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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

The All of It by Jeanette Haien

This 1986 title was given a second life by author Ann Patchett (The Dutch House, Bel Canto) who wrote a forward to the book in 2011, and recently recommended the book again on Instagram. It is a short Irish novella about a 62-year-old woman named Enda who tells the story of her and her brother's childhood abuse and escape, to the town priest, Father Declan. The 63-year-old priest goes fishing to mull over the perceived sins Enda and her brother have committed. But instead of recriminations and absolutions, Enda's forthright and guilt-free telling brings the priest to a closeness to and fondness for Enda:

"'We're that alike in our needs father.' The honor that she pays him with this compliment is palpable, his proof that they are genuinely connected."

Because it is short, I hesitate to give away more of the plot than that, but The All of It is one of those un-put-downable stories that engage you so deeply that you can hardly bring yourself to close the book. I loved the author's quintessentially Irish lyrical storytelling, the priest's musing over the nature of sin and evilness while fishing, and Enda's aplomb. Highly recommended!

"More than his humiliation, greater than his self-loathing, profounder than the scourge of remorse, had been the pain of the ceaseless image of himself as she must see him--as a weaseling priest on the cheap."

Paperback 145 pages (No Audiobook)


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