It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church.
Small Things Like These is a short but atmospheric novella about Bill and his family (his wife and five daughters) through a cold winter in Ireland. Bill is a coal merchant and one night at Christmastime, Bill makes a shocking discovery – something that throws a bad light on the Catholic Church and the Nuns at the local convent.
The way people around his – even those he holds very dear – react to this says a lot about the power the Church has over the local community, and what it means to be a real ‘Christian’ – especially at Christmas.
The characters are convincing and the plot is fairly slow. Small Things Like These is a bleak but powerful novel and, as I listened to the audiobook (which was narrated really well by Aidan Kelly) I wasn’t as gripped by it as I often am when I read a print book, but it addresses a very important topic. It makes the reader think about what life must be like for those young girls separated from their babies and treated so cruelly.