At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual - though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.
Newcomer Griffin's storytelling, while economical, is rich and evocative, and her deft pacing maintains suspense across several narrative arcs spanning multiple time lines. Her gift for characterization is so powerful that a commemorative coin becomes one of the book's most compelling characters. Most impressive, of course, is her creation of Maurice. His voice is credible, his story absorbing, and his humanity painfully familiar ... Highly recommended; this unforgettable first novel introduces Griffin as a writer to watch.
The ghosts of William Trevor and Elizabeth Bowen hover over the meticulous, articulate prose, iterated in an almost standard Trevor-land locus of comfortable country hotel ... There is also a whiff of Wuthering Heights in the novel, peopled as it is with larger-than-life dark characters with a propensity for emotional and physical violence ... The history of neighbours and family embroiled in a web of guilt and envy, misunderstandings and lies, has an interestingly timeless feel to it, as if the author is letting us know that the trappings of life don’t really change very much that is elemental in human nature ... While there is limited description, a sense of place permeates the work ... The most impressive aspects of this first novel from the pen of prize-winning short-story writer Anne Griffin are its rich, flowing prose, its convincing voice, and its imaginative and clever structure. She has complete mastery of her quite complex plot, and manages to imbue her sizeable cast of diverse characters with life and energy.
As a novel whose central themes are grief, separation and mental illness it would be very easy for the writing to become bogged down in self-pity. Yet Maurice Hannigan emerges as an engaging, compassionate creation who seems fully aware that he conforms to a stereotype ... There is a pleasing clarity to Griffin’s five-act structure, in which the successive libations give rise to five fully realised individual works of fiction.