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Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


In stark contrast to Keegan’s “Foster” I couldn’t connect as much with this novella, “Small Things Like These” by Claire Keegan. This may very well be because – as often – I went into this novella not knowing what it was about.

Once more we’re in Ireland in 1985 and we’re following Bill Furlong, our protagonist, around doing his deliveries, preparing for Christmas with his family, etc.. It felt slow and, sadly, not very interesting.

Only when he accidentally meets a desperate girl at the local convent do things get somewhat interesting. I sympathised with Furlong’s courage to help the girl at the end and finished the book somewhat disappointed.

The author’s note on the text first introduced me to the “Magdalene asylum” (read: child abuse) system (instituted, of course, by the Christian churches) that existed into the late 20th century.

Hundreds of girls and women died while being abused, forced to do hard labour and generally mistreated without payment.

And people seem to have known because Furlong is being warned not to get on the wrong side of the nuns…

Furlong’s uneasy feeling, his inability to share the truth about it even with his wife and his initial reluctance to help which he overcomes – probably at no small cost to himself, his wife and his girls – as a completely ordinary bloke somewhat reconciled me with this novella.

Still, for pure literary merit, I would have awarded two stars; having learned about yet another atrocity committed by the churches, the safe haven for paedophiles and other (child) abusers, I add another star.

Thus, three stars out of five.


Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam



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