When All is Said and Done by Robert Hill


  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555974945
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555974947

Cole Porter never wrote songs for couples like us. Couples who have children and dogs and freezers rusting in the garage and problems that can’t be solved la-dee-da, like it was just one of those things.

When All is Said and Done


All first novels should be this perfect.  How refreshing not to read a self-conscious first effort by a new novelist.  This is an example of a writer bursting out of the starting gate with a very sophisicated effort.  No birth pangs at all for Robert Hill, or if he had them they certainly don’t show.

This is an impressive novel dealing with what would normally be seen as a distinctly unromantic plot, that is an examination of a longtime married couple with children and all that goes into holding such a relationship together.  This particular story deals with a Jewish couple living in New York City, until they decide to leave the rat race and move out to more rural Connecticut. The high-powered executive in this family isn’t the husband, Dan, but the wife, Myrmy. And this is 1950’s/1960’s America.  Very unconventional, and the fact that Myrmy is the breadwinner opens up all sorts of other related issues the couple must deal with, especially after a bout of pneumonia leaves her too weak and ill to work for a long period of time. 

This isn’t a sexy, exciting novel. It’s a novel about the long haul of marriage.  That in itself may not be singular, but the very high quality of the prose is.  Robert Hill writes in a style that verges on stream-of-consciousness, yet is never self-consciously literary. Never does the reader feel the need to struggle to understand what’s happening in this book. It’s all crystal clear, yet the style manages to achieve such an impressively high literary standard.  Truly amazing in a new author, and if Hill continues to write this well I anticipate him potentially becoming a real force to be reckoned with.

Very, very impressive, and worth taking a brief break from my Booker Project to read.



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