Listening Still by Anne Griffin #ContemporaryFiction #Supernatural @AnneGriffin_ #TuesdayBookBlog

57693425Author: Anne Griffin

First Published in 2021 by Sceptre

Category: Contemporary Fiction, Supernatural


Jeanie Masterson has a gift: she can hear the last words of the dead.

Passed down from generation to generation, this gift means she is able to make wrongs right, to give voice to unspoken love and dying regrets. She and her father have worked happily alongside each other for years, but now he’s unexpectedly announced that he wants to retire early and leave the business to her and her life is called into question.

Listening Still centres around Jeanie Masterson who has what she considers a gift but also a curse. She can, for a short period of time, hear and talk to the dead, just like her father, and has been able to do so since she was a toddler. After Jeanie left school they have worked together in the family business, Masterson Funeral Directors, in the small town of Kilcross, Ireland along with Jeanie’s aunt Harry and her husband, Niall who were both embalmers.

Being privy to the thoughts and/or last wishes of the dead presents a moral dilemma for Jeanie and her father. All well and good if the messages are comforting and practical for those left, but what if the deceased is angry or bitter. Do they tell it like it is or soften the blow? And supposing the message is life changing for the recipient?

Jeanie’s world is rocked when her parents decide to retire and move away with Mikey, her autistic brother, leaving Jeannie, Niall and Harry running the business. This decision brings to the surface all the uncertainties about her life and choices made that Jeanie had pushed to the back of her mind. 

The minute my father told me he was retiring and handing Masterson Funeral Directors to me, I wanted to run. Run to the edges of this world, to teeter on its sheer cliff tops, to lift my head skyward, to breathe in the air that demanded nothing of me. To let that freedom from expectation reach each extremity, smoothing every crease and frown, unfurling my tightly gripped fists.

And yet, although she struggled with the burden and obligation, she knew her gift mattered, to the dead and the bereaved, and she was afraid of losing that part of herself.

This was such an intriguing premise, I couldn’t resist. The narrative goes back and forth, past to present, filling in the layers of Jeanie’s past, thought processes and relationships and how they’ve impacted over the years. She’s not sure of anything anymore and when she discovers there’s someone else who can hear the dead she takes the opportunity to travel, hoping the break and seeing her friends will help her to resolve the indecisiveness she feels.

Listening Still is extremely well written. I had trouble connecting with Jeanie initially, she came across as quite self absorbed, although admittedly her life has been far from the norm. Perhaps I would have liked more action in the funeral parlour, so to speak but I think the listening part applied to Jeanie as well, in her regular life. I enjoyed the community feel in Kilcross and loved the relationship between Jeanie and Mikey. A thought provoking, slow burn read.


AnneGriffinAnne’s second novel ‘Listening Still’ was published in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa on April 29th, 2021. Anne was awarded the Newcomer of the year at the Irish Book awards 2019 for her debut novel ‘When All Is Said’ which will be translated into 20 foreign languages.
Find out more on Anne’s website.


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