Eighty-four-year-old Maurice Hannigan has posted himself up at a hotel bar one evening with a plan in mind: this
evening he will drink a toast to five of the people he loved most.
Maurice drinks to his older brother, his daughter, his sister-in-law, his son, and his wife, each with his or her own separate and deliberately selected drink. This detail serves, to me, as the first glimpse into the true tenderness under Maurice’s grumpy-Irish-old-guy exterior, and lays a polite foundation for his genuine inner mechanics to be fully displayed by the tale’s end.
As someone who has never been to Ireland, the novel’s outset seems to be a delightful and pastoral representation of exactly what I would expect to be happening in rural Ireland at a given time: a lovably curmudgeony old guy is sitting at a bar drinking a stout, and damned if anyone is going to tell him otherwise. I was hooked from the moment I met Maurice. Griffin’s lyricism and literary set dressing, if you will, only flourishes from there: once Maurice begins to share his memories, the reader is in for a beautifully tender and characteristic journey through his youth through his young adulthood and married life and beyond.
Full of touching stories and experiences, as well as human error and reflection on what things truly stick with us, When All Is Said brims with emotional intelligence and intimacy that will endear the reader so much to its characters. Each chapter presents a new facet of reality; you will laugh and you will cry, you will relate to certain situations and experiences, and you’ll recognize your own successes and shortcomings in Maurice and his relationships.
A beautiful work, buy When All is Said here or, as always, find it at your local library. Happy reading 🙂