Read The All of It by Jeannette Haien Online

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A sleeper hit when first published in 1986, Jeannette Haien's exquisite, beloved first novel is a deceptively simple story that has the power and resonance of myth. The story begins on a rainy morning as Father Declan de Loughry stands fishing in an Irish salmon stream, pondering the recent deathbed confession of one of his parishioners. Kevin Dennehy and his wife, Enda, hA sleeper hit when first published in 1986, Jeannette Haien's exquisite, beloved first novel is a deceptively simple story that has the power and resonance of myth. The story begins on a rainy morning as Father Declan de Loughry stands fishing in an Irish salmon stream, pondering the recent deathbed confession of one of his parishioners. Kevin Dennehy and his wife, Enda, have been sweetly living a lie for some 50 years, a lie the full extent of which Father Declan learns only when Enda finally confides "the all of it." Her tale of suffering mesmerizes the priest, who recognizes that it is also a tale of sin and scandal, a transgression he cannot ignore. The resolution of his dilemma is a triumph of strength and empathy that, as Benedict Kiely has said, makes "The All of It" "a book to remember."...

Title : The All of It
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780060971472
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 160 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The All of It Reviews

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-03-07 07:37

    When this won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction in 1987, the author was in her sixties. It’s since been championed by Ann Patchett, who contributed a Foreword to this 2011 edition. Father Declan de Loughry, fishing for salmon, reflects on the recent death of parishioner Kevin Dennehy. Before he died, Kevin admitted that he and Enda were never properly married. Yet Enda begs the priest to approve a death notice calling Kevin her “beloved husband,” promising she’ll then explain “the all of it” – the very good reason they never married. As she tells her full story, which occupies the bulk of the novella, Father Declan tries to strike a balance between the moral high ground and human compassion. Enda’s initial confession on page 27 is explosive, but the rest of this quiet book doesn’t ever live up to it. I was reminded of Mary Costello’s Academy Street, a more successful short book about an Irish life. Favorite passage: “One thing I’ve learned, Father—that in this life it’s best to keep the then and the now and the what’s-to-be as close together in your thoughts as you can. It’s when you let gaps creep in, when you separate out the intervals and dwell on them, that you can’t bear the sorrow.”Recently reviewed, along with five other novellas, on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  • Elizabeth Quinn
    2019-02-26 11:28

    Jeannette Haien's first novel is getting a new wave of attention these days because novelist Ann Patchett is raving about it on her current book tour. I think many readers will be disappointed. It's really a novella or a long short story, and like those shorter genres favors characters over plot. The All of It is basically the study of two characters: Enda, the beautiful 60-something widow whose husband has gone to his grave carrying their big secret, leaving her to reveal it to their confessor, and Father Declan, the 60-something priest who's torn between his priestly duty and manly needs as he hears the story. The secret itself isn't much of a shock, and the reaction of many readers will be, "That's it!?!" Here's what happens in the novel: Enda tells her story and Father Declan goes fishing. Much is left unsaid and many questions are unanswered. If you read for character and like short stories, this novel may work for you. If you read for plot and prefer novels, probably not.

  • Steven
    2019-03-04 10:11

    I read this book in one sitting...not so much because it was a great story or the plot was captivating but just because it was so easy too read. I reluctantly gave it 3 stars only because I couldn't give it 2 1/2. I guess I was not a big fan because I feel the author talks about things for the sake of shock and which she knows nothing about. when she says something about Americans and the English wrecking a harbor town by making it a popular visiting place, I wonder if she knows she just did the same with her novel? Only she didn't make any of it enticing for me to visit or experience. But I read it. Now you should read it too and tell me why I'm so wrong.

