All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan

all we shall know

All we shall know tells the story of Melody Shee, a 33 year old married woman locked in a childless and angry marriage. Upon discovering that her husband has been visiting prostitutes, she responds by becoming pregnant by a 17-year-old Traveller boy whom she has been teaching and is living as a kind of outcast. She befriends Mary Crothery, a Traveller girl whom she adopts as a kind of alter ego, who possesses the gift of second sight.

The book follows the pattern of her pregnancy and brings her into the world of halting sites with its network of family feuds and wars.

The book is interspersed with memories: of screaming rows with her estranged husband and the uncontrollable torrents of abuse unleashed between them; and memories of her childhood friend Breedie Flynn and how she betrayed her. In more ways than one she is a woman who has lost the run of herself.

The book is very well written-and does explore new territory-dealing with traveller issues & written from a woman’s viewpoint. Nevertheless I found it a difficult read – the protagonist is quite simply a horrible person and the moral consequences of her actions – seducing a boy of 16 over the course of a year – are not really examined in any depth.

Still worth a read!


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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