cover image When All Is Said

When All Is Said

Anne Griffin. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-20058-7

Griffin’s satisfactory debut takes place during one night in June 2014, at a hotel bar in a small Irish city. Talkative Maurice Hannigan, 84, has settled down for a long night of drinking, with each of his drinks raised to some absent loved one: his older brother, a stillborn daughter, his disturbed sister-in-law, his deceased wife, and his son, Kevin, who has moved to America to work and raise a family. Addressing that son in his mind throughout the novel, Maurice ranges back and forth through a life that began in poverty and ended with his buying up much of the county. Key to the story are Maurice’s impulsive pocketing of a rare coin when he was a boy working in the manor that has now become the hotel where he is drinking, and the conflicts between Maurice’s struggling family and the wealthy one that used to control life in their county. While the plot hinges heavily on coincidence, and the device of addressing an absent son feels extraneous, Maurice is a likable and complex character with a voice that readers will be drawn to. Maurice’s humor, his keen observations on class and family, and his colloquial language, as well as Griffin’s strong sense of place, create the feeling of a life connected to many others by strands of affection and hatred. (Mar.)