When All Is Said

St. Martin's. Mar. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781250200587. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250200594. F
OrangeReviewStarDEBUT 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.
VERDICT Highly recommended; this unforgettable first novel introduces Griffin as a writer to watch. [See Prepub Alert, 9/24/18.]

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