All We Shall Know


Donal Ryan

First Sentence:     Martin Toppy is the son of a famous traveller and the father of my unborn child.

Back of the book:

Melody Shee is alone and in trouble. Her husband doesn’t take her news too well. She doesn’t want to tell her father yet because he’s a good man and this could break him. She’s trying to stay in the moment, but the future is looming – larger by the day – while the past won’t let her go. What she did to Breedie Flynn all those years ago still haunts her.
It’s a good thing that she meets Mary Crothery when she does. Mary is a young Traveller woman, and she knows more about Melody than she lets on. She might just save Melody’s life.
Donal Ryan’s new novel is breathtaking, vivid, moving and redemptive.

Quotes from the book:

But still he stayed with me, and I was terrified of losing him, and we insisted on marrying each other, and lowering ourselves onto a bed of terrible, scalding, comfortably familiar pain.

‘The story was there all along, in the wheeling stars, in its entirety , the parts already told and all the parts to come, Brailled in dots of light against the black.’

And I’m frightened now that I was such a show, and I’m frightened about what will be said, and I’m frightened about what will reach my father’s ears, and how his heart will speed and slow in worry and fear, and how he’ll want to help but won’t know how, so will stand at the window, and watch the weather, and wait.


This is my favourite Donal Ryan book so far. There’s a sentence early on in the book (page 18 in the copy I have) that begins  “I could still fly to London and end this […]”. This sentence contains more emotion, is more heartbreaking, and has more substance to it than entire books I have read in the past. It’s too long to reproduce here, but even just for that one sentence this book deserves to be read by anyone who appreciates quality writing. A very fine book indeed.

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Last Sentence:     And maybe they’ll find me here, and maybe I’ll be happy, and maybe my penance will be done.