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All We Shall Know

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  3,164 ratings  ·  439 reviews
‘Martin Toppy is the son of a famous Traveller and the father of my unborn child. He’s seventeen, I'm thirty-three. I was his teacher. I’d have killed myself by now if I was brave enough. I don’t think it would hurt the baby. His little heart would stop with mine. He wouldn't feel himself leaving one world of darkness for another, his spirit untangling itself from me.’

Hardcover, 192 pages
Published September 15th 2016 by Doubleday
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Elizabeth Theoretically there was no potential in the relationship. She didnt know how to get out of her marriage. She shocked her husband out of it. While not …moreTheoretically there was no potential in the relationship. She didnt know how to get out of her marriage. She shocked her husband out of it. While not her original intention, set off a series of impactful events that she did harness into her own outcome.(less)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,164 ratings  ·  439 reviews

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Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
A new favourite. The best thing you can write at the beginning of a review.

I'd never heard of this book upon picking it up at a bookstore, but after reading that it was about a woman who had become pregnant from a man that wasn't her husband (scandal!) and then reading the first few pages to hear that she was in an abusive relationship and things were not as simple as they appeared, I was in. The plot was fantastic - from the first few pages that made me sit down in the bookshop and eventually
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2018
This is Donal Ryan's third novel, and like The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December it is very impressive, in fact it may be his best yet. The Irish literary world is not short of young talent.

I was quite tempted to review it just by quoting one of the blurb review quotes, from Carlo Gebler: "[All That We Know ...] does what novels ought. It shows us people we would rather not know and by doing so helps us to be slightly kinder. The prose is also exquisite."

Ryan's characters, though not a
Roger Brunyate
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland, women
Oh, What Writing!
I could still fly to London and end this, and come back and say, Yes, Pat, I was lying, and he could persuade himself to believe me, and we could take a weekend break somewhere and be massaged together, and walk along a river hand in hand, and stand beneath a waterfall and feel the spray on our faces and laugh, and think about the cave behind the falling water, cut off from the world, and all the roaring peace to be found there, and have a drink in the bar after dinner, and
Melody Shee is tutoring a seventeen-year-old Traveller boy when she becomes pregnant with his child; she is nearly twice his age. Her husband Pat isn't too keen on this development, so he moves out. She is befriended by another Traveller, this one a young woman named Mary, who becomes a strange sounding board for Melody throughout her pregnancy. But the Travellers have their own traditions, and their own forms of justice. And, Melody might end up caught in the middle of a dangerous feud.

The auth
Diane S ☔
I am twenty percent in and to be honest that though is well written there is nothing I have read that entices me to read more. Disappointed because I have loved the other two novels by this author that I have read. Keep in mind, many have loved this book so it may just be my mood. Going to leave this unrated as I don't feel I have read enough to fairly judge.
Helene Jeppesen
Jan 14, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is very short and also very intense. I was expecting to love it, but the intensity of the writing as well as the ending has left me conflicted. I'm not sure that I buy into how everything turned out, but I do appreciated how this novel got me thinking.
Basically, it's amazing how Donal Ryan manages to convey so many feelings and so many happenings over the span of 180 pages. We are inside the main character's head and sometimes that leads to stream-of-consciousness writing. I occasiona
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, ireland
This is the 3rd Donal Ryan book I've read, and it pretty much falls in line with how I felt about the other two: it's short, emotional and beautifully written, but didn't necessarily leave the biggest impression on me. I appreciate that he has something to say about life, love and redemption. And most of his books seem to focus strongly on not just relationships between people, but how they break and heal and how we move on from difficult circumstances. It took me a bit to get invested into this ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is sheer beauty in this new novel by Donal Ryan, with prose so breathtaking and finely crafted that it brought me to my knees. For that reason alone, the book will soar toward the top of my personal Best of 2017 list.

But the themes and content are also masterly and at the end of the day, this book is about a morally redemptive journey – a delivery, of sorts, from guilt and shame to selflessness, grace and self-forgiveness.

