The Secret Scripture

By Sebastian Barry
Binding:Hardcover
Publisher:Viking Adult, (6/12/2008)
Language:English



Average Rating:
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3.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)


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A gorgeous new novel from the author of the Man Booker finalist A Long Long Way

As a young woman, Roseanne McNulty was one of the most beautiful and beguiling girls in County Sligo, Ireland. Now, as her hundredth year draws near, she is a patient at Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital, and she decides to record the events of her life.

As Roseanne revisits her past, hiding the manuscript beneath the floorboards in her bedroom, she learns that Roscommon Hospital will be closed in a few months and that her caregiver, Dr. Grene, has been asked to evaluate the patients and decide if they can return to society. Roseanne is of particular interest to Dr. Grene, and as he researches her case he discovers a document written by a local priest that tells a very different story of Roseanne’s life than what she recalls. As doctor and patient attempt to understand each other, they begin to uncover long-buried secrets about themselves.

Set against an Ireland besieged by conflict, The Secret Scripture is an epic story of love, betrayal, and unavoidable tragedy, and a vivid reminder of the stranglehold that the Catholic Church had on individual lives for much of the twentieth century.
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"The Secret Scripture"
By Sebastian Barry

Average Rating:
Unleash it
3.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)


The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 
 
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From Publishers Weekly
The latest from Barry (whose A Long Way was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker) pits two contradictory narratives against each other in an attempt to solve the mystery of a 100-year-old mental patient. That patient, Roseanne McNulty, decides to undertake an autobiography and writes of an ill-fated childhood spent with her father, Joe Clear. A cemetery superintendent, Joe is drawn into Ireland's 1922 civil war when a group of irregulars brings a slain comrade to the cemetery and are discovered by a division of Free-Staters. Meanwhile, Roseanne's psychiatrist, Dr. Grene, investigating Roseanne's original commitment in preparation for her transfer to a new hospital, discovers through the papers of the local parish priest, Fr. Gaunt, that Roseanne's father was actually a police sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary. The mysteries multiply when Roseanne reveals that Fr. Gaunt annulled her marriage after glimpsing her in the company of another man; Gaunt's official charge was nymphomania, and the cumulative fallout led to a string of tragedies. Written in captivating, lyrical prose, Barry's novel is both a sparkling literary puzzle and a stark cautionary tale of corrupted power. (June) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 

From Booklist
*Starred Review* From the first page, Barry’s novel sweeps along like the Garravogue River through Sligo town, taking “the rubbish down to the seas, and bits of things that were once owned by people and pulled from the banks, and bodies, too, if rarely, oh, and poor babies, that were embarrassments, the odd time.” We are in the head and the journal of 100-year-old “mad” Roseanne McNulty, locked up for decades in an asylum in rural west Ireland. She has begun writing her life story, hiding it nightly beneath her bedroom’s creaking floorboards. Simultaneously, her putative therapist, Dr. Grene, who barely knows her, much less her history or prognosis, begins an observation journal about her. The asylum is to be downsized, and he must determine whether she is sane enough to live on her own. He attempts to reconstruct the reasons for her imprisonment, as it turns out to be, and that pitches the novel into the dark depths of Ireland’s civil war and the antiwoman proscriptions on sexuality of the national regime Joyce famously called “priestridden.” Barry weaves together Grene’s and Roseanne’s stories, which are ultimately the same story, masterfully and with intense emotionality that nevertheless refuses to become maudlin. Another notable part of Barry’s artistry is the sheer poetry of his prose, now heart-stoppingly lyrical, now heart-poundingly thrilling. An unforgettable portrait of mid-twentieth-century Ireland. --Patricia Monaghan 

Review
aThese lives are reimagined in language of surpassing beauty. Above all it is the surpassing quality of Mr. Barryas language that gives it its power . . . Mr. Barry has said that his novels and plays often begin as poems (he is a published poet), but his language never clots the flow of his story; it never gives a whiff of labor and strain. It is like a song, with all the pulse of the Irish language, a song sung liltingly and plaintively from the top of Ben Bulben into the airy night.a
aDinitia Smith, "NY Times Daily Book Review" 
aJust as he (Barry) describes people stopping in the street to look at Roseanne, so I often found myself stopping to look at the sentences he gave her, wanting to pause and copy them down . . . When I reached the last page, I did feel that I had shared a profound experience . . .a
aMargot Livesey, "The Boston Globe" 
aLuminous and lyrical.a
aPam Houston, "O Magazine" 
aIad nominate Sebastian Barry, the most exhilarating prose stylist in Irish fictionawhich just about makes him, by definition, the best prose writer in the English language . . . Barry has shown a dazzling facility with poetry, drama and fictionahis works form a mosaic-like whole, though each stands on its own. He never uses a fancy word when a simple one will do; his characters speak a plain vocabulary, but in cadences tempered and honed into poetry . . . Sebastian Barryas achievement is unlike that of any other modern Western writer, a tapestry of interrelated works in different mediums woven from strands of his past and that of his country. "The Secret Scripture" fits seamlessly into a vision that seeks to restore with language that which has been taken away byhistory.a
aAllen Barra, "Salon.com" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. 

Review
“These lives are reimagined in language of surpassing beauty. Above all it is the surpassing quality of Mr. Barry’s language that gives it its power . . . Mr. Barry has said that his novels and plays often begin as poems (he is a published poet), but his language never clots the flow of his story; it never gives a whiff of labor and strain. It is like a song, with all the pulse of the Irish language, a song sung liltingly and plaintively from the top of Ben Bulben into the airy night.”
–Dinitia Smith, NY Times Daily Book Review

“Just as he (Barry) describes people stopping in the street to look at Roseanne, so I often found myself stopping to look at the sentences he gave her, wanting to pause and copy them down . . . When I reached the last page, I did feel that I had shared a profound experience . . .”
–Margot Livesey, The Boston Globe

“Luminous and lyrical.”
–Pam Houston, O Magazine

“I’d nominate Sebastian Barry, the most exhilarating prose stylist in Irish fiction—which just about makes him, by definition, the best prose writer in the English language . . . Barry has shown a dazzling facility with poetry, drama and fiction—his works form a mosaic-like whole, though each stands on its own. He never uses a fancy word when a simple one will do; his characters speak a plain vocabulary, but in cadences tempered and honed into poetry . . . Sebastian Barry’s achievement is unlike that of any other modern Western writer, a tapestry of interrelated works in different mediums woven from strands of his past and that of his country. The Secret Scripture fits seamlessly into a vision that seeks to restore with language that which has been taken away by history.”
–Allen Barra, Salon.com 
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Sebastian Barry is a playwright whose work has been produced in London, Dublin, Sydney, and New York. His novel A Long Long Way was a finalist for the 2005 Man Booker Prize. His other novels include The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty and Annie Dunne


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