What comes to us when all is said? For some, it may be regret--the vicious, unthoughtful words that slip through our tongue, like barbed things. For some others, when all is said we are left pensive, contemplative, replaying our lives like film reels...and here again, does the regret seep in? Maybe. But fond memories too, all playing back through our minds when we've nothing left to say.
For Maurice Hannigan, an elderly man sitting alone in the Rainford Hotel, when all is said, comes peace. Liberation. And, a desperate wanting that cannot be filled by more temporal time.
When All Is Said by Anne Griffin is a sweeping multi-generational family saga borne from pain, regret, love, redemption (and yes, some humor too). Folding through past and present, it tells the story of Maurice through five toasts, five drinks, over one day. As he sits there, warming each drink with his hands and his heart, Maurice winds back over the years from pre-war Ireland (WWII) to present. He revisits his childhood, difficult and full of loss (and more strength than even he himself would give credit to). He spends sunshine afternoons with a ghost. He meets his wife. He loses his wife. He comes to terms with hard decisions, made harder by the consequences they've had. He forgives. He loves--his wife, his son, his sister-in-law...and maybe, at the end, even himself. Ultimately, he arrives at hard-won peace.
Beautifully told, with characters that become as real to us as our own neighbors, When All Is Said is a work of beauty. I smiled. I winced. I laughed. And yes, I cried.
Fans of A Man Called Ove and The Five People You Meet In Heaven will enjoy this book!
A huge thanks to St. Martin's Press who provided this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.