Small Things Like These

by Claire Keegan
First sentence: “In October there were yellow trees.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There are two f-bombs. It’s in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.

Bill Furlong is a simple man. He’s the father of five daughters, and he delivers coal in his small Irish town. He doesn’t think terribly deep thoughts, but he is aware of his roots. His mother got pregnant when she was 16, and it was only the kindness of her employer, Mrs. Wilson, that allowed her to keep Bill and raise him. So, when Bill finds a girl at the convent locked in the coal shed, unable to feed her baby — the nuns had separated the two — Bill takes pity on her, even though he knows his wife, Elieen, won’t like it.

This is a slim novella, a slice of Irish life in the mid-1980s, and one that makes you think.It’s deeply Christian without being preachy: Furlong doesn’t seek to draw attention to himself, and he’s very kind and caring not just to his family but to the community as a whole.

It’s not life-shattering, but it is deeply moving. A good addition to our Christmas books, I think.

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