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This is Happiness Reviews

This is Happiness by Niall Williams

This Is Happiness

Niall Williams

4.25 out of 5

5 reviews

Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date: 5 Sep 2019
ISBN: 9781526609335
4 stars out of 5
15 Oct 2019

"The novel’s revolving parts harmoniously orbit each other to produce an exquisite, nuanced whole."

The novel’s revolving parts harmoniously orbit each other to produce an exquisite, nuanced whole. One day, while Noe is helping Christy to erect the pylons, he collapses under the weight of a pole, “the pain so extravagant it produced in me a laugh”, and is knocked unconscious. Shortly after, Noe describes finding his mother on the kitchen floor after one of the many “falls” she suffered before her death. When his father tries to articulate what is happening to his wife, all he can manage is, “It’s like she’s been struck … by electricity”. In a single line of dialogue, Williams brings about the collision of his story’s elements.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
19 Sep 2019

"Rich in sentiment and humour, this evocation of an Irish village in the 1970s examines grief, faith and first love"

The pleasure of this novel lies in its eye for detail. The plot, having been established, then takes a long time to do not very much more. What happens instead is a kind of tectonic movement from spring into summer, marked by the rhythms of village life. Williams is excellent on churchgoing, amateur dramatics, parking, the cinema. He lavishes close attention on his parishioners, and finds rich material there. He has a humorist’s eye, and his own fond amusement at the people he writes about shines out through the writing.

The fields of Ireland are very crowded, but by the conclusion of This Is Happiness, you feel Williams has justified adding another book to the herd.

4 stars out of 5
Sean Hewitt
12 Sep 2019

"Niall Williams’s novel delivers us back into a world with fewer problems than modern age"

Despite its saccharine title, which overdoes the novel’s sunny disposition, this is a worthy read. In the voices of Faha, an older Ireland is brought to life. This is likely to be a popular summer read, transporting us to a world with fewer problems than our own. It has the ease of listening to an elder tell a family legend or a piece of local gossip. As Noel tells us, “when you get to a grandfather’s age, life takes on the quality of comedy, with aches”.

5 stars out of 5
6 Sep 2019

"This is not a book to read for fast-moving developments. It is one to savour, slowly"

Charming is one word for Williams’ prose. It is also life-affirming and written with a turn of phrase that makes the reader want to underline something on every page. I suggest we all buy his books, pushing him into that realm of globally fashionable Irish writers (which he might not care about), but more importantly, sharing with a vast audience his humane and poetic world view... This is not a book to read for fast-moving developments. It is one to savour, slowly, like the way of life it enshrines. The supporting cast is huge, eccentric, frequently funny.

4 stars out of 5
Claire Allfree
29 Aug 2019

"Williams has the eye of a poet and the raconteur’s knack for finding a tale in the most unpromising nook of everyday life"

Williams has the eye of a poet and the raconteur’s knack for finding a tale in the most unpromising nook of everyday life, as a now-adult Noel, summoning the Faha of his nostalgic imagination, narrates an elegiac novel that’s careful always to offset the antic rural eccentricity with darker notes of loss.