When All Is Said.
Booklist Reviews 2019 February #1
Few things are as comforting to Maurice Hannigan as the first sip of a good stout. Looking back on a lifetime of memories, both gut-bustingly happy and tearjerkingly sad, it's often the smallest comforts that put him at ease. Maurice has watched the landscape of County Meath, Ireland, and the attitudes of its inhabitants change around him. Now nearing the end of his life, he sidles up to his favorite bar at the Rainsford House Hotel and settles in for a night of reminiscing. With each drink, he dives deep into his memory to focus on one of the five people who've made a difference in his life, good or bad. Through Maurice's toasts, Griffin paints a full portrait of his life, giving even the simplest memory weight and resonance. Fans of Anne Tyler and Sara Baume will appreciate Griffin's sense of personal history and her bright, lyrical voice. Her deeply moving debut novel highlights the power of nostalgia, the pang of regret, and the impact that very special individuals can have on our lives. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2018 October #2
Winner of the John McGahern Award for Literature, Irish author Griffin offers a debut whose protagonist unfolds his life story by ordering five different drinks at the Rainford House Hotel and toasting his tragic older brother, his sorrowful sister-in-law, his daughter of 15 minutes, his son in America, and the wife he misses dearly.Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
LJ Reviews 2019 January #1
DEBUT A successful County Meath dairyman, 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan, enters a hotel bar on a July evening in 2014 to toast five people who have significantly influenced his life. Maurice's praises are solitary and silent, addressed to an imagined audience: his son living in America. Each toast occasions an account of events that have shaped Maurice's existence, revelations of secrets he's kept, and explanations of decisions he's made, some of which have destroyed lives. Maurice also considers the nature of chance and how our decisions can create as well as confound opportunity. When all is said and done, Maurice abandons regret while making a full reckoning of his losses to embrace a certain kind of peace. Newcomer Griffin's storytelling, while economical, is rich and evocative, and her deft pacing maintains suspense across several narrative arcs spanning multiple time lines. Her gift for characterization is so powerful that a commemorative coin becomes one of the book's most compelling characters. Most impressive, of course, is her creation of Maurice. His voice is credible, his story absorbing, and his humanity painfully familiar.
PW Reviews 2019 January #3
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.