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The All of It Paperback – December 16, 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 145 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (December 16, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060971479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060971472
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,494,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Soaked by a miserable rain, Father Declan de Lowry swats midges and unsuccessfully casts for salmon while mulling the deathbed confession of a parishioner from the tiny Irish village of Roonatellin. The good priest is frantic to know why Kevin Dennehy refused to the end to marry Enda, who lived as his wife for decades with none suspecting their sin. When pressed, Kevin would only say, "there's some explanations that get you nowhere." That leaves it to Enda, an Irish Scheherazade, to breathlessly tell Father "the all of it," a wild, eyebrow-raising tale that meanders like sheep on the narrow roads. Her enthusiasm and Jeannette Haien's musical, evocative phrasing sweep this winning, humorous novel along.

From Library Journal

Within this brief, artfully woven novel are two stories. Kevin and Enda have escaped from their mad father and found refuge in a tiny Irish village, where they live as man and wife. Fifty years later, Kevin's death impels Enda to confess to Father Declan, a world-weary priest who finds his escape in salmon fishing. The moral commitment of the couple, and their devotion to freedom and the natural life, remain in the priest's mind as he struggles through the intricacies of netting a salmon. Haien, an American pianist, entirely captures both the essence of life in the rural west of Ireland and the many shadings of the conflict between official morality and the private compromises we must make to live out our lives. A compact, lyrical gem; one wishes it were longer. Highly recommended. Shelley Cox, Special Collections, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This small book kept me up so I might finish in one read.
KCH
Those who loved it describe it with such words as "touching", "lyrical" and "beautiful".
T. J. Mathews
Good story on what someone's perception can do to affect their ideas and feelings.
Pam Schaefer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 123 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
The readers who give this book five (and four) stars have the correct take. Indeed, counting the four other people I know personally who have read the book and delighted in it, the total rating for my entry should be 25 stars. The books I've read that come closest to this one in terms of capturing the psychological atmosphere of the protagonists are Ishiguro's "The Remains of the Day" and Bausch's "The Last Good Time," although otherwise they have little substantively in common. How a reader could stop after one third of the book and know that the ending was predictable is paradoxical, to say the least. Similarly, to complain that the ending is not lurid enough surely misses the mark. As for its alleged boringness, with what is it being compared -- a James Bond film? Instead, this is a movingly told tale, with exquisitely gentle language, and two characters whose ordinary and not-so-ordinary lives intersect in a moment of revelation that has its own truth simply because of the author's tenderness in handling the plot. This slender novel is an unusual, touching accomplishment that is not soon forgotten.
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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful By T. J. Mathews VINE VOICE on October 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's clear that those who commented on this book either absolutely loved it or absolutely hated it. Those who loved it describe it with such words as "touching", "lyrical" and "beautiful". Those who hate it say it is "boring" and "lacking in suspense".
This should tell you that whether or not you will like this book depends solely on what you like in books. I agree that there isn't much in the way of suspense. That's not the kind of book it is. Its purpose was more to touch the heart in the way great works of art do. In that, it succeeds. I read "The All of It" three years ago and my memory of it now is more in the emotions it engendered and not in the details of the story.
What are you in the mood for? Adventure? Look elsewhere. A look at what is inside people's hearts? You've come to the right place.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
While starting to read the book, I wasn't sure that it would do anything for me, in terms of touching me emotionally. After 6 hours, and having completed the book, all I can say is-"WOW! " The book was short but really to the point. Reading it transported me to Ireland into the room where Edna is telling Father Declan the story of her and her "husband". The psychological effect is really phenominal and it is truly artistic the way Jeannette Haien jumps from Father's conversations with Edna and his fishing trip. All the human emotion of the characters and their story has touched my heart and I hope that more people will read this book so that it can touch theirs.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book was recommended to me by a person whose views of literature I respect greatly. He gave me a great gift in introducing me to this powerful little book. I literally could not put it down. I was raised Irish and have visited Ireland many times. This story captures the beauty, tragedy, and intensity, as well as the sometimes breathtaking acceptance of love and pain which marks so many of the Irish. I will read this again and again.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Maugeri on March 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a treasure book...not to be loved by all, but by a few who love humanity. The tender mercies clearly detailed in this book will strike the souls of those who know they could falter along life's road. It is lyrical and simple...beautifully told. I read it several years ago and forgot the title. Tonight I ran into a friend in a bookstore who was looking for it and was delighted to have, at last, found the title again. This is a book to keep and return to when you are sure your sins will never be forgiven, and to learn,at the end of the day,that they will.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Some books can be so perfect as to leave you speechless. True simplicity may be so deep as not to be simple at all. You could sum up this little novella as little more than an old Irish priest fishing fruitlessly for salmon in a midge-infested drizzle, while meditating on the funeral he conducted the day before, and the unfinished deathbed confession completed by the dead man's wife, an 80-page story set in a 60-page frame. But that would not be the all of it at all. Reading this book involves a continual reassessment of what we expect from a story, and what constitutes the moral meaning of a life well-lived.

Kevin and Enda Dennehy have been living in their small coastal village in the West of Ireland for nearly half a century, the perfect picture of a married couple living a life of contented frugality. But Kevin tells Father Declan that he and Enda are not man and wife, then dies before he can explain the details. It is left to Enda to tell the priest "the all of it."

As she does, in a touching story of growing up in an isolated cottage with little education, abject poverty, and a drunken widowed father. The few surprises come early, though, and soon the tale is at an end: "That's the all of it, Father... The rest you know." But we are only on page 68 of a book more than twice that length. Father Declan urges Enda to go on and she does. It is a story of two people discovering a world beyond their narrow valley: "You know how mist shifts the land about, how what's there one minute isn't there the next and the way a valley'll be lost to you at the same time a mountain-top'll show itself and it not attached to the earth." A world in which a man can still make a living as a farrier and motor cars are a rarity.
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