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This Is Happiness

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4.21  ·  Rating details ·  8,533 ratings  ·  1,690 reviews
About This Is Happiness
The most enchanting novel you'll read this year, from the acclaimed author of Man Booker-longlisted History of the Rain

Change is coming to Faha, a small Irish parish that hasn't changed in a thousand years.

For one thing, the rain is stopping. Nobody remembers when it started; rain on the western seaboard is a condition of living. But now – just as Fa
...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published December 3rd 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published September 5th 2019)
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Elise Ann The audiobook is *wonderful.* I think this book was made to be read aloud, and the narrator is fabulous. I have a smile on my face the whole time I'm …moreThe audiobook is *wonderful.* I think this book was made to be read aloud, and the narrator is fabulous. I have a smile on my face the whole time I'm listening.(less)
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Therese Junior Crehan is the musician that Christy and Noe spent so many evenings searching for.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  8,533 ratings  ·  1,690 reviews


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Paromjit
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Niall Williams writes a joyous ode to Ireland, its landscape, and to family and community roots in this lyrical coming of age novel set in the rural village of Faha in County Clare. It speaks of a not so long ago past where life was simpler, a place that ran to its own sense of time, ostensibly not a memorable place, but Williams lovingly and tenderly evokes and illuminates a family and a community with their own particular beauty. Even if it did rain incessantly in all its multitudinous forms a ...more
Candi
"Story was the stuff of life, and to realise you were inside one allowed you to sometimes surrender to the plot, to bear a little easier the griefs and sufferings and to enjoy more fully the twists that came along the way."

I don’t know how to properly convey the beauty of this novel. I could share all the passages I rapturously marked, but then I might as well hand you the entire book. I was lost for a spell in the small Irish village of Faha, and think we would all do well to escape these moder
...more
Beata
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Niall Williams is as Irish as an author can be. His observations focus on a small community of Faha in County Clare, living the way previous generations lived, with thier small affairs and problems. What is happiness? This is happiness, being satisfied with the small universe around you, solving problems using simple yet clever ideas, and feeling the unity with everything that surrounds you and has always been there.
This is a story of a teenager who lives in Dublin and who, after a traumatic eve
...more
JimZ
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is why I read.

On the back over of this book there was a blurb from the Financial Times: “William’s prose [is]…life-affirming and written with a turn of phrase that makes the reader want to underline something good on every page.”

I bookmarked 12 pages.

I was crying near the end. And yet there were some passages in the book that made me laugh out loud (which takes a lot for me) or smile or have me talking to myself.

The time period in which the story takes place is in the 1950s, when electricit
...more
Angela M (On a little break)
Dec 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
It’s a quiet story where it seems not much happens, but yet everything that is significant in life happens, slow moving and graceful - the beauty of friendship, of love, of family. The gorgeous writing took me back to Faha, the small village in Ireland of Niall Williams’ History of the Rain.

“It was where, when darkness fell, it fell absolutely, and when you went outside the wind sometimes drew apart the clouds and you stood in the revelation of so many stars that you could not credit the wonder
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Cheri
Set in the rural village of Faha, in County Clare, Ireland, this story wanders a bit as though it is traveling on one of the twisty, winding rural roads of the place where this story begins, and electricity is about to come to the people who live there.

It had stopped raining.

This story begins with this sentence, a very telling sentence that is even more so as it is the first chapter, this spot in Ireland where rain was …a condition of living. It came straight-down and sideways, frontwards backw
...more
Pedro
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A week ago I had no idea who Niall Williams was but after this I’m sure I will not forgetting him for the rest of my life.
This was beautiful. There’s no other way to put it. Simply beautiful.

Nostalgic and melancholic from start to finish this is one of those novels where you’ll have to fall into the rhythm of the words to truly appreciate it. This is a book to be savoured and you can’t rush it. And you can’t give up on it either.

And so much wisdom... So many beautiful passages... I wanted to
...more
Elyse Walters
No Spoilers....
Simply my personal feelings....

Niall Williams was one of my favorite -most exciting - new discovery authors when I read
“History of the Rain”, and “As It Is in Heaven”...
I cherished both other books.... and can’t recommend them
enough.
I knew I wanted to read more from Niall Williams ...
so when I saw “This Is Happiness”... ‘before’ seeing it available-to-request-on-Netgalley-
I didn’t hesitate to purchase it and began reading it right away ...,
But here’s the truth: I kept forcing mys
...more
Ron Charles
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Ireland that Niall Williams writes about in this novel is gone — or would be if he hadn’t cradled it so tenderly in the clover of his prose. Escaping into the pages of “This Is Happiness” feels as much like time travel as enlightenment. Halfway through, I realized that if I didn’t stop underlining passages, the whole book would be underlined.

