Book Review: When All Is Said

A few weeks back I picked up a book at Afterword Tavern & Shelves: Kansas City. I grabbed When All Is Said by Anne Griffin. I was intrigued by the cover, and the description of the book. It sounded heartfelt, and a change of pace from the kind of books I seem often to gravitate towards.

A tale of a single night. The story of a lifetime.

If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?

This is the story of Maurice Hannigan, who, over the course of a Saturday night in June, orders five different drinks at the Rainford House Hotel. With each he toasts a person vital to him: his doomed older brother, his troubled sister-in-law, his daughter of fifteen minutes, his son far off in America, and his late, lamented wife. And through these people, the ones who left him behind, he tells the story of his own life, with all its regrets and feuds, loves and triumphs.

Beautifully written, powerfully felt, When All Is Said promises to be the next great Irish novel. ” — Goodreads


I gave this novel three stars. This story was beautifully written and it reminded me, in a lot of ways, of A Man Called Ove, which is a novel I loved very much. However, the story just left something to be desired for me. The book was, to me at least, pretty obviously leading to a specific event which I think was supposed to feel like a twist or a shock, and it didn’t.


I do admire that the author seemed to take their time telling the story– which felt like a direct personality trait of the authors subject and narrator, Maurice. That being said, when a book has chapters that feel abnormally long I struggle a little to get sucked in, and to urge myself to keep reading.

This book has an average rating of 4.14 on Goodreads so I seem to be alone in my some of my feelings. This book definitely made me think about things I’d want to say to the most influential people at the end of my life, but it didn’t give me the heart-tugging feeling others reviewers seemed to experience.


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