Melody Shee is a pregnant Irish woman who finds herself alone and adrift. Her husband Pat has left her after finding out she is pregnant with another man's child. What he doesn't know is that the other man is a teenager Traveller, part of an ethnic group known for their nomadic and volatile ways. Melody tries to find the boy but he has left the area and she instead meets his cousin Mary with whom she forms an intense relationship. What follows is a heart-breaking yet compassionate story of two brave but vulnerable women. Donal Ryan creates a dream-like world that is powerful and deeply engaging. This is simply a lovely book with beautiful, poetic writing.— Claire
A breathtaking and redemptive novel from the award-winning and Man Booker nominated author Donal Ryan
Melody Shee is alone and in trouble. At 33 years-old, she finds herself pregnant with the child of a 17 year-old Traveller boy, Martin Toppy, and not by her husband Pat. Melody was teaching Martin to read, but now he’s gone, and Pat leaves too, full of rage. She’s trying to stay in the moment, but the future is looming, while the past won’t let her go. It’s a good thing that she meets Mary Crothery when she does. Mary is a bold young Traveller woman, and she knows more about Melody than she lets on. She might just save Melody’s life.
Following the nine months of her pregnancy, All We Shall Know unfolds with emotional immediacy in Melody’s fierce, funny, and unforgettable voice, as she contends with her choices, past and present.
About the Author
Donal Ryan is the author of The Spinning Heart, The Thing About December, and A Slanting of the Sun, which have all been published to major acclaim. The Spinning Heart won the Guardian First Book Award, the EU Prize for Literature (Ireland), and Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize. Donal holds a Writing Fellowship at the University of Limerick. He lives with his wife Anne Marie and their two children just outside of Limerick.
"So fine is this novel, and so purely told, that it establishes Mr. Ryan as the heir apparent to the late, great Irish stylists John McGahern and William Trevor… There are countless passages… that are so sculpted and beautiful that one’s lips begin to shape their words unbidden, the way a song can move a crowd to its rhythm."—Wall Street Journal
"A dwarf star of a novel: small, dark, impressively dense... All We Shall Know makes a novel about the heaviness of existence into something that is even, and easy — and, at times, perfect, and right."—Boston Globe
"[A] haunting, beautifully written story.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“An extraordinary portrait of adultery, loneliness and betrayal . . . One of the finest writers working in Ireland today . . .in the great tradition of tragic fiction, his lonely adulteress coming to grief in the same shadowy spaces as Emma Bovary or Anna Karenina.”—John Burnside, Guardian
“[All We Shall Know] is a novel of self-sacrifice, penance, and circumscribed possibilities for happiness, narrated with great compassion and written with elegant lyricism. . . Emotionally intense, deeply engaging, and profound.”—Kirkus
“A lush and lively novel that fascinates from its opening words to its tender last lines.”—Publishers Weekly
"Rich in the cadence of both the rural Irish vernacular and the Traveller mash-up of English and the Cant. [All We Shall Know] captures the turbulence of marriage, love, sex, class and violence--while leaving room for the big Irish heart that lies behind so much great literature in English."—Shelf Awareness
“A joy to read, for all that it breaks your heart . . . builds on [Ryan’s] reputation for cramming generations of grief and disappointment into less than 200 pages of beautiful prose. . . . He has also created two female character – cussed and brave, vulnerable and cruel – who come together to repair the past and stitch together a possible future.”—Katy Guest, Independent
“Ryan’s language is poetic, powerful and heart-rending – this short novel has a beautiful economy and control.”—The Times (UK)
"Stunning." —The Bookseller (London)
“All We Shall Know is a new and ambitious departure . . . exerts a powerful grip. . . . the novel, written at white heat in sentences that sometimes flow for a full paragraph, reads compulsively and is delivered with an impressively disciplined power. Ryan’s rise to prominence may have been meteoric and his output dizzyingly prolific, but he is a writer who is very far from being a flash in the pan.”—Roy Foster, The Irish Times
“A consummate artist . . . The denouement offers a satisfying element of redemption . . . a great writer whose steady maturation proceeds apace.”—The Sunday Times
“Raw, radiant prose . . . [a] wonderful novel.”—Sunday Express
“ [A] gem of a novel. With a sure sense of place, and a convincing portrayal of life lived at the edgy margins, it vividly plots the landscape of the heart en route to a gripping and ultimately redemptive finale.”—Daily Mail