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


This novella is an incredibly powerful exploration of the horrifying truth of the Magdalene Laundries of Ireland. Set in a small Irish town in the 1980s, we are given the perspective of Bill Furlong, and the story revolves around not only his moral dilemma regarding the Laundry, but also his feelings towards his family, his upbringing and the townspeople.

This story felt so real, and the simple prose made it no less captivating. It examines the themes of morality, family, and religion beautifully. The sense of how powerful the church is within this small community is painfully evident, even though it is barely ever noted explicitly, and I think this demonstrates a strength of Keegan’s writing: she communicates so much by saying so little. I thought that centring the story on Bill as opposed to the Laundry allowed an exploration of the perspective of bystanders, a key factor in how the Laundries were allowed to continue for such a horrifically long time.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for letting me read an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.