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Small Things Like These

por Claire Keegan

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1,8681268,971 (4.22)346
"It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church. Already a bestseller in France and certain to be read worldwide for generations to come, Small Things Like These is a deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy from one of our most critically lauded and iconic writers"--… (mais)
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» Ver também 346 menções

Inglês (117)  Holandês (2)  Finlandês (1)  Alemão (1)  Italiano (1)  Catalão (1)  Francês (1)  Todas as línguas (124)
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One could argue endlessly whether this is a novel, novella, or very long short story (such as The Dead) but I suppose it hardly matters -- a man, Bill Furlong, himself born to an unwed mother in a time when it really was a problem, had the good fortune that his mother's employer, a Protestant and a widow living just outside the small town on a small farm, did not send her off, but kept her and raised the boy responsibly, not as her own, but in a kindly way. He has made a success of his life running a coal business, but he has four daughters and times are hard; people need coal but often cannot keep up with their bills and he rarely cuts a person off entirely. On a snowy winter's day, just before Christmas he is making a delivery to the convent, which looms over the town in every way, spiritually and politically. Everyone (who pays attention) knows that the convent takes in girls 'in trouble', but no one has any idea what goes on inside. Everyone knows they do laundry, but again, no one knows the circumstances. Once their time there is finished, the girls are sent far away, no one actually witnesses anything, and nothing concrete is known but to a few (say a local doctor and such). No one says anything, out of fear of the power of the church. On this day Furlong discovers a young girl, barely clothed, hiding in the shed where he delivers the coal. Or is she hiding? Has she been put there?
He must struggle with his conscience. I could cite various short stories Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" -- that being a story all about what isn't being said -- and "The Dead" with its careful and exact prose as the narrator attempts to remain in control of his emotions only revealing the depth of his feelings through what he does and what he notices (what Keegan has him notice, of course). It is a meticulously crafted story as well as moving as Furlong comes to a decision about whether to act or not. The external consequences will be severe if he does act, but the price internally will be equally devastating. I'm currently also reading We Don't Know Ourselves -- a 'personal' history of modern Ireland and the two resonate. ****1/2 ( )
  sibylline | Apr 12, 2024 |
I listened to this in audiobook format.

This novella is based on the true story of the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland. However it doesn't focus on that institution but the inner life of a local family man. He has a run in at the laundry that deeply affects him. He starts to see the hypocrisy of his good Catholic village everywhere, especially with Christmas approaching (nods to Dicken's A Christmas Carol are evident). The authors judgement is searing.
  technodiabla | Apr 11, 2024 |
A beautiful book about what it means to be human...doing the right thing, even when that is more difficult than just looking the other way. It is short and bittersweet, and the ending is perfect. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
Superb. Quietly stunning. ( )
  rocketshackgirl | Mar 13, 2024 |
I feel like I should have loved this more than I did. Still a short read I would recommend. Not something I would ever read twice just because nothing stayed with me after reading it. Written well and will hold you throughout the story. If read at the right time and by the right person, could be gripping, sad and thought provoking all at the same time. I think I just wanted more than this novella gave and that is at no fault of the author or story. ( )
  mybookloveobsession | Mar 12, 2024 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Claire Keeganautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Kelly, AidanNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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'The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.'

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This story is dedicated to the women and children who suffered time in Ireland's mother and baby homes and Magdalen laundries.

And for Mary McCay, teacher.
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As they carried on along and met more people Furlong did and did not know, he found himself asking was there any point in being alive without helping one another? Was it possible to carry on along through all the years, the decades, through an entire life, without once being brave enough to go up against what was there and yet call yourself a Christian, and face yourself in the mirror?
Always it was the same, Furlong thought; always they carried mechanically on without pauses, to the next job at hand.What would life be like, he wondered, if they were given time to think and reflect on things? (18%)
What most tormented him was not so much how she'd been left in the coal shed or the stance of the Mother Superior; the worst was how the girl had been handled while he was present and how he'd allowed that and had not asked about her baby -- the one thing she had asked him to do -- and how he had taken the money and left her there at the table with nothing before her and the breast milk leaking under the little cardigan and staining her blouse, and how he'd gone on, like a hypocrite, to Mass. (77%)
Why were the things that were closest so often the hardest to see? (87%)
Already he could feel a world of trouble waiting for him behind the next door, but the worst that could have happened was also already behind him; the thing not done, which could have been -- which he would have had to live with for the rest of his life. (95%)
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"It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church. Already a bestseller in France and certain to be read worldwide for generations to come, Small Things Like These is a deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy from one of our most critically lauded and iconic writers"--

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