Book Review: When All Is Said – Anne Griffin

When All Is Said book photo

Rating: 1 out of 3.

A story of nostalgia and regrets, packaged in an intriguing little ceremony. Anne Griffin, an experienced writer of short stories, makes her debut as a novelist with a wistful backstory narrative and puzzle. It’s peppered with the main character’s flaws and charms, as well as the unravelling of a precious mystery. When All Is Said picks its words carefully.

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Grey Character

An old man, Maurice Hannigan, tells his story from a hotel’s bar, where he makes five toasts to five special people in his life. A personality as rugged as his life, overshadowed by pain, hardship and resentment, drives the narration from his childhood to this moment at the bar. His emotionally charged thoughts make the story resonate with his heart’s ups and downs. Sometimes taking him by surprise too.

Narrative of Memories

There’s a particular quality to stories made up of recollections. No matter how organised their structure is, they jump between memories and thoughts. And that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do. It’s easy for such narratives to become too complex and confusing, but When All Is Said maintains a nice balance between convincing recollection and an engaging pace. All its scenes, both lovely and disturbing, form layers upon layers of meaning that develop the story and Maurice’s character.

Immersive Plot & Themes

Nostalgic stories are known to ramble and lose modern readers more accustomed to finely tuned and speedy narratives. This novel, however, in addition to using weighty themes of mental health and social class, breaks the storytelling down into chunks that always revert back to the “present” of the almost ritualistic toasts. Their intrigue alongside a bigger enigma involving a coin and a fallen family serve as perfect hooks to keep you interested in finding out how it’s all related and resolved.

Conclusion

When All Is Said has distinctive heart and style. It plays with many different literary features, while delivering a sentimental story about forgiveness and unexpressed love.  

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Author: Electra Nanou

Wordy weirdo

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