Books set in Ireland – The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry By Packabook Travel Novels - http://www.packabook.com
Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture is the story of Roseanne McNulty, who at around 100 years old has been living in a psychiatric hospital for most of her life. It may not sound like the promising start to a novel, but as Roseanne begins to write down the story of her life, we are soon drawn into the fascinating world of 20's and 30's rural Ireland, a time of civil war and the Irish Free State. Roseanne's upbringing in the Coastal town of Sligo in Ireland's west is one of poverty and sadness, yet Barry's stunning prose leaves you lingering over his words, no matter how distressing the scene. From the very beginning a great sense of loss permeates this novel. We do not know why Roseanne is in the institution, so as she tells us of her childhood and youth, we are just waiting to discover what set of circumstances could possibly result in her being locked away. It is not all bleak, there are glimpses of sunshine in Roseanne's life, and we desperately want them to last, but still there is our knowledge of her fate, so we can never relax, knowing the happiness she finds must somehow come to an end. When it does, I found myself reacting with anger at how easy it was for a woman's destiny to be decided by others at that time in a country where the influence of the church was all encompassing. In truth, Roseanne has no say over her own future, she is at the mercy of the men who surround her, the attitudes of the society in which she lives and the will of the church and its agents. For those of us living in the West in the 20th century it is a reminder of how much things have changed for many of us, but also how this is still the case for women in many countries around the world. © Packabook Travel Novels – http://www.packabook.com Page 1
I enjoyed learning something of the history of Ireland with this novel. When we think of the Ireland of today, it is easy to forget the brutal civil war that took place less than a hundred years ago. This was a time when people were judged not just by their own politics and allegiances, but also those of their families and friends. It was a time of survival and betrayal, themes which permeate the novel. The Irish Free State existed between 1922 and 1937, and was then succeeded by the modern state of Ireland. Through Barry's novel we learn how divisive this time was, giving us an insight into the political tensions that existed. There were some wonderful descriptions of the landscape and character of rural Ireland. At times, it is overwhelmingly dismal "as it was raining with that special Sligo rain that has made bogland of a thousand ancient farms" (p96) while at others we can feel the wonders of living by the ocean. "Oh yes, the beach at Strandhill, high tide as it was, is good for a little, and then it plunges down, you are suddenly in the big water of the bay there" (p150). I loved this book. While some found its ending a little too convenient, I was prepared to suspend my disbelief in honour of such a beautifully told story, if you are looking for a gentle, moving novel set in Ireland, this is a perfect choice. This is just one of many books set in Ireland we feature at Packabook, where we find the best books set in fascinating countries for you to read. We believe that reading novels set in foreign lands helps us to understand the world in which we live. Come and visit us to continue exploring the world through fiction. Disclosure Policy If you read our reviews and click on our links to buy books, we will receive a tiny commission for referring you. This does not affect the price you pay for the books, and we thank you for your support!
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