Reviews

Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan

emadsett's review

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dark emotional hopeful reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

renlyb's review

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emotional hopeful informative mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

Rhythmic detail draws the reader joyfully into this tale of developing attitude and self-realisation
Brilliantly crafted with so few words giving such a rich description

futuremeowtician's review

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emotional reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

rnicaogain's review

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challenging dark emotional inspiring reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

ln2's review

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dark emotional mysterious sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

tanya_reads's review

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challenging emotional informative

5.0

stephskees's review

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dark emotional hopeful inspiring sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.75

yellowbrickfly's review

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challenging dark hopeful inspiring mysterious reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

Received an ARC from NetGalley

Claire Keegan’s ‘Small Things Like These’ takes Ursula K. Le Guin’s hypothetical about the ethics of ignorance from Omelas into the lived experience of 1980s Ireland. It’s a short book that focuses on a working class, middle aged father Bill Furlong, as he grapples with what it means to have just enough, while also having much more than most.

To me, this was primarily a story about confronting my own power and powerlessness. This book is Bill Furlong’s anxiety-ridden introspective journey from feeling helpless, to recognizing (with gratitude) the privileges and kindness he has been granted, to ultimately seeing himself as an individual with choice and power despite not being in an apparent position of power. At the core of this book is the choice between ignoring your conscience, and confronting the invisible power structures that you as an individual benefit from. The people of this small Irish town also remind the reader  that each of us has the ability to wield kindness, cruelty or generosity with every interaction.

juliannar's review against another edition

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emotional inspiring fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review!

I really liked this novella. Bill Furlong is a man with a good family and a solid career. He grew up with a single mother not knowing who his father is. When he is out on deliveries one day, he stops at a convent which holds a Magdalen laundry. This does not sit well with him, and the central moral tussle of the novel is what he should do. 

Keegan writes the story in a way that allows the reader to see the complex factors that go into every move Furlong makes. These are real characters in an unfortunately real setting. The Magdalen laundries are not something that I know about. They were truly terrible and just another blight on the Church. I am interested in learning more about them and I have Keegan to thank for that.

stacyroth's review

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3.0

In a small Irish town in 1985, Bill Furlong runs a business selling firewood and coal to residents of his community. After growing up not knowing who his father was, he takes pride in being able to provide for his wife and 5 daughters. While delivering coal to the local convent, he makes a disturbing discovery, making him look at his town in a different light as they remain complicit in the Church's actions.

Right as the story really started getting good, it ended! I would have liked to see this turned into a full-length novel. I felt like almost the entire story was setting the stage for the one thing that happened at the end. I enjoyed the novella overall but didn't love it.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me an ARC of this book.