  • Charles
    2019-03-19 13:35

    The author was in her middle sixties when it was published to good reviews but few sales by David Godine. Harper's Perennial Library republished it in 1988; again it went out of print. Perhaps it's to the credit our country's advance in literacy that it was picked up again for this Harper Perennial paperback, two years ago, with a warm foreword by Ann Patchett, who likens its urgent, disciplined, fascinating package, running fewer than 150 pages, to that of The Great Gatsby; Miss Lonelyhearts; So Long, See You Tomorrow — "each… a world in miniature. I haven't read that third title; let me substitute Carson McCullers's The Ballad of the Sad Café.To describe the plot is to give its MacGuffin away, but the author does that anyhow after the first sixth of the novel. It concerns Thomas and Enda Dunn, who have lived together as man and wife in Dennery, County Mayo, as hidebound Catholic a setting as imaginable for nearly fifty years, well respected for their simplicity and hard work, and sympathized with for their lack of progeny.Tom dies having revealed the immediate reason for this but before getting to the proximate cause, persuading Father Declan, warm but strict, to file a customary death notice by promising his widow will provide it. When she does, on page twenty-seven, she has concluded an extraordinarily tense yet seductive short story, a psychological inspection of Father Declan and Enda as they draw the triple revelation into the light of day.But that's not The All of It. That develops through the rest of the book, which you can hardly help continuing to read without once putting it down. It's a conventional story of abusive father, deprived children, utter poverty; then freedom, fear, flight; ultimately haven. Beyond these rather Brontëesque qualities lie late 20th-century views of the peasant life, the transcendence of Nature, and the virtues of work and frugality — written without sentimentality or nostalgia.All couched in a literary style that's elegant, compelling, and — well, here's an example from a description of Father Declans trout-fishing through a downpour:"Trekking the lengthy distance back to the glide, he looked up once from the slippery shoreline and saw a kestrel sitting in the drench of the sky and thought of Kevin — or his tame, envying fondness for the wild, unlimited creature. The bird lingered above him, watching, interested: Ariel observing Caliban… The notion bestowed on him for the first time that day a sense of relationship to the immutable in nature, and, in the soothe of the perspective, he felt himself growing calm."In the end you may be thinking of the form of this marvelous book, whose first sixth is the rest of the book in microcosm; or you may be reflecting on the two principal characters, fully three-dimensional and engaged in a relationship whose nature is never really revealed or resolved. Or you may, as I do at this moment, be reflecting on the inevitability of death in the opening chapters, and of Life through the rest. As Patchett says, it's "a tale of morality in which we are asked to examine our own judgment," yet also a tale of fidelity and acceptance that urges us to examine ours. "It's a marvel that anywone could accomplish so much in such a short space," but a reassuring marvel and a reminder of other examples in other genres.

  • Lindsay Heller
    2019-03-03 10:35

    This was a very little book that I picked up and started reading at a thrift store. About ten pages in I thought I should probably buy it. It's difficult to cram a whole story into 150 pages, especially when a portion of them are about fly fishing, but Haien pulls it off.This is, essentially, the story of a priest, Father Declan, who, upon the death of one of his parishoners, Kevin Dennehy, discovers that he has been living a lie with his wife, Enda, for the past fifty years.It's really a poignant little piece about morality but since I don't have many of those I enjoyed this book for it's story. Enda and Kevin's story was the bulk of the book, taking about about seventy pages, and that was by far my favorite part of this book. Declan's parts consisted of, mostly, moral dilemmas and fly fishing. I don't particularly care for either. But I also greatly enjoy Declan's obvious soft spot for Enda, which came off, to me, as the beginnings of romatic feelings despite his priesthood and her recent berivement. I doubt, should this tale continue, that this would have ended up being the case, but it felt palpable to me.This is a complicated little tale which is also painfully simple. I suppose, in the end, it's about truth and loss and perceptions and where those tie in with god. I liked it, it was very well done, but I doubt it will stay with me.

  • Blaire
    2019-03-15 08:27

    This is one of those unassuming little gems that you run across once in a while. It is set in Ireland, more or less in the current time. Its structure is interesting. It's a story within a story within a story. The first level is a fishing trip that one of the protagonists, Father Declan de Loughry, has taken the day after one of his parishioners, Kevin Dennehy, has died. As he fishes he ruminates about the previous day when he and the dead man's wife, Enda, kept watch by the body. That's the second story. The third story is the one Enda tells him, while they are waiting for the mourners to arrive, of her life with Kevin. The transition between time frames could have been confusing, but it's done with such simplicity and elegance that it all seems effortless. The three levels are tied together nicely by interesting moral questions that, while serious, are presented with subtlety and warmth. All of this in 145 pages. I recommend it highly.

