All We Shall Know: A Novel
Melody Shee’s life is careening out of her control. Her husband, Patrick, has been sleeping with prostitutes. She herself slept with Martin Toppy, a teenage Traveller she’d been teaching to read. Now, pregnant with Martin’s child, she must bear the shame she’s brought on herself, Patrick, and Patrick’s family, while struggling with the guilt she feels over letting her relationship with Martin take such a turn. As Melody’s pregnancy progresses week by week, she begins tutoring another Traveller, Mary Crothery, who has many problems of her own. Tensions between two rival Traveller groups put Mary, Martin, and their loved ones in danger, and Melody must consider how she might atone for her own mistakes and help those who need it most.
Beautifully depicting life in a small Irish town, Ryan gives an unflinchingly intimate portrait of Melody’s lifelong regrets, including her cruelty toward a childhood friend that may have contributed to the friend’s suicide. Though Melody’s story is bleak, and her decisions are often lamentable, Ryan offers glimmers of hope–that past wrongs can be assuaged by kindness toward those in need and that love may very well be enough to save a life.