Melody Shee is pregnant and untethered, carrying the child of a 17-y
Amal Bedhyefi
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sensational , short and beautifully written.
Ugh , It's been a while since I've read anything this captivating.
The writing style is so lyrical that it reads like poetry and evoques such beautiful feelings .
I was amazed , surprised , worried , shocked , sympathetic ... I was on a constant emotional roller coaster and I devoured this book in one setting!
But that ending though , why ? I just don't get it !
Looking forward to read his new book !
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland, fiction, 2018
Miserable, intense and truly stunning. I adored this. The way guilt eats away at your insides forever; the way a marriage turns in on itself and poisons everything; the way we destroy the ones we love the most; the way we become consumed by another person and endlessly haunted…inevitable destruction and agony. Gorgeous writing. The dark, strange atmosphere has stayed with me.

That it’s come to this, love. It’s come to this and now there’s no going back, ever, and aren’t we better off? I made it c
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rachel by: Callum McLaughlin
This book was stunning.

I'm struggling to give a brief summary of the plot, because although it's a relatively simple story, everything I write feels reductive of the emotional journey that Donal Ryan takes the reader on, and the larger themes that he explores in his narrative. The bare bones of the novel are this: 33-year-old, married Melody Shee finds herself pregnant by a 17-year-old boy who she was teaching to read. But it's not really a book about marriage and affairs. At the heart of this
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story! Beautiful writing! With an amazing end! Melody is a very likeable and believable protagonist. Insightful in the world of Travellers.
Peter Boyle
Jul 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
Melody Shee is pregnant and her husband Pat is not the father. The unborn child is the result of a tryst with Martin Toppy, a teenage Traveller. Shocked and enraged by the news, Pat leaves her. Alone with her thoughts, Melody feels terrified and ashamed. She's afraid to tell her elderly father in case the news breaks him. But then she meets a young Traveller woman named Mary Crothery and they hit it off. This unlikely friendship might just be the way out the dark hole Melody has found herself in ...more
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded up.

As in Ryan's two Booker nominated novels, the prose here is absolutely gorgeous, and though the story he tells is rather bleak, the end feeling is one of total satisfaction. Ryan also does an incredible job in narrating the story through the protagonist, Melody Shee, a pregnant 30-something Irish woman, a feat of alchemy that is spot-on in all respects. The half star taken off is for the fact that, unlike his other books, I felt this dragged a bit in spots, and took me far longer
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very,very good!
I'vd become a big fan of this writer.
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a cracking good book. I loved the characters so magnificently drawn and realised by this author. He has an exceptional gift for making me love and hate them in equal measure.
The writing is lyrical, poetic whilst being truthful and brutal but so very human.
All of the people in this book are damaged in one way or another and it could be perceived as dark and depressing but I think it's more about hope.
On top of all this the story for the most part is told brilliantly from the perspective
Melody Shea is 33, and pregnant but not by her husband Pat. The Guardian review referred to Melody as a repulsive protagonist. I found Melody compelling and her husband unworthy of her affection. I'm glad I didn't read the review before reading the book. Ryan examines the Traveller community in Ireland as Melody is involved with one, then another young traveller as she works to teach them to read. The novel examines her life from her teenage years to the present. If Melody is to be despised it ...more
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars
Holy Mother! This was blistering. Couldn’t put it down.
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Donal Ryan writes beautiful sentences, and I was amazed that a man could write the internal monologue of a woman so convincingly. Even though Melody's stream of consciousness is not always a comfortable place to be, the voice felt authentic even when it was disturbing.

Few people in a bad relationship see themselves or their actions clearly, but Melody recognized her faults even if she made no effort to correct or change them. " I'd sit and think and my mind would light on something or other he'
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Melody and Pat Shee are married. Melody is pregnant - but Pat is not the father.

So begins a tale of a strained marriage, secrets, lies, shame - this story follows Melody through her pregnancy and looks at her relationship with the travelling community.

As with all Donal Ryan books I think you're better off going in blind so I never like to say too much - just if you're into solid, clever writing about rural communities, contemporary Ireland and human emotion, this writer should be your first st
Acordul Fin
I enjoyed it, it was a bit too lyrical for my taste, but the author is really good at packing so much emotion in such a short book.