  • Sue
    2019-02-27 08:27

    A very Irish tale, set in the days following a man's death as he has been unable to complete his final confession with the village priest. It was obviously a confession of import, now left to his wife to reveal. the story that follows is one of sorrow, sin, redemption, happiness, spite, and ultimately compassion. A gentle story, I enjoyed, which ultimately revealed the common, good threads of much of humanity.

  • Jenni
    2019-03-11 09:32

    Actual star rating: 3.5

  • Terzah
    2019-03-03 12:22

    Set in Ireland, this short book is the story of a priest, Father Declan, who hears the life story of one of his flock, Enda. Enda's life companion Kevin has just died, and they shared a secret. Their past makes for a harrowing little story in itself, but the real tale here is how it affects Father Declan, who must choose to react as a duty-bound Catholic priest or as a human being, Enda's friend. Throughout, the author weaves beautiful descriptions of the cathartic salmon-fishing trip Father Declan takes the day after Kevin's funeral (and I admired these sections even as someone with no real knowledge of or interest in fishing). In the end, this is a story of redemption and forgiveness, of how we *all* need both. I realized that all of the books I like best share this theme, from The Lord of the Rings on to this slender little gift of a novel. After reading it, I fell asleep peacefully, feeling redeemed myself and reminded of the power of real literature.

  • Laurie Rockenbeck
    2019-02-28 07:20

    This book is definitely not a mainstream novel, but falls clearly into the "literary" novel pile. The book called to me when I was doing other things, and I found myself wondering about Enda and the priest. I have to admit to sitting upright when I clicked the "next" page on my kindle only to find out that the book was at the end. We are so used to having things spelled out for us that it is sometimes hard to finish a book with so many things left to my own imagination. If you are looking for a "regular" story, you won't find it here. The plot is pretty much: a man dies, a woman tells their story, and a priest goes fishing. But the telling of it is lyrical and sweet. The four or so hours it might take you to read it is well worth the time.

  • N.
    2019-02-28 12:23

    However lyrical this book may be, there was just no story to speak of, no point, really. The plot was thin, at best, the characters under-developed; the "big secret" was predictable and revealed too early on. Because I was not even given a chance to care for the characters before the climax was reached, it left me hoping for more substance. I even assumed that perhaps there was one more big secret, but alas, nothing:(.

  • Heidi
    2019-03-19 06:08

    very short read. English is such an interesting language because i feel as though this Irish-English experience opened my eyes to some beautiful other world-like poetry...

  • Cindy
    2019-03-05 09:18

    What a wonderful little novel. Charming characters with page turning story to tell.

  • Julia
    2019-03-19 07:12

    a perfect little gem, like an irish breeze. slim but weighty - very evocative

  • Kate
    2019-03-09 13:07

    3.5. I quite enjoyed this short novel. Thanks for the lend, Kerry!

  • Sally Gonzalez
    2019-03-19 09:24

    Absolutely charmed by this novel. A beautifully written little gem of a book.

