Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The All of It by Jeannette Haien

The All of It
by Jeanette Haien
HarperCollins e-book, 2009 reprint
145 pages
source: purchased

Summary (from goodreads):
A sleeper hit when first published in 1986, Jeannette Haien's exquisite, beloved first novel is a deceptively simple story that has the power and resonance of myth. The story begins on a rainy morning as Father Declan de Loughry stands fishing in an Irish salmon stream, pondering the recent deathbed confession of one of his parishioners. Kevin Dennehy and his wife, Enda, have been sweetly living a lie for some 50 years, a lie the full extent of which Father Declan learns only when Enda finally confides "the all of it." Her tale of suffering mesmerizes the priest, who recognizes that it is also a tale of sin and scandal, a transgression he cannot ignore. The resolution of his dilemma is a triumph of strength and empathy that, as Benedict Kiely has said, makes The All of It "a book to remember".

My thoughts:

This book appealed to me for three reasons:
1.  It was recommended by Ann Patchett, who also wrote an introduction to the latest edition.
2.  The cover is gorgeous.
3.  It was offered as a kindle daily deal for only $1.99.

Upon finishing, I thought:
1.  I'll take a recommendation from Ann Patchett any day.
2.  Reading on a kindle paperwhite does not allow you to fully appreciated  beautiful covers.
3.  I certainly got my money's worth.

Not much happens in this quiet little novel set in the Irish countryside. Aside from a bit of salmon fishing, the bulk of the action consists of a newly widowed woman telling her story, "the all of it",  to the parish priest after her husband died before finishing his final confession. Her story, in turn, creates a moral dilemma for the priest.

Haien's writing, a little wordy and with lots of punctuation (beware if you don't like that kind of thing), was another highlight of my reading experience.

I was disappointed to learn I had actually purchased the older 1986 edition, without Ann Patchett's introduction. The fact that neither Barnes &Noble nor my local library had a copy of the newer edition only compounded my disappointment. Unfortunately, I have yet to read Ann Patchett's introduction.

A couple of quotes:
Discordantly - out of the mists - he heard her voice: "Dead faces," she said whitely, "they're all the same. They don't, I mean, tell of the person as they were alive." 
"One thing I've learned, Father - that in this life it's best to keep the then and now and the what's-to-be as close together in your thoughts as you can. It's when you let the gaps creep in, when you separate out the intervals and dwell on them, that you can't bear the sorrow."
My rating:


  1. Replies
    1. Kathy - It was quiet, but very good!

  2. I'm intrigued! This does sound interesting in a quiet way. I do agree about the downside of Kindles. I bought The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor and my main regret is that I don't get to look at the cover. I'm going to have to check my library for this one though. I probably should also read some Ann Patchett. Somehow I've missed her!

    1. Katherine - I love my paperwhite, but covers are the one downside. I've loved all of Ann Patchett's books - don't think you can go wrong no matter where you start!

  3. Too bad about the introduction. It's getting difficult to figure out what exactly you are buying on Amazon these days. The covers sometimes don't match the ISBN # and it throws me off when I receive a book that I wasn't expecting to get. And someone mentioned the other day typos in Kindle books and I have never had that problem, until just yesterday.

    This book though... what a moral dilemma.

    1. Ti - This is the first time I've had a problem like that with a kindle book...maybe I should have paid closer attention. The only time typos have been a problem is with arcs from NetGalley... one was so bad, I had to stop reading!

  4. I love that cover! Bummer on getting the introduction, but still sounds like a great read.

    1. Beth F - This is a short read that gives you plenty to think about!

  5. I love Irish settings! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and what a great Kindle deal!

    1. Diana - Those kindle daily deals get me every time ;-)

  6. Yep, I'd have to try anything that Ann Patchett recommended, too.

    1. Lisa - I'd love to visit Patchett's bookstore one day!

  7. Replies
    1. Melinda - It was one of my favorites, too. So glad to discover this little book.

  8. I swear I commented on this a couple weeks ago but I don't see it now! I just wanted to say I photocopied the Ann Patchett introduction out of my edition to send to you if you want it! Just email me your address at avidreader25 [at] and I'll send it your way!

    1. Melissa - Thank you!! I still want to read that intro... will email you now.


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