I absolutely adore reading debut novels from authors as there’s no expectation yet of what it should be. Anne Griffin’s When All is Said was no exception, and given she’s an Irish author (and the book is set in Ireland), I was ready to love it from page one…
Five toasts. Five people. One lifetime.
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.
Blurb from Book Depository.
To be honest, this book didn’t start how I thought it would. The prose was a bit unexpected as we are in Maurice’s head most of the time. However, I got used to it really quickly and once I was in the groove I was in love.
Maurice is a bit rough around the edges but as we learn about his life through his toasts to five people who have shaped it, you learn to love him. There was something reminiscent of Ove from Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove in Maurice and I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with Maurice in this book. By the last page, you really feel like Maurice is an old friend you’ve been catching up with over a drink at the pub, and it’s always special to find a main character who becomes a friend.
The book is an interesting premise, and though it seems like 5 toasts to different people in your life can’t quite make up a story, Griffin perfectly weaves all of these seemingly inconsequential tangents together to round out this book that is full of heart-ache and warmth. The storytelling in this book feels unique, but in a way that is both a comfort and joy to read.
If you are an emotional reader, as I most certainly am, be prepared to go on a bit of a ride with this one as Maurice reflects on past heartaches, physical altercations, regrets, loves, and a wealth of other experiences. You really do stick with him, riding the highs and lows of an 84-year-old life in a visceral way.
Verdict: Though not filled with action, the pacing and heart of this novel will keep you reading and full of emotion.
Page Length: 266
Publisher: Sceptre Books
What was the last book you got emotional over? Are you an emotional reader or do you manage to distance yourself from the emotions of the characters?
Thanks to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.