Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sebastian Barry "The Secret Scripture"

This is a beautiful story. Much has been written about it in other reviews and all extremely complimentary. I couldn't agree more with this.

For me the tale of Roseanne is reminiscent of other heroines like Tess in Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Anna in Anna Karenina. The male authors in each of these sensitively convey stories of female tragedy, that occur against a back drop of prejudice and social constraint.

Sebastian Barry has such a lyrical and enticing writing style. There is no sentimentality in the telling of Roseanne's story and perhaps because of this it is all the more moving. I also think that some of the power of the narrative occurs because of what is left out. The story is comprised of a series of exquisitely told anecdotes that are enough for us to see who this woman is.

I enjoyed how Roseanne's story provokes the reader to consider the role memory plays in our lives and in our perception of reality. It is not so much Roseanne's courage, although her courage is enormous, that stands out, but her dignity and ability to keep finding ways to engage with life. I feel like the story challenges us to be able to sit with the unknown sometimes and not have to keep pushing and asking questions.

I rarely feel the urge, or need, to reread a book, even one I have enjoyed greatly. But I know I will be dipping back into The Secret Scripture to savour again Sebastian Barry's beautiful writing and explore some more the many rich themes of the novel.


  1. I enjoyed this review - I felt exactly the same when I read this. Have you read anything else by Barry? I have the one about Eneus McNulty but I can't remember the full title.

    I just love discovering authors I know I'm going to read again. Barry's definitely one of them.

  2. I am currently reading "A Long Long Way" by Barry. I should say I have started it, put it aside and read other things. For some reason it has not gripped me in the same way as "The Secret Scripture." I am determined to give it another go. It is interesting; about a young Irish man going off to fight in WW1, and the language is beautiful.

  3. I loved this book. Here is my review on Rose City Reader.

    I would like to add a link to your review on mine. If that is OK with you, please leave a comment on my post with a link to your review and I will add it.

  4. Thanks for leaving your link -- I added it to my review.


Comments are very welcome.