Title: Small Things Like These
Author: Claire Keegan
Publisher: Faber & Faber Ltd
Genre: Literary Fiction
What a graceful, small novel is this! It is also full of profundity, wisdom, ideas that are constantly at war with each other, and sparse, yet telling what it must in the most succinct manner.
Small Things Like These is set in 1985 in a small Irish town, during Christmas time. It is the story of a man named Bill Furlong and his place in the world. A man who seems content with his life – his wife and five daughters, doing what he does (running a coal and timber business), and yet something is bothering him. His past doesn’t let go – his identity is being questioned by him at every step, and all he knows is that he is a man caught – between the ways of the world, and what he wants to do.
Claire Keegan brings up so much in this small book. So many issues – religion, motherhood, parenthood, of what it’s like to have children and then to worry about them, of a small town and its inhabitants – the way they live, and survive, and hope for more.
The tone of the book is simple – and covering each layer as we go along. The writing is sparse, says what it must – Keegan’s writing is both contemplative and a statement to how it is not only perhaps in a small town but also maybe universally.
The concept of being human is brought out beautifully in this small novel. Of what makes us – our honest, true selves, with all our hypocrisy, our hesitation, and most importantly about wanting to fit in at large with the people around us, often thereby overlooking who we really are.
Through Bill we are introduced to our own incapacities are humans, our own weaknesses, and our own shortcomings. Keegan made me see myself so closely – though the situation is far from similar, and yet seemed so personal on other levels.
Small Things Like These is a novel that is essential reading. Like I said, it says so much and makes you think and feel so much about the way we live, and how we grow to be who we are.
Books and Authors mentioned in Small Things Like These:
- Enid Blyton
- A Christmas Carol
- Five Go Down to the Sea
- Five Run Away Together
- Walter Macken
- David Copperfield