When All Is Said. If you were to toast five people in your life, who would they be?

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

When All Is Said. Maurice Hannigan is 84 and lived a very long, full life, but one that was not always brimming with joy.  A tough upbringing, bad decisions, guilt, love, laughter, distance and regret are what brings Maurice to a bar stool in a local hotel to toast the five most important people in his life.

Each chapter is dedicated to someone who changed Maurice’s life forever, from family members to the love of his life. He regails stories and tiny, poignant moments which affected him then and now.  Surrounding Maurices life, like a shroud, is the dark influence of the neighbouring Dollard family and as Maurice reflects on his life, revelations are laid bare and secrets told which change everything.

Duffy’s thoughts When All Is Said

Anne Griffin writes with an undeniably Irish prose. So much so, I had to stop and re-read a few sentences which didn’t flow at first read. The five chapters, or ‘toasts’ are layered and incredibly detailed. Maurice is a stubborn, distant, sometimes cantankerous old man and doesn’t have too many discernable qualities, but there is something there which makes you feel empathy for an old man. A product of a bygone era and circumstance.

The first toast to Maurice’s brother Tony, was a corker and hit me hard, drawing me instantly into the life of Maurice Hannigan. The following chapters were also very well written and touching, however that first tale of brotherly love and loyalty is the one that stays with me. On occasion I did find myself skimming past Maurice’s ramblings, and it did make me lose the draw of the story, but on reflection, this is the talk of an 84 year old man drinking alone at a bar. Rambling at times is inevitable.  

When All Is Said is a melancholy 5-act Irish tale of family, regret, love and secrets set at a gentle, meandering pace. If you enjoy family saga’s, you’ll enjoy this one.

Published in February by Hachette RRP $29.99

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When All Is Said. Five Toasts. Five People