  • Jane
    2019-03-16 12:23

    What a beautiful, heartbreaking story about two people who grow up in spite of horrific childhoods, leave their godforsaken home, find a place for themselves in a small village in Ireland, and make good lives. The influence of religion, both its solace and its proud arrogance and destructive dogma, plays a big part in the story. I loved the language, as well as the tenderness and strength of these characters. Can't recommend it highly enough.Like the priests in Trevor's A Bit on the Side, the priests in The All of It, have so much power...to absolve, to say a choice is good, or that it's sinful. When Kevin and Enda come to the small town of Roonatellin and find a rundown cottage, Father Daniels has to judge "so gallimaufry a situation, the sincerity of their Christian seemingness, the reality and extent of their skills and finally decide, after putting to himself the question, Why not, in the name of creation, give them their chance at their vision of Eden?" This is the kind of writing that seduced me. Oh My. "Looking back, I don't see how we did it, Father. The fall, you know, and the winter before us, and having to make the place snug," She shook her head. It was bone-breaking work. There were times I thought Kevin would collapse." "It's mind-boggling how he did it. Yourself, too," he said in a voice which rang with admiration. (101) It was terrible the way his splendid excitement had vanished almost the instant he'd left the Castle, and started his homeward journey, the lilt and thrill of his great adventure draining from him suddenly, to be as suddenly replaced by a violent flush of self pity caused (admit it) by the sorrowful fact that at the end of the long night drive there would be nought for him but the bulk emptiness of the bleak parish-house, its outside walls bleeding with damp, its windows dark, its high, cold rooms devoid of life, except as he would enter them only to encounter , going before him in the chilly chamber, the exhaled ghostly haze of his own breath...that deadliness, juxtaposed to the powerfulness vivid of its imagined opposite: anticipation of a lit window, of a waiting presence, of a voice asking those simple, linking, engaging questions which absence inspires: "How are you?" "How did you fare?" "What was it like?" (134, 135) I can hear the Irish lilt in all these sentences. I'm not quite sure how she did it...caught the horror of a poverty-struck Irish childhood, the love of a brother and sister who clung to each other in order to survive and the love of a doctrinaire priest who let himself be changed by listening, by an attention that overcame the things he saw as sin, revealing them as a glorious endurance. I loved this book. Even more, on second reading.And now, reading it again with a book club in December 2017, I'm reminded of how I love how fierce Enda is. She asks Father Declan to listen to her as a friend as she tells her story, and Kevin's story. He replies that he can't divide himself that way. Enda is furious. Fr. Declan clearly hasn't understood what their situation had been. But she persists in telling him, and he persists in listening and trying to understand. By the end, it's clear she has caught him. He's half in love with her. Who wouldn't be? And the theme of fishing and luring and netting runs through the entire river of the story. Father Declan encourages Enda not to "dwell on the story. It'll do no good..I can't imagine how terrible it must have bee.""No you can't," she said abruptly, though not unkindly. "It's something that can't be imagined. But you're right, Father, that it does no good to dwell on it, all these years later especially. At the time, though, we had nought but to dwell on it. (54) (66) when they realize they are free. (68) We were so green, you know. Hardly born, as you might say, in terms of what we knew of the world." (70) They go to Ballymote and work, then to Roonah Quay. Fr.Declan wants to hear it all and Enda is astonished. "Father dear, that you care so!" She opened out her hands to him. 84/85"You've netted me with your telling," he said with a rushing sense of elation. You can see how this story traps you, nets you, takes you in. other moments: p. 92, 95, 101As I write about it, I love this book even more.

  • Sloane Mayberry
    2019-03-06 08:09

    I have very few 5 star books but i thought this read like a piece of literature. Really great depth...I wish it had been longer.

