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This Is Happiness

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4.22  ·  Rating details ·  2,555 ratings  ·  595 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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Cendaquenta The book does involve a death by illness, which could be triggering for some, but other than that I don't recall anything traumatic happening.

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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  2,555 ratings  ·  595 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Julie Christine
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
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.
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
Cathrine ☯️
Sep 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
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.
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
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 (redwritinghood)
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
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
Jeanette (Again)
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
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.
Hilary
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the start of this book but lost interest and gave up over half way through. Some moments of beautiful writing.
Robert Blumenthal
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is my second excursion into the land of Niall Williams (The History of the Rain being my first), and this was about as good as it gets. Full disclosure, I have a thing for the Irish culture (writing, music, humor) and this novel really speaks to me. It takes place in a tiny village in Western Ireland mostly in the late 1950s, and 17-year old Noel is living with his grandparents trying to establish himself after the death of his mother--not sure I remember what happened to his father. Electr ...more
Lizp
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The prose in this book is beautiful. It is set in County Clare in the 1950s, pre-electricity. The narrator, Noe, is in his 70s. He moved to Faha at 17 for a time after his mum’s death. He had left the seminary a short time before to go and be with his nan and grandad.

He forms a friendship with Christy who is in his 60s. Christy, who works for tte ESB, boards with his grandparents and is in Faha not only for work but to try to make reparation to a woman (Annie) he had loved and let down. Noe want
...more
Doug
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5, rounded down.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed Williams' latest, much as I did his last tome, History of the Rain, my favorite of the Booker longlist for 2014. But it took me an absurdly long time to get into and through it, so I can't quite give it 5 stars. But much as with the books of my other favorite contemporary Irish author (and Booker winner!), Anne Enright, Williams has a way of being simultaneously utterly unique, and yet completely universal. In gorgeous prose, he lays out his story,
...more
D
Mar 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting 'roman de terroir' about Western Ireland in the 1970's when many villages did not have electricity yet and the catholic church was the all-powerful ruler of society. Lots of amusing parts but a bit long-winded and repetitive and sometimes too melodramatic for my taste.
Jennifer
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
First-rate writing. Every sentence is a treasure. The characters are charming. And it is verrrrrrry slow. Like, three things happen. But the writing is lovely, lovely.
Anita Diamant
Reading this book is happiness.
A novel about the electrification of Faha, a tiny town in Ireland.
I wanted to underline something on every page.
Stunning prose and moving, unexpected story.
Read this.
Bridget
When the Booker Prize list is announced later this year I fully expect this book to be one of the nominated books. This is one of the books I bought for myself for Christmas, a treat book, with firm hopes that I would love it and I so did. The writing is lush and gorgeous, it transports you to a place and time from the past, a past when electricity is about to enter the lives of ordinary folk in a small Irish village called Faha. Change isn't something that the population are keen to embrace, th ...more
Mary Lins
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: complete
I love Irish writers (looking at you Maggie O’Farrell and John Boyne!) and stories about Ireland, so I was eager to read Niall Williams’ latest novel, “This is Happiness”. What a treat! Williams, with his gorgeous prose and his Irish wit, managed to transport me out of COVID 19 lock-down, to Faha, Ireland, in the late 1950s! I didn't want to leave.

It was Easter week in the tiny village of Faha. Noah “Noe” Crowe was seventeen and living with his grandparents Doady and Ganga, when on Spy Wednesday
...more
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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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“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.” 7 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” 4 likes
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