“If you want to get on in life, there’s things you have to ignore, so you can keep on.”This story tells of a Catholic businessman who shows his moral integrity with an act of compassion that took great courage.
Bill Furlong is a forty year old man who owns a fuel company and works long hours to maintain his household of wife and five daughters. His is extraordinarily proud of his ‘girls’. and he loves them all dearly. They live in a small, predominately Catholic Irish town. The year is 1985 and it is the week before Christmas. Times are hard in this town and Bill has a difficult time collecting what he is owed. People still need to heat their homes, yet money is tight. Though far from affluent himself, Bill is a generous man with a strong sense of good and bad, right and wrong.
One day, while delivering coal to the local convent, he makes a discovery…“It seemed both proper and at the same time deeply unfair that so much of life was left to chance.”This was a beautifully written story with a protagonist who is both admirable and courageous.
The descriptions were wrought with empathy and finesse. I could feel the cold and fatigue Bill experienced during his long days delivering coal and firewood to his customers. Also, I could easily imagine his wife Eileen, and family of girls, baking for Christmas in their homely kitchen.
The story was riddled with Irish slang sayings such as “If you don’t mind out, you’ll meet yourself coming.”
It speaks to the everyday worries and thoughts of a regular working man as he though bone-tired, lies awake in his bed.
“Some nights, Furlong lay there with Eileen, going over small things like these.”
Given that the plot is set during the week before Christmas, it is an excellent read to remind us of just how privileged and well off we are. It particularly relays the message that doing the ‘right’ thing is not always easy.
After reading this novella, I am very eager to read some of this author’s longer fiction. This gem of a little book gets an easy five stars from me.This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from
Faber and Faber via NetGalley.
ISBN: 9780571368686 – 128 pages
Follow Claire Keegan on Twitter @CKeeganFiction