  • Amy
    2019-02-21 08:33

    3.5+ stars. Read due to a passionate endorsement from Ann Patchett, whom I admire.This is a small, simple-seeming novella about a confession and the impact of the conversation on the receiving priest. Though the confession lies at the heart of the tale, the 'reveal' is actually barely touched on and doesn't really ripple through the tale or the reader, though it is keenly felt by the priest. Really, this is a vehicle to describe - in gorgeous prose - first independence, isolation, love of the land and yearning. So while the plot might lose some points with me, the turns of phrase and the empathy elicited caused me to enjoy the book deeply. Meanwhile, I don't think I've ever seen so much semi-colon usage in a text! Ever.The confessor is Enda, a 60-something, simply-speaking parishioner who struggles to read and had no family other than her recently departed husband Kevin. She is able to express their experiences as children so beautifully though one can't help but admire her as when describing Kevin's reaction to his first truly-free view from a hillock:...he sat mute, in a paralysis of involvement , as might a man who hears a call from the dead and desires passionately to answer but cannot, being caught unready, and too amazed, and too glad for belief.Meanwhile the audience, Father Declan, who stands in for the reader, falls into a sort of spell of breath-held wonder at the scenes Enda describes and the range of emotions she reflects upon that still radiate from her person. For in the few days that the scenes unfold, death is all around - at the actual deathbed, the wake, the funeral - and Enda is bursting with life. Everything else pales. The priest feels slighted at one point in the telling and thinks Had she not heard the words, or was he, as a priest, so little to her she felt no need to give him mind? And to spring it on him like this, as a fact of imminent occurrence, causing him this itch of pique, nettle that she was, sitting there before him, her excitement all unhidden, and himself bit by a blade of sudden hurt and the question as suddenly forced in his mind: Am I, then, less to her than I would wish to be?One of the reasons I love the recommender, Ann Patchett, so much is her ability to make me see and feel and embody a scene that is being described; to the point where the characters' traits start to rub off and absorb into my psyche. In Bel Canto, I picked up a slight obsession with opera and followed up with her essays on the subject and hunted down audio files to listen in on a previously avoided genre of music. I proved as susceptible to Haien: I have zero interest in fishing and would conceive of slogging all day in the rail to no avail as a cruel sort of torture, yet this passage transported me. No question, though, that he would: go on casting; go on desiring. Nothing to be done about the desiring, whitely chastened now though it was. Every aspect of every minute of the entire day - rain without surcease spilling out of the black and liquid sky; slough, fierce sweeps of the wind; the swollen, silt-ridden, ever-swiftening river; the torturing midges; the ghosting mists like amorphous shifts of sorrow - all had acted in perfect scheme to chasten desire. Nought, though, can ever fully dry the angler's heart of it.

  • Chris Reid
    2019-03-16 07:21

    I am not sure at the moment how this book came into my hands. Joan said that it had arrived from Amazon with no sender address that she could discern. An Irish priest bearing the almost too perfect name of Declan de Loughry, is thrashing a beat that he had taken for the day. The river keeper attempted to talk the priest down from making the effort - the rains had made the salmon take to lying sulkily at the bottom and the midges! The there was the next to useless ghillie (Seamus, I recall, a truly archetypal of surly wasted 18-year old) who was only adding to the frustration and futility to his day. A foolish effort made with only a day’s notice.The fishing is only the beginning; the fishing is a way to show the priest’s difference from the world around him, to show his somewhat grander station, his determination and maybe his foolishness in the face of a reality that would say, ’This is a bad day for such enterprise; lay down your rod, come into the stone hut beside the river, out of the rain, out of the cold.’ But Declan is pursuing both salmon and his growing attraction to the strange Enda (how hard a name for an American to read in a book) Dennehy who has just lost her husband - who turns out to have been her brother. Declan continues to thrash the river with no results and a growing sense of futility (I will continue to flog this water because that is what I must do now) and continues to listen in growing rapture to the strange, beguiling tale that Enda spins out.The good priest increasingly understands that the measure of this woman and the measure of his interest and desire to know more and more is outside of the world he inhabits and is informed by a different set of rules and sensibilities. The relationship changes from parishioner and priest to woman and man - and the relationship with the river changes, too. There is a cove that has changed in all the rains over the past days; there is a different fly, little more than a seatrout fly, tied on, and there is a magnificent salmon!We are properly left to wonder about the next conversation between Enda and Declan. There is no sense of false neatness; there is a sense of possibility against great odds.

