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Publisher's Summary

Change is coming to Faha, a small Irish parish unaltered in a 1,000 years.

For one thing, the rain is stopping. Nobody remembers when it started; rain on the western seaboard is a condition of living. But now - just as Father Coffey proclaims the coming of the electricity - the rain clouds are lifting.

Seventeen-year-old Noel Crowe is idling in the unexpected sunshine when Christy makes his first entrance into Faha, bringing secrets he needs to atone for. Though he can't explain it, Noel knows right then: something has changed.

As the people of Faha anticipate the endlessly procrastinated advent of the electricity, and Noel navigates his own coming-of-age and his fallings in and out of love, Christy's past gradually comes to light, casting a new glow on a small world.

Harking back to a simpler time, This Is Happiness is a tender portrait of a community - its idiosyncrasies and traditions, its paradoxes and kindnesses, its failures and triumphs - and a coming-of-age tale like no other.

Luminous and lyrical, yet anchored by roots running deep into the earthy and everyday, it is about the power of stories: their invisible currents that run through all we do, writing and rewriting us, and the transforming light that they throw onto our world.

©2019 Niall Williams (P)2019 W. F. Howes Ltd

What listeners say about This Is Happiness

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Poetry disguised as Prose

Harper Lee said one of the reasons she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird was to preserve the image of a small Southern community, whose time was rapidly passing by the middle of the 20th Century. Set just a few years later, post-Sputnik, pre-Beatles, Niall Willaims does the same in This is Happiness.

His preservation project was Faha, in County Clare, Ireland. It's a small parish and the story is equally sized but rich in detail. This is a community finally being wired for electricity and everyone sees it as a demarcation point, a step into the future.

Told from the point of view of No(el), a 17-year-old trying to find himself, he takes his time telling his story. It's a love story about love of community and love of family, while also working as a love story of unrequited and young lovers.

Williams takes his time in the telling because it matches the pace of the community. There are digressions but they're always interesting and he's being as poetic as possible while still writing prose. It's a lovely story and you're wistful for those simpler days.

The writing is just lovely. I heard it as an audiobook and Dermot Crowley's narration is pitch-perfect, adding an extra dimension to the experience.

5 people found this helpful

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Utterly delightful. Therapeutic.

I enjoy this book and this performance from start to finish. Perfect in these trying times.

5 people found this helpful

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A story of love and tenderness

A chance recommendation and a discovery of love and tenderness. Every word rang true and the storytelling was superb! I have recommended this novel to so many people, please make time to listen yourself!!!

5 people found this helpful

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In the fashion of oral storytelling

“This is Happiness” was beautifully narrated, reminiscent of the oral tradition of story telling. So well written. So nuanced and comforting a reminder that the essence of happiness is simply, the embrace of being alive.

4 people found this helpful

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An utterly charming escape to not so long ago

Once again the Irish gift for use of the English language is demonstrated in nearly every sentence so rich with imagery that Faha will linger in your memory for a long time. Simply listening to the narration you will find yourself in a story of everyday small village life that is complex, compelling, and utterly rewarding. This is one of the most vivid books I have encountered in a long time. It offers a chance to realize that when life was simpler it also had humor, heartbreak, endurance, and, yes, happiness.

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Best book ever!!!

Loved the book . Love the narrator. My heart ha not been so touched in a long time!

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Full of grace

You can feel in your very bones every breath taken by these people, as gracefully and colorfully described by the author. As they live every moment you are with them, in their skins, a part of life more fully lived than before you turn the first page.

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One of the best books I have ever listened to!

I wish there were a six-star option. I’m surprised at how much I loved this book. Nothing much happens, the weather plays a role, and the pace is slow and sweet. This is a quiet story, set in a remote village in Western Ireland in the mid-20th century. The narrator, now an old man, recalls a spring when he was a boy if 19, staying with his grandparents in Faha, while the state electric company was putting in rural electrification. The book is about love: the teenager’s crush on all three daughters of the local doctor, the grandparents’ love for each other, and the love of an old man for the girl he left at the altar 50 years earlier. The book is gorgeous, made the more so by the superb Irish narration.

2 people found this helpful

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The Language of Happiness

This coming of age story is almost lost in the sensory delight of the words and the acting. The balance is struck after Mr Williams’s hero Noel, or has he is called No, takes us along through the agonies and mortifications of the first love, impulsive missteps, and painful consequences of a naive young man. It is equal parts painful and amusing.

2 people found this helpful

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Like escaping into time itself

I was a bit hesitant in the first few chapters, as the story meandered and I couldn't quite get where it was going. But having faith in the author and just enjoying the beauty of the words and sentences themselves, I found myself more and more captivated by the story. It took me in and brought me to another place, the town of Faha, whose inhabitants and quirks I feel I now know. There is an understated sense of humor here that had me chuckling throughout. And while being puzzled by the seemingly bland title at first, I now see how it perfectly describes the book and what it means to me. Another absolute gem by Niall Williams, supported by a supreme performance from the narrator. Storytelling at its finest.
Give it time, and it will give you happiness.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Suzanne Crowley
  • 09-20-19

Brilliant, funny, moving.

This book is an exquisite examination of life in an Irish village, and also an examination of life itself. The characters are beautifully drawn, you really miss them when you’ve finished it and they linger with you.
One of the main reasons for this is the wonderful reading of them by Dermot Crowley who has the skill to create a world of people, individualising them so subtly you can picture them clearly in the storytelling. I want to read/hear it again soon.

