Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

This novel is set in a small town in Ireland and follows the thoughts of Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant who is married with five daughters. He works hard but life is still a struggle and it seems to him that he is existing rather than living.

The essence of Bill Furlong is that he’s a good person, good in an unobtrusive way, in an elusive way, giving his loose change to people in need of a few pennies and providing them with some logs for the fire at Christmas. He does these deeds without a thought and without expecting something in return, it’s natural to him.

One day he delivers some coal to the local convent and without a nun to meet him, he goes looking for one and finds a young teenager locked in a coal shed. Everyone claims she’s the victim of a prank but Bill understands what’s going on when she asks him to take her to the river and that she’d like to see her baby.

The convent is a Magdalen laundry and the thought of the girl in the coal shed doesn’t leave Bill and at Christmas Eve he decides he has to do something to help her.

This is a superb book without the use of any flowery, descriptive language, there’s no waste of words and no hint that the author is pleased with themselves.

The last Magdalen laundry closed in Ireland in 1996 and it’s shocking to think that almost everyone knew what was going on but no one really tried to do anything about them as the laundries were really a collusion between The State and the Roman Catholic Church.

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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