Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan [9/10]

Some writers you come to well after they set off on their journeys and such is the case with Claire Keegan. Thrilled by the perfection of The Quiet Girl movie (see my review), I nabbed “Small Things Like These” and found concise, precise bliss. In a small Irish town in the mid-80s, Bill is going about his busy trade as a timber and coal merchant when he encounters a moral wrong which, as Christmas approaches, sends his memories spiraling back into his childhood. Over just 120 pages, the author documents Bill’s ordinary days among his world and his family of five girls, while revealing a heart yearning for goodness. Every page brings to life the world, the man, the ethical starkness, and the seemingly gentle pace actually burns with urgency. The climax is as unforgettable as it is prosaic and inconclusive. One of the outstanding novels of my 2022 reading, Small Things Like These comes with a sticker: unreservedly recommended.

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