Although it takes place in the late 1950s, the story feels bathed in sepia tones, and that’s not just the candlelight of Williams’s nostalgia. Electrici
...more
Carolyn
Reading 'This is Happiness' is like taking a slow trip down a gently flowing river, winding languidly around wide bends, in the company of good friends with long stories to tell, your favourite drink by your side, and all the time in the world to enjoy it. His prose is lush and lyrical and filled with gentle humour and love as he recounts an earlier time in rural Ireland, before the coming of the telephone and electricity, when life was simpler and steeped in tradition.

Noel ('Noe') Crowe is the
...more
emma
There is nothing wrong with this book, it's just not my type of book and also I don't remember anything about it.

There are books I'm still capable of reviewing that I read 7+ years ago, but this one...we hit the four week mark and the memory had flown the coop, my dear boy!

It was...very Irish? That's all I got.

Bottom line: Meh!

--------------
pre-review

not quite happiness, for me personally.

review to come / 3 stars

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tbr review

uncertain i could identify it in a lineup

(thanks to the publ
...more
Laysee
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
‘The truth turns into a story when it grows old. We all become stories in the end. So, though the narrative was flawed, the sense was of a life so lived it was epic.’ - This is Happiness, Niall Williams


This is Happiness is a wondrous story set in Faha, Ireland, in the 1950s, of life in a rural parish before the days of electricity. For me, happiness is reading yet another talented Irish writer, who is likely to rank among my favorite authors.

One of the first things that struck me was the freshn
...more
Lisa
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unable-to-finish
It is rare that I don't finish a novel for book club - especially one that I was looking forward to. But I am on page 160 and nothing has happened. And I'm fairly sure nothing is going to happen. Perhaps at another time, I would appreciate page after page of well-crafted sentences with no plot. But for now, I'm not going to endure another minute of boredom. ...more
Cathrine ☯️
Sep 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Happiness is not finishing this book. Seventy-five percent in and I cannot do it. Reading this was like slogging through the bogs of Ireland.
Happiness is starting another book. I can't wait, hopefully it will have a story to tell with characters I care about.
...more
Майя Ставитская
Music and fairy tale
Life is so sad, but we all live it.
"Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara

The Irish novelist and playwright Niall Williams is known at home and abroad. Performances based on his plays are successfully performed on theater stages; novels, starting with the debut "Four Letters of Love", become bestsellers and are translated into many languages.

For me, this is the first meeting with his work, for which I thank Shashi Martynova and Phantom. In this sequence: everything that Shashi tran
...more
Julie
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The perfect antidote for the rush and anxiety of modern life and the superficiality of our connectedness, This Is Happiness reminds us of what it means to live fully, deeply, in the present, to experience our environment on its terms, without distraction. Narrated by Noe (short for Noel) Crowe as an old man looking back nearly sixty year to the summer his grandparent's village of Faha, in Co. Clare, was hooked up to the electrical grid, This Is Happiness is a sumptuous, sublime and softly render ...more
Bianca
It took me way too long to finish this novel. This time, I can't blame it on my mood or on being busy, the writing just didn't grab me, I found myself drifting and avoiding picking up the book again. I love lyrical writing, I love melancholy ridden books - which This Is Happiness had in abundance. There was also humour and cheekiness, but despite all these elements that I treasure in a novel, This Is Happiness failed to keep my interest and I felt it was overwritten.

I hope History Of The Rain w
...more
Judith E
Jun 26, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book could not be more beautiful if Christy McMahon himself sang every word, on a starlit night, in a darkened pub, after a couple of beers or more.
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
This guy has a way with words, unquestionably. But there are just too many of them. Words, that is.
At one point in the novel the narrator tells us:
"One of the unwritten tenets of the local poetics was that a story must never arrive at the point, or risk conclusion."
Well said, Mr. Williams. You described your novel quite pithily.

I made it two-thirds of the way through this book, and it took me weeks........and weeks........and weeks. Then I set it aside for awhile because I had other things go
...more
Hugh
Jun 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2021
Another very enjoyable novel with a rural Irish setting - after the brilliant History of the Rain Williams' mature writing goes from strength to strength.

