Tuesday 5 February 2019

When All is Said - Anne Griffin

'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.

What did I think?

Oh my goodness, what an absolutely breathtaking book; I could honestly have read several hundred more pages of Maurice's story that is so flawlessly written by Anne Griffin.  I simply couldn't put it down, despite knowing that I was hurtling towards an inevitably heartbreaking ending.

I initially thought of Maurice as a bit of a grumpy old man; he's a bit like a conker - rather prickly on the outside but with a smooth and polished heart.  As Maurice shares his story, by raising a glass to 5 people he has loved throughout his life, we get to know him inside and out.  I was actually very surprised to find, as the tears rolled down my face, that Maurice had burrowed his way into my heart, and not just because we share tastes where drinks are concerned.  So it was with both tears of sadness and joy that I turned the final page and paused to catch my breath, raising my own virtual glass to Maurice.

I am absolutely stunned that When All is Said is Anne Griffin's debut novel.  The writing is so vivid and multi-dimensional that I felt as if I was sitting at the bar listening to Maurice's story.  As a fan of Irish alcoholic beverages, I do admit to being intrigued to see what drink Maurice would choose next and I was tickled pink that he chose to have a drop of my favourite Irish Whiskey, Bushmills.  This is a story I will never forget and every time I have a drop of Guinness or Bushmills I will raise a toast to my old pal Maurice Hannigan.

Anne Griffin is a natural storyteller and I have no doubt that her beautiful and breathtaking debut, When All is Said, is destined to be a worldwide bestseller.  I heartily recommend this novel and even if you don't read it with a pint of Guinness or a drop of Bushmills you will still feel as if you're sitting at the bar with Maurice.  Sláinte!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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