6 people found this helpful

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  • NElliedee
  • 05-17-21

A wonderouse mastery of language

I am Irish part raised by grandparents. I have been enchanted by Nialls use of the word to describe ,smell ,weather,emotion just utterly enthralling. Fabulous narration so paced and perfect a joy.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Teresa Moran
  • 09-13-20

Terrific

Wonderful storytelling. Beautiful use of English. The reader is brought right into the mood and time of a small village in Ireland, long since passed. Great character description, and stories of human resilience.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Nick Keith
  • 07-05-21

A masterpiece of a novel

This is superb storytelling. It is rich in language, rich in characters, rich in relationships. The sumptuous scenes and the scenery of the village of Faha are fixed firmly in heart and soul. They are for the ages though Faha may be 50 years behind the times. Old Noe remembers his teenage days in Kerry living with his grandparents, finding his world transformed by the returning Christy and the coming of the telephone and electricity, and by the experience of first love. ‘This is happiness’ is a masterpiece.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-28-20

Brilliant

A great story-well done Niall. A brilliant narration - well done Dermot. Sad. Funny. Clever.

1 person found this helpful

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  • holly bird
  • 07-25-20

Irish and Irish and then some more. Perfect!

I have just finished listening to "This is Happiness" and want to start it all over again. Just utter perfection in writing. Each sentence is overwhelming beautiful in description and measure. By the end, I just wanted to be in Fahy, with all its characterful inhabitants, with
the fiddle music and the newly installed lightbulbs glowing in the rain.

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  • Drama Queen
  • 01-09-22

Brilliant, just brilliant.

A moving and beautifully honest book, read with care and compassion. Read it and feel inspired.

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  • richh
  • 01-02-22

A deep music of words

A story of love, change and enduring happiness - the tale of modern meeting eternal. Excellent

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  • Anne
  • 12-17-21

This is an excellent story, read so well!

To hear this Irish story read in an Irish accent by Dermot Crowley, is a great privilege. It's heart warming, poignant and loving. I've read it several times, as it speaks of the depths of life and love. And I'll read it again. Worth having the Audible version.I



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  • Elena
  • 11-28-21

Such a beautiful book

This book is pure heaven. I could not stop listening. The narrator is absolutely perfect for the book. The writing is lyrical and poignant profound and funny at times. The whole story went straight into my heart.

I’m so glad to have discovered this wonderful writer.

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  • marian coffey
  • 09-29-21

A brilliant book, beautifully narrated.

This book is an affectionate and perceptive view of a small remote Irish village just as they move from the old ways of living as individuals and as part of the community into modern times with the arrival of the rural electrification scheme.
The characters are are fully realised. The dialogue is authentic and the language is sublime.
Mr Williams is one of Ireland's greatest living writers.

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  • AC
  • 10-24-21

This is beautiful

“This is Happiness” was recommended by a close friend and mentor during Melbourne’s lockdown 6.0, when it all seemed a bit bleak. “Read this,” he said. “It’ll take your mind off things.” And was he right…The book is narrated by an elderly Irish man, Noe, recalling the unforgettable summer he spent, at age 17, in his grandparents’ home in the Irish town of Faha. There was an unlikely warm spell, the town was about to be electrified, and Noe meets the enigmatic “Electricity man” Christie, in town, perhaps to woo an old lover. Peculiarly Irish, the book is at once funny and charming. But hidden within are also tales of humanity, heartbreak and sorrow. And one of the most moving love stories I have read. Niall Williams’ writing is beautiful - poetic, lyrical and ageless. “This is Happiness” is one of those books which leave you feeling bereft at the end. “Read it again”, my mentor advised. I just might.

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  • Fiona
  • 09-26-21

Poignant and funny, the best of Ireland in a book.

Absolutely compelling from first word to last, I read it too quickly and will reread many times I'm sure. It was like listening to a song I didn't want to end.

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  • M Jane Southey
  • 08-04-21

Best book I’ve listened to in 2021

The narrator and story together make this a ‘must listen to’ book. The prose is lyrical and wonderfully descriptive and the narrator brings the story delightfully to life for the author. It is a tender, affectionate, evocative, and beautifully described story of life and human behaviour in a small town in Ireland in the late 50’s and 60’s - I just loved it.

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  • FIONA S.
  • 08-03-21

An absolute delight.

Magical. Entirely transportive and restorative. Brilliant narration.
I think I need another trip to Ireland!

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  • V T SPILLANE
  • 08-14-20

A delight from start to finish.

This novel is beautifully written and narrated - I enjoyed every minute of it. A lovely reflection on life’s lessons in love and friendship.

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  • LJR
  • 06-14-20

This is happiness

Loved it! Mr Williams writes in such an evocative way that for the duration of this book I was living in Faha in County Clare, Ireland. The characters were so real..Noe and his grandparents, Christy and Noe on the bikes searching for the music. The men standing out the front of the church. The ladies hats. The rain. The sun. The mossy house. The “public” phone. All the different types of love.
For me, the beauty of this book was in the detail.
Having the book read to me was magic.

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  • michele taylor
  • 01-23-20

Fabulous Read

Another wonderful, clever, funny laugh out loud , before shedding a tear book. Niall Williams continues to deliver another heart warming story of a rapidly vanishing Ireland. A must read.

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  • deb
  • 12-09-19

Sublimely Ordinary

What a gorgeous book! I loved the sound of the Irish narrator (I do have a thang for the Irish lilt) and perfect for this story. An unusual way with phrases perhaps particular to this author, I’m not sure. I’m certainly going to read more of Niall Williams. I believe there is a prequel to this book.
I have time in abundance to listen & read books so I search out the 14 & 16 hour narratives. Often they are not ‘page turners’, and this book is not in that category. It meanders among the life of the people of Faha following love & death & all that makes a life.
I totally recommend this book.