Small Things Like These
Looking for a little gem of a book? Bingo! Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan is short – a mere 114 pages, really a novella – but packed with such goodness that I’m left thinking more about this little book than about many of the full-length novels I’ve read of late.
Set in a small Irish town in 1985, it gives voice to Bill Furlong, a hard-working coal and timber merchant. Born out of wedlock to a teenage mother, he has built his way up in the world thanks to determination, a sterling work ethic, and the beneficence of a few compassionate souls. He now has a wonderful wife and five bright daughters, and has come to be respected by all he serves.
One day, though, while making a delivery to the local convent, he sees something he surely wasn’t meant to see – and it haunts him. For the first time in a while, he looks at his own life, at what helped him succeed, and how much of that he is willing to risk.
Small Things like These is a morality tale that is short and sweet and elegant. The author describes both setting and characters in a crisp, focused way. With a writing style as spare as this, every word counts. In that, this gem is lavish.
Actually, the title fits not only elements of the plot but the whole book itself. Slender as it is, it sparkles.