Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Book Review: "Small Things Like These" by Claire Keegan

Claire Keegan's Small Things Like These is a heartfelt novella that packs a major emotional punch.

Thanks so much to a Bookstagram friend of mine for putting this on my radar! Despite the cover and setting, this isn’t quite a “holiday” novel, although the theme of generosity is quite prevalent.

Ireland, 1985. Christmas is approaching. A purveyor of coal and other heating materials, Bill Furlong is in his busy season. As he and his men work tirelessly, he cannot help but reflect on his good fortune. He and his wife have five lovely, intelligent, talented daughters.

But Bill knows how different his life might have been. Born to a young, unwed mother who was working as a servant for a wealthy family, the matron of the family didn’t turn his mother away, as happened to so many young women in Ireland. The woman treated Bill in many ways as if he were a child of her own, and it set him down a path he never would have been able to follow otherwise. Sure, he wishes he knew who his father was, but he was lucky.

One day, while making a delivery to the local convent, he makes a shocking discovery. He can’t seem to get it out of his mind and knows he must do something to address it, even though he is warned about how his and his family’s lives could be upended.

I thought this was just fantastic. The vernacular took a little getting used to, but the story pulled me in, and I can’t get it out of my mind. Bill Furlong is definitely a memorable character.

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