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This Is Happiness

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4.23  ·  Rating details ·  831 ratings  ·  217 reviews
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 unaltered 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 Father Coffey proclaims the coming
...more
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published September 5th 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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Paromjit
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 ...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 dont 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 modern
...more
Beata
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...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
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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 Im sure I will not forgetting him for the rest of my life.
This was beautiful. Theres no other way to put it. Simply beautiful.

Nostalgic and melancholic from start to finish this is one of those novels where youll have to fall into the rhythm of the words to truly appreciate it. This is a book to be savoured and you cant rush it. And you cant give up on it either.

And so much wisdom... So many beautiful passages... I wanted to
...more
Ron Charles
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Ireland that Niall Williams writes about in this novel is gone or would be if he hadnt 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 didnt 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 thats not just the candlelight of Williamss nostalgia. Electricity has
...more
JimZ
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is why I read.

On the back over of this book there was a blurb from the Financial Times: Williams 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 electricity
...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 cant 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 didnt hesitate to purchase it and began reading it right away ...,
But heres the truth: I kept forcing myself to
...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 ...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 dont 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 mothers death. He befriends an older man who is there to rekindle a lost love. The whole village is also being transformed as ...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
...more
Debbi
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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. ...more
Doug
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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, ...more
Shiloah
Take a journey to an old Irish village of days gone by. While a fictional story, it was truly a book about human naturewhich is timeless. This is one Ill visit again in the future. Lovely, just lovely. ...more
MRIDULA
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Faha celebrates people and stories and William creates the tale of a family and a community that lives in a landscape so ordinary, yet so remarkable. Even with the rain throughout the year, this Irish community stands strong and proud.
.
Narrated by 78 year old Noel 'Noe' Crowe, this is his story as he looks back to his past days, living in a community with its fair share of glories and shame. The prose is immersive and brings out the best of Ireland. It reflects a life that we are incapable of
...more
Jennifer
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.
Linden
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A trip back to a small village in Ireland where the perpetual rain has stopped and electricity is about to be installed. This is a beautiful coming of age novel and a lovely portrait of the past.
Leah
This is a well written book, but I had a hard time staying interested. The descriptions of characters, scenery, etc is very detailed, most sentences are the length of a paragraph. The story is very slow moving and with the amount of non essential details, I found myself skimming, looking for the next important event. I think this will be a winner for a lot of readers, just not quite my cup of tea.
Amy
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can see why some people might think this is too slow-paced, but I absolutely wallowed in it and loved it.
Debbie
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
I loved everything about this book: the language, the characters, the setting, and the gentle pace of the story. The language is lovely and lyrical, each word perfectly placed and put together in unexpected ways...many of the unique phrases made me smile. I cared deeply for the characters, they seemed like people I have known in my life and I was sad to leave them at the end of the book.
This is a book to be savored and one of the most beautiful I've read in a long time.
Annagrace K.
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slowly unspooling story of small moments, which hang together, in the end, like intricately faceted beads, catching and refracting light. This Is Happiness reminds me of the kindness and particularity of Wendell Berrys fiction, though instead of Kentucky, its County Clare, Ireland. (Incidentally, Ive lived several years in one of those places and am connected by blood to the other.) Electricity comes to Faha and a boy comes of age in a small rural village. Niall Williams language is exquisite, ...more
Marcy
Mar 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 - The writing was spectacular in every way, the characters and setting interesting, but more often than not the story didnt keep my attention. Despite so many beautifully written parts and wry entertaining moments, it kept putting me to sleep. ...more
Anne Fenn
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Here Noe tells us about life in his village of Faha in Ireland. Christy arrives to board with him in his grandparents house. He has an ulterior motive which forms the basis of the book. Electricity is about to be connected over a year or two. Thats the bare bones, you need to read it to absorb the weather, the importance of music, dance, storytelling, all revealed in most beautiful language, sprinkled with Gaelic as well as unique ways of talking, so. Dont be totally misled by the title, where ...more
Caren
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Undoubtedly, this novel is the one of the most beautifully written narratives I've read. I simply did not want it to end. Williams creates a tender ode to his beloved Ireland in lyrical, gentle, and masterfully skilled prose. Although I don't enjoy being read to, I can imagine that this novel would be the one audiobook I'd enjoy. The narrator, elderly Noel Crowe, is unabashedly sentimental in his nostalgic recalling of his coming-of-age, particularly focused on his life at 17. "I write this now, ...more
Kathie Harper
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know where to start! I will keep it simple as the author has done as the narrator lives a life of self-examination in the west of Ireland as the age of modernity through the implementation of electricity comes to the village of Faha where he has gone to live with his grandparents. I have recently spent a lot of time researching my Irish heritage and through this book I feel as though I've gotten to know it on a basic level. My ancestors sensibility, their language, their love of music, ...more
Mom
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely, lovely lovely! This is Happiness is a quiet contemplative book meant to be read slowly and savored. The kind of book that obligated me to copy out pages and pages of quotes, and to constantly look around for someone to listen to me read aloud. Lovely!

The story takes place in an isolated Irish village in the 1970's. The narrator is an elderly man remembering a summer of his teenage years, a summer of quiet but momentous change. The plot takes a long time to develop, but, as I said, the
...more
Elizabeth Theiss
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obscuring the line between novel and memoir, Niall takes the reader to a village in Ireland at the time electricity arrives. This books rich language with its distinctively Irish turns of phrase and precisely described cultural norms brings the reader into village life from the perspective of a young man. My Irish great grandfather would recognize the place, if not the plot. Ah the plot. Its hard to discuss without giving away too much. Suffice it to say that the longing for love is powerful and ...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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96 likes · 44 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.” 1 likes
“Nobody in Faha could remember when it started. Rain there on the western seaboard was a condition of living. It came straight-down and sideways, frontwards, backwards and any other wards God could think of. It came in sweeps, in waves, sometimes in veils. It came dressed as drizzle, as mizzle, as mist, as showers, frequent and widespread, as a wet fog, as a damp day, a drop, a dripping, and an out-and-out downpour. It came the fine day, the bright day, and the day promised dry. It came at any time of the day and night, and in all seasons, regardless of calendar and forecast, until in Faha your clothes were rain and your skin was rain and your house was rain with a fireplace. It came off the grey vastness of an Atlantic that threw itself against the land like a lover once spurned and resolved not to be so again. It came accompanied by seagulls and smells of salt and seaweed. It came with cold air and curtained light. It came like a judgment, or, in benign version, like a blessing God had forgotten he had left on. It came for a handkerchief of blue sky, came on westerlies, sometimes—why not?—on easterlies, came in clouds that broke their backs on the mountains in Kerry and fell into Clare, making mud the ground and blind the air. It came disguised as hail, as sleet, but never as snow. It came softly sometimes, tenderly sometimes, its spears turned to kisses, in rain that pretended it was not rain, that had come down to be closer to the fields whose green it loved and fostered, until it drowned them.” 0 likes
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