All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan

Four Stars

This is the first book I’ve read by Donal Ryan but it won’t be the last.  He has an economic way of writing which I like but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in substance.  The short, often staccato, sentences are potent and impacting.  This is a very Irish book with lots of words and phrases which could be a bit tedious for some but read in the right accent gives a full on ‘I am there, in Ireland’ feel to it.

All We Shall Know

The story centres around Melody and her failing marriage to Pat after revealing she is pregnant with another man’s child. Both Melody and Pat have unstable personalities, both fly of the handle, blame each other, fight at the drop of a hat.  Melody carries this anger through her pregnancy and has some raucous and sometimes amusing outbursts. Much of her time is spent at a traveller’s campsite with Mary, cousin of the baby’s father, and we experience a little of the traveller’s lifestyle.

The chapters are cleverly headed by the week numbers of Melody’s pregnancy and we can imagine her baby’s progress and size as the weeks move on. I was also very conscious of this being a male author writing of a very feminine time of a woman’s life – I think he did it expertly.  The ending was surprising and I did question whether a mother could actually do that.

Donal Ryan



Donal Ryan’s Amazon author profile






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