A review by james1star
Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan

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


I’m slightly torn on how to rate this short novella-esque book. I think this will only be a short review. We follow Billy Furlong in a small 1980s town during a period economic hardships. It’s set in the run-up to Christmas which is a busy time for Billy as he delivers coal to many people. Whilst delivering to a convent, he finds evidence of some girls being overworked and neglected - this makes him think and especially thinks back to his own upbringing and how he was born out of wedlock but his mother’s landlady/boss kept her on and acted as a relative to Billy when his mum died young. He has a wife and five daughters and is overall a nice character, treats his own workers well and is well perceived by everyone in the town. There is more to the plot but I don’t want to spoil anything. The characters are okay, Billy is very lovable and is shown to be quite developed but due to its shortness, less can be said for the other characters. The writing is good, easy to understand and I did really like the Irish-specific references - some terms/phrases I did need to look up but I appreciated the new knowledge. It only touches on the impact of Magdalen laundries (which is expanded on in the notes at the end) and how they worked by taking in young, unmarried mothers and the mistreatment of the girls and babies in their care. Also the influence of the church in Ireland, it’s people and other organisations is discussed but both in not as much detail or expansion as maybe necessary. So Yhh I dunno, it was good and I did enjoy it but I think I’d of preferred it had it been a bit longer.

I did like the idea of focusing on the small things too which was nice but again… please can I have some more? 

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