  • Herb
    2019-02-19 12:32

    A lovely story, and perhaps an ideal example of why the novella form exists. I was powerfully taken with Enda's description of her life with Kevin. The fact that Ireland even into that era had people so distant and isolated... that a clever and creative woman such as Enda would never have been taught to read... that the horse and the donkey and the car would remain so interwoven... that the Church would still exercise such presumed authority over its parishioners' lives. It was often irrelevant which century this story had been set in; it could have been 1960 or 1660.The whole thing with the fly fishing didn't quite feel of a piece, and the miracle of catching the 24-pound salmon on the last cast of a failed day with the wrong fly with the inept ghillie... it felt a bit of magical realism inserted into an otherwise very true, very earthbound story. But the miracle of the fish (almost overt enough to have needed loaves to go with it) aside, I LOVED Declan's realization that in Enda's telling of her tale, she had allowed him for the first time in decades to be seen simply as a friend... and his realization of how badly he had suffered for the lack of it, and his imagining of his own demise through the nervous breakdown to which he'd seen other priests fall, sent away to the monastery to water plants and clean potatoes. This passage...The ease of it! The lack of struggle! No violent, fanged, explosive impulsion of will—just the determination that this once, at the end of this day of days, he would do what he wished to do......was just brilliant in its quiet revelation. Both Enda and Declan would move on as new people after their mutual unveiling.

  • Vegantrav
    2019-03-08 11:09

    Sometimes, I will just blindly pull a book from the shelves of the library, and this is how I came to read The All of It.This novella is not something I would normally read, but once I started reading it, it hooked me.An Irish priest visits one of his parishioners: Keven, a dying man, who tells Father Declan that he has a secret he must confess before he dies. The secret is a great lie, but before he can confess, Kevin dies.And so it is left to Kevin's wife, Enda, to confess, but she will not confess. Imperious, proud, and unregretful yet still ashamed, Enda will tell to Father Declan the tale, but not as a confession. For the lie is none of God's business, she tells Father Declan. Enda's tale is not terribly surprising, though the way it affects Father Declan is. The bulk of the book is taken up with Enda's tale, but the story is about Father Declan: it is the story of loneliness.Haien has spun out an interesting little gem here, for who would have expected the tale of an Irish widower about her life in rural, mid-20th-century Ireland could be of any interest to an American in 2009?I didn't think this was a great book or a compelling book or even a book with a great moral. But I still liked it. Like Father Declan, I was somehow entranced with Enda's story.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-02-26 08:31

    This poetic story captures the Irish cultural pattern of vague angst and pent-up desire that so often cascade into heated shouting and words that are hard to take back. Two plot lines run through the book involving Father Declan--1) After Enda's husband (Kevin) passes Edna is telling Declan their life story. Declan rashly and falsely accuses her of continuing a "sin" with Kevin which brings their friendly conversation to a crashing halt. 2) Declan takes a quick cathartic fishing trip which allows him to replay the conversation and gives him a place to be persistent to the point of triumph. The shouting here is aimed at Seamus who serves as Declan's ghillie (basically helper/guide.) Declan needs Seamus to execute the net skillfully.The end of the book is the satisfaction of knowing that Declan and Edna are going to be friends as she says, "We're that alike in our needs."Although short, the story is very vivid. I loved the home that Kevin and Edna found and made their own and the small characteristics of that home that created such happiness in them. A minute detail was the mention of the "window taxes" imposed by the British. I have heard of this harsh and cruel practice in which windows were taxed. Really? The less light you allow into your home the less you have to pay?You can read more at:http://www.buildinghistory.org/taxati...

  • Mark
    2019-03-20 07:22

    The All of It, by Jeannette Haien, 1986. The book starts on the banks of a river in the west of Ireland, where a local priest sets out on a rainy, blustery day to catch a salmon, despite everyone’s advice that no fish would be caught that day. I was immeditately interested, of course, as a lover both of fishing and of Irish history and culture. As the story moved swiftly to its main narrative – the story of Enda, a middle-aged Irish countrywoman, I grew more intrigued. There were layers to her story as she told it to Father Declan, each stop like another pool or run in the river. I wonder how many readers of this book know the stature of the salmon in Irish mythology. A central story in Irish myth is the story of Finn McCool and the Salmon of All Knowledge. The pursuit to catch the salmon in “The All of It” parallels the unravelling of Enda’s story. At the end – knowledge, and something more. One reader says it is the only book he knows in which innocence follows experience. Liberation, too. A good book.

