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

challenging emotional sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


This book was blurbed by Hilary Mantel, who called it “Powerful and affecting and very timely,” which is incredibly accurate. Short and spare, this is a story about the Magdalen laundries in Ireland, convent-run laundries where women and girls were incarcerated due to their “fallen” status. 

Bill Furlong is living a tight but comfortable life with his wife Eileen, their five daughters, and his coal yard. He’s a businessman with a content life and generous to all. He was born to a woman who gave birth as a teenager, with no known father, and instead of being cast out, his mother’s employer, Mrs. Wilson, kept his mother on and took care of Bill. 

Bill is busy preparing to Christmas, a busy season for him, when he brings a load of fuel to the Good Shepard nuns, who have a training school and a laundry at the convent. While there, he sees something which shakes him to his core - and that everyone in town seems to deny. 

Subtle but strong, this was a good story. 

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