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Review: Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Title: Small Things Like These
Author: Claire Keegan
Year published: 2021
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 128 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map): Ireland

SummaryIt is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church. 

Already an international bestseller, Small Things Like These is a deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy from one of our most critically lauded and iconic writers.

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed Keegan's other book Foster (see my review here) a few weeks ago so couldn't resist getting a copy of this novel to read. It now has a place on my permanent shelf (I wish I'd kept Foster as well). I can see why this won the Orwell Prize in 2022 and was on the short list for the Booker Prize.

Keegan has a gentle way of writing that sets just the right tone for her settings. In both of these novels, Keegan manages to show us what life is like for ordinary people who go above and beyond for someone else. What strikes me most is that she tackles topics which are very serious (abuse by the Catholic church, but not the abuse that has hit the news over the past decade) and does it in a gentle, slow, "ordinary" way. That sounds like she doesn't take it seriously, but she does. I think she is showing her readers that these traumas and abuses are happening before us, that most of us don't react or do anything about it, but all it takes is the actions of every day people to make a difference.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Popsugar--Wish I could read it again for the first time

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