  • Judith
    2019-03-09 08:08

    Somewhere I read that Anna Patchett (author of "State of Wonder") highly recommended this book, so I put it on my list and forgot about it. Many moons later I stumbled onto the book and read it in one sitting, absolutely spellbound. It is a short sweet little story, and as the book jacket says:deceptively simple. I am particularly fussy about books set in Ireland and cannot tolerate anything that smacks of Begosh & Begoorah, heavy brogues, Irish spring, leprechauns, shamrocks, or the like. This book is thankfully free of all that, so the reader can feel immersed in Ireland, rather than an Irish gift shop. As Kevin Dennehy lies on his deathbed, he tries to confess a lifelong sin to the priest, Father Declan. He can't bring himself to do it, so his wife, Enda (yes, her name is Enda, not Edna) is left to tell the story after he dies. And that is "the all of it". I realize I can't do the tale justice, but it is a classically beautiful story.

  • Pat
    2019-03-17 12:10

    A wisp of an Irish gem...a story nestled in the seaside village of Roonatellin with the usual Catholic priest in attendance but with a "secret" so catastrophic that its mere revelation would certainly destroy the very fiber of human decency. Father Declan is called to a dying man's bedside to hear the confession of a wrong held in secret for the better part of 50 years..only Kevin dies before he can unburden his soul and Father is left to get "the all of it" from his wife, Enda. It is in the exquisite and lyrical rendering of this story-- the great secret being that appearances are not always what they seem-- that Haien outlines for us the dilemma that comes from sin and scandal and the redemptive power of empathy and human kindness. Treat yourself to a brief glimmer of hope and the inevitable power of love which hopefully remains the real essence of human decency.

  • Kate
    2019-03-19 09:18

    I read this because I heard Ann Patchett mentioned it in a talk of hers I saw on YouTube. I like reading author recs because they're always well-written, and this is surely that. The story itself nor its characters are all that remarkable, but I think that's kind of the point. The beauty of the writing and the story itself is in the subtleties. I enjoyed the insights the story lent itself to. Haien's description of the Irish countryside puts you there and I suppose that's a huge part of the book's charm. I read this in a weekend, so I recommend it if you're looking for something quick and engaging. “...in this life it’s best to keep the then and the now and the what’s-to-be as close together in your thoughts as you can. It’s when you let gaps creep in, when you separate out the intervals and dwell on them, that you can’t bear the sorrow."

  • Liz
    2019-03-03 10:25

    Absolutely a wonderful book! The forward by Ann Patchett is just as wonderful as the actual book. This novel is a simple story of love and of wanting a life that is free from the intrusions of the demands of others. A brother and sister live a simple life until the passing of the brother. At that time a secret is revealed to the local priest. You will come to love these characters, especially Enda and Father Declan de Loughry. The gift of this book however is in the writing. Every word is chosen carefully and each sentence constructed with such care. It was a delight to read and a book I cannot wait to pass on to others. The story is simply "the all of it"!

  • Sherrie Howey
    2019-03-11 05:19

    I recently attended a presentation by the author Ann Patchett at Bookhampton in East Hmpton where she recommended this book as a must read and I am in total agreement. Her only caveat was not to start the book as one was getting ready for bed as you would not be able to put it down. I started this book today and did not put it down once, except to grab a bite to eat. It is only 145 pages but is intensely thought provoking. It is about a priest who is about to hear a dying man's confession only to have to hear the story from Kevin's companion, Enda as Kevin does not live long enough to tell the story. Enda's story is one of survival, strength and courage and this is a book not to be missed.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-03-20 09:20

    This novella one a price for first fiction when it was originally published. It is a rather simple story told in gleaming and very picturesque prose. Has a limited number of characters, a man, a woman and a priest and the story is most told by the woman to the priest. There is some moral interplay here, because as a priest there is a clear line between right and wrong and not much grey, yet here in this little Irish village things may not be what they seem. A;though I am not very fond of fishing stories, though once upon a time I fished quite a bit, this has one of the best fishing scenes that I have read and I found out what a ghillie is.