‘A young woman can hear the dead – a talent which is both a gift and a curse’
– Listening Still
[ About The Book ]
Jeanie Masterson has a gift: she can hear the recently dead and give voice to their final wishes and revelations. Inherited from her father, this gift has enabled the family undertakers to flourish in their small Irish town. Yet she has always been uneasy about censoring some of the dead’s last messages to the living. Unsure, too, about the choice she made when she left school seventeen years ago: to stay or leave for a new life in London with her charismatic teenage sweetheart.
So when Jeanie’s parents unexpectedly announce their plan to retire, she is jolted out of her limbo. In this captivating successor to her bestselling debut, Anne Griffin portrays a young woman who is torn between duty, a comfortable marriage and a role she both loves and hates and her last chance to break free, unaware she has not been alone in softening the truth for a long while.
[ My Review ]
Listening Still by Anne Griffin will be published April 29th with Sceptre Books and I am very, yes VERY excited to be joining the blog tour today with my review of this wonderful book that will take every reader on a very special and emotional journey. Anne Griffin’s name came very much to prominence following the publication of her stunning debut When All is Said, a book that John Boyne described as ‘an extraordinary novel, a poetic writer, and a story that moved me to tears.’ You can read my full review HERE of When All is Said, a truly beautiful and reflective tale, a story of life, loss, love and regret.
Listening Still is a novel about self-discovery and learning about what is really important in life. Jeanie Masterson, a young woman who works in the family undertaking business, has a very special gift. She has the ability to hear the last messages of the dead. Jeanie has always had mixed emotions about having this gift. In school she was nicknamed Morticia, among many other names. She was always at the butt end of a joke. But she did have a very close group of friends, people that she could trust, knowing that they always had her back. As teens they hung out together, confiding in each other and generally having fun. Romance came and went over the years, with Jeanie eventually marrying Niall, one of the gang.
Niall was fascinated by the family business and, following training in embalming, he became a very important member of the team. Jeanie worked alongside her Dad carrying messages from the dead to the living. Her Dad, and his sister Harry, had inherited the business from their father, Jeanie’s grandfather, and now it was being left to Jeanie and Niall. Her mum and dad were retiring, moving with her brother to West Cork. They felt the time was right. Jeanie was ready. But they were wrong.
Jeanie had always stayed at home, never going to college, never working in another town, not to mind another country. Her life had been mapped out for her from a young age and now, with her parents moving on, and away, Jeanie is stricken. Is this really the life she wanted? Is this really the path she would have chosen had she felt no pressure from others?
Anne Griffin has a talent for bringing her characters to life (no pun intended) with writing that just sings off the pages. The small town life in the Irish midlands is so vividly described with the locals all very much the heart and soul of the community. There are undertakers in every corner of Ireland. In many cases the undertaker could be the local publican or shop owner. The undertaker knows everyone and is a very trusted member of local daily life. Jeanie always loved being part of this jigsaw but now she is questioning her place. Her brother, Mickey, is autistic and lives life at his own pace, one that Jeanie has learnt to accept and adapt to. All her life has been to accept and adapt. Over the years her friends had encouraged her to spread her wings but the weight of responsibility always remained with Jeanie. Until now…
Without saying too much I just have to mention the very unexpected appearance of one character that caught me completely off guard. I had an emotional moment but it was just perfect. Beautifully captured by Anne Griffin and one that, if you know, will be a very touching surprise.
Listening Still is a novel that Graham Norton described as ‘a wonderfully unexpected tale of love, death and everything in between’ and is one that I put down with a contented sigh. Many of us, unfortunately, will have the experience of losing a loved one. Can you imagine for one minute if there was a way that you could have one last message from beyond, just to comfort you, to know that they are ok?
A beautiful premise, Anne Griffin, has again written characters that have captured my heart. Listening Still will impact every reader differently. It is an affecting, contemplative tale about finding one’s true path in life, about accepting yourself for who you really are and about taking control of your own destiny. A charismatic read with just the right amount of poignancy that will play with your heartstrings Listening Still will leave you contemplating life and death and all the complexities in between.
[ Bio ]
Anne Griffin’s first novel When All is Said was a Number One Irishbestseller in 2019 and chosen as the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year in the An Post Irish Book Awards. It was also shortlisted for the John McGahern Annual Book and the RSL Christopher Bland prizes. She lives in Co. Westmeath, Ireland.
Twitter – @AnneGriffin_