Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These was shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize and so far is the only one on that list that I have read. There are another few which I fancy so I might get around to them at some point.
About the Book
It is 1985, in an Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, faces into his busiest season. As he does the rounds, he feels the past rising up to meet him – and encounters the complicit silences of a people controlled by the Church.
The long-awaited new work from the author of Foster, Small Things Like These is an unforgettable story of hope, quiet heroism and tenderness.
Small Things Like These is a very short book, a novella really, but it packs a lot into its few pages. I haven’t read anything by this author before but will definitely read more. It begins at the end of October, which seemed apt, but focusses on the lead up to Christmas in a small Irish town. It almost felt like it was from an earlier time than the mid 80s as Bill Furlong delivers his coal and timber to the local people. There is a sense of the cold, dreary days and a long, dark winter faced by the people in the town.
His quiet love for his five daughters and his wife shines through the book. He is well aware that the situation for him and his own mother could have been very different but for the kindness and acceptance of one woman. It is perhaps this that is behind his own compassionate decisions in the story. With this book being so short, I feel I can’t really say more about what happens without giving away part of the plot.
It didn’t take me long to read Small Things Like These, a book with every word and phrase so beautifully written. I found the insight we are given into Bill Furlong’s character rather poignant. The book touches on a period of Irish history which is quite disturbing particularly when you consider it wasn’t so very long ago. Small Things Like These is a compelling read filled with love, kindness and hope.
I bought myself a Kindle copy of this book and it is also available in hardback
and audiobook. Small Things Like These is published by Faber & Faber
and available from all good book retailers.
About the Author
Claire Keegan was born in 1968 and grew up on a farm in Wicklow. Her first collection of short stories, Antarctica, was completed in 1998. It announced her as an exceptionally gifted and versatile writer of contemporary fiction and was awarded the Rooney Prize for Literature. Her second short story collection, Walk the Blue Fields, was published to enormous critical acclaim in 2007 and won her the 2008 Edge Hill Prize for Short Stories. Claire Keegan lives in County Wexford, Ireland.