past life.

For his third toast, Maurice raises his glass to Noreen, his sister-in-law. Noreen had her own personal issues to deal with but her actions became a catalyst that would ripple across many waters, as a story quite complex and impactful is relayed to us.

With two more toasts to go, Maurice is feeling the effects of the drink but persists in fulfilling his objective of leaving no stone unturned as he reveals his inner most thoughts, his regrets, his losses and his loves.

The final two toasts are to his son Kevin and his darling wife Sadie. As a reader it is very easy to visualise the love Maurice has for these two important people in his life. Anne Griffin has captured this love with a tenderness and a longing that is almost tangible.

When All is Said is a very poignant read that will pull at every single heart-string. The character of Maurice is beautifully portrayed, written with a gentleness and a passion that brings him alive to the reader. It’s very easy to imagine yourself sitting on a stool at the bar next to Maurice and keeping him company on this night when his past is closing in on him.

Anne Griffin wrote this book after an encounter with a man in his eighties, sitting at a bar in a local hotel in Mayo. His words to her that day remained with her, providing the germ of an idea that translated into this nostalgic novel that will delight and move every single reader who picks up a copy.

When All is Said is reflective tale, a story of life, loss, love and regret. A story of one man, as he looks back over his past and what now remains.

This is Maurice Hannigan’s story.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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