This is a wonderful mixture of nostalgia and realism set in a small Clare village in the 1950s. The central characters are the narrator Noe (Noel), who is looking back as an old man to the year in the late 1950s when electricity came to the village, bringing with it the lodger Christy, whose reasons for being there have their own history, and
...more
Betsy Robinson
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This writing is so rich that I found myself immediately relating to it as food. To have that make any sense, I have to tell you how I eat—which is really to explain what I don't eat, which revelation may elicit mockery. I don't eat sugar, animals, bread, or anything with white flour in it. In addition, I don't love cooking, but oddly I find cooking shows, and particularly Martha Stewart's, with her consonant-popping pronunciation and soothing voice, hypnotic. I've watched Martha dump sugar and f ...more
Bob Brinkmeyer
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Niall Williams’s This Is Happiness is exquisite, beautifully written and searchingly wise. I have not been quite as taken with a novel in a long while, and adding to my overwhelming response is the fact that I was pretty much blindsided by the novel’s depth and power, not having read anything by Williams before. I only turned to it having seen a few mentions by others on GR.

There’s been some scholarly work linking Irish and Southern (American) literature, and This Is Happiness no doubt will even
...more
Krista
Dec 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: irishfic, 2021
It was a condensed explanation, but I came to understand him to mean you could stop at, not all, but most of the moments of your life, stop for one heartbeat and, no matter what the state of your head or heart, say This is happiness, because of the simple truth that you were alive to say it.

I love me an Irish storyteller, and having previously loved Niall Williams’ History of the Rain, I thought that This is Happiness would be a slam dunk — but it was more of a shot that circles the rim forever
...more
Chavelli Sulikowska
Fell in love with this book about loss and love and lost love in 1940s rural Ireland. It is not a novel I thought I would really take too, and its certainly far from action packed - but it is deeply engaging and moving, with depth of characters and an acute evocation of Irelands and the societal upheavals at the time.
It is an ode to the simple pleasures of life - the pleasure of life itself, to be seen as a blessing despite all the traumas and upheavals and inexplicable cruelties.
Centred aroun
...more
Ingrid
Mar 13, 2021 rated it liked it
3,5 stars
I expected to love this book, but I didn't as much as I hoped I would.
It's set in Clare, where I've spent a lot of time, the language is poetic, the story is good, but somehow I never felt part of it. It took too long for me, too many words were used.
...more
Lyn Elliott
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When three of my friends and I finally managed to get together for lunch after months of Covid19 induced delays, we talked books. We always talk books. This time we found we were all reading solid stuff to keep us informed and up to date (as we always do) and we also agreed that if we were reading fiction, we wanted something lightening, no time for miseries and depression where there’s so much about us in the times we’re living through.

‘I have just the thing’ said W. Big smile, I brought it hom
...more
Julie
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Niall Williams takes his time to tell this story in the most lyrical way with well-drawn descriptions. He has populated his book with fascinating characters and their every day lives are made remarkable by Williams' skill in extracting the most out of each event and interaction. There were so many gorgeous turns of phrase that drew me in, however, the following are my absolute favorites:

About the lost art of darning: Dodie worked by the dim light of a paraffin lamp "with wools and threads of unm
...more
Jerrie
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adored this book. It was charming and witty and wise. The writing was rich and all the characters seemed alive. This is ultimately a book about the changes in the course of a life that are pivotal, even though you don’t often know that at the time. Set in a small Irish village, a young man leaves seminary school and comes to live with his grandparents following his mother’s death. He befriends an older man who is there to rekindle a lost love. The whole village is also being transformed as ele ...more
Debbi
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is undeniably beautiful. The pace is slow which makes it a book for a specific mood. It's rare that I pause two third of the way through a book, particularly one I like, but that is the case here. Living in the Pacific Northwest where the rain has come early this year I felt the need to escape the rainy green of Ireland. In the bright sunny days of summer I plan to return to Faha. ...more
Hilary
I really enjoyed the start of this book but lost interest and gave up over half way through. Some moments of beautiful writing.
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Niall Williams studied English and French Literature at University College Dublin and graduated with a MA in Modern American Literature. He moved to New York in 1980 where he married Christine Breen. His first job in New York was opening boxes of books in Fox and Sutherland's Bookshop in Mount Kisco. He later worked as a copywriter for Avon Books in New York City before leaving America with Chris ...more

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25 likes · 6 comments
“It was a condensed explanation, but I came to understand him to mean you could stop at, not all, but most of the moments of your life, stop for one heartbeat and, no matter what the state of your head or heart, say This is happiness, because of the simple truth that you were alive to say it.” 15 likes
“Books, music, painting are not life, can never be as full, rich, complex, surprising or beautiful, but the best of them can catch an echo of that, can turn you back to look out the window, go out the door aware that you’ve been enriched, that you have been in the company of something alive that has caused you to realise once again how astonishing life is, and you leave the book, gallery or concert hall with that illumination, which feels I’m going to say holy, by which I mean human raptness. So” 11 likes
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