The main character was not what we'd call likable, she was considerably troubled and her perspective was quite hopeless, but I didn't dislike being in her head. I even felt sympathy for her. And for her husband. And for Mary. And especially for her father. The ending was a little convoluted and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.
Claire Fuller
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Each chapter is a week in the pregnancy of Melody Shee, an Irish woman of 33 who is carrying the child of a 17 year old traveller. Melody befriends another traveller, Mary, who has been exiled from her family for failing to conceive. I loved the characters in this short novel, Melody's dreamy musings, her lovely father, Mary and her troubles, and how Ryan took us backwards into Melody's and her husband's angry relationship, cleverly drip feeding us information about them both that kept me switch ...more
Eric Anderson
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Donal Ryan's writing has an elegance and depth of feeling which is so rare. I was incredibly moved reading his novel “The Thing About December” and his short story collection “A Slanting of the Sun.” But his new novel “All We Shall Know” actually had me crying in some scenes – and that happens very rarely when I'm reading. It's also not often I'll turn the last page of a novel and say 'Wow!' Not only does Ryan completely draw the reader into the narrator Melody's dilemma (a thirty-three year old ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Melody is pregnant and has told her husband he is not the father. This raw, viceral novella follows the weeks of her pregnancy, her interactions with the judgemental community around her, with the exception of her father, his acceptance and her feeling of how she has disappointed him, keeping her away from the one person who might provide her solace.

Instead she begins to spend time with a Traveller girl Mary, who has her own set of circumstances that are causing her to suffer, circumstances that
Sep 16, 2016 rated it liked it
All We Shall Know is another title which I requested from Netgalley, from an author I’ve heard a little about but have never read. I tend not to read much Irish fiction, especially that which is encompassed by the broad title ‘contemporary’, but the premise intrigued me, and I thought I’d give it a go. I started it just by chance to see what it was like, and found it immediately engrossing. The whole is gritty, and the prose is startling at times. The narrative voice was realistic in a refreshin ...more
Mary Lou
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Melody Shee is a difficult one to get to know. Seemingly full of anger and not a bit slow to argue back when she’s attacked. But as her story becomes clearer, sure it’s not a bit of wonder.

This novel, as we have come to expect from Donal Ryan,is a pure work of art, the beauty of which is put at risk by any review. The characters are mad and sad; Melody and her father, her husband and her mother- in- law and father- in- law and the striking Mary, from the traveller community. The language is exqu
Margaret Madden
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jesus, Mary and Holy St. Joseph! This is astonishing
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, irish, irish-author
I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

All We Shall Know is based around 33-year-old Melody who has just discovered she is pregnant with her 17-year-old student Martin Toppy's baby. Melody now needs to figure out what she’s going to do, while dealing with the opinions of the entire small Irish town she lives in and ingratiating herself in the traveller community Martin is from.

This is pretty interesting. Donal Ryan is masterful
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed Donal Ryan’s first two novels which seemed to show an original and powerful talent. This one, however, simply doesn’t have the magic of those earlier books. It’s almost as though he just wasn’t inspired in quite the same way – perhaps his publishers were putting pressure on him to produce another? This latest offering definitely doesn’t have the heart and soul of The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December and I was disappointed. It’s the story of Melody who seduces a 17 yea ...more
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-vine
This is the first book I've read by Donal Ryan but it won't be the last. He has an economic way of writing which I like but that doesn't mean it's lacking in substance. The short, often staccato, sentences are potent and impacting. This is a very Irish book with lots of words and phrases which could be a bit tedious for some but read in the right accent gives a full on 'I am there, in Ireland' feel to it.

The story centres around Melody and her failing marriage to Pat after revealing she is pregn
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Donal Ryan is the author of the novels The Spinning Heart, The Thing About December, the short-story collection A Slanting of the Sun, and the forthcoming novel All We Shall Know. He holds a degree in Law from the University of Limerick, and worked for the National Employment Rights Authority before the success of his first two novels allowed him to pursue writing as a full-time career.

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