Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > On Canaan's Side

On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry
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The lad knows how to unspool a yarn, that is for certain.

If you're planning to read this book, I would caution you against reading long detailed reviews about the plot and characters. The story really needs to unfold at the author's pace in the proper sequence. If you have hints of what's coming, it will dull your enjoyment of the book.

JUST THE BASICS: Lilly is an 89-year-old woman who is preparing to take her own life. Her grandson Bill has committed suicide, which is just one too many losses for her in a long life of great loss. She does not want to linger in a world without her Bill. Lilly spends seventeen days reeling out her life story in what she calls a 'confession.' She tells of her girlhood in Ireland, and then the rest of her life as a wind-blown immigrant in America.

Sebastian Barry is a gifted Irish storyteller. My only reservation about this novel is that there's an almost affectless quality to much of the narration. The most joyful and the most heartbreaking moments are presented with a certain detachment that keeps the reader at a distance from the events. And yet, I read from page 67 to the end all in one sitting. I tend to be a restless reader, and a book has to be a genuine jewel to hold me still for that long. On Canaan's Side is one of those jewels, but it has the muted luster of a pearl rather than the dazzle of a diamond. I found it 'unobjectionable,' as Lilly herself might say.
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Petra X (new)

Petra X This book sounds brilliant.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" The construction really is quite brilliant, the way he spools out her story a little at a time, interspersing it with her current life as an elderly grieving woman. Barry writes well from the perspective of an old woman, which he also did in The Secret Scripture.


message 3: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I'm going to have to read this one!


Judy You are the second, maybe third friend who loved this book. Its going to have to go into the sooner-rather-than-later pile.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" It doesn't take long to get through. Get it now, before everyone jumps in line ahead of you. :)


Judy Jeanette wrote: "It doesn't take long to get through. Get it now, before everyone jumps in line ahead of you. :)"

Yeah, it does seem that way. A book is out for a few months or a year and its available at the library. Then all of a sudden if you put a hold on it and you're 13th or 14th in line.

This is a pretty easy read isn't it? I'm still not fully recovered from the BB's.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" It's easy, yes, but not lighthearted.


Judy Okey doke...maybe I'll read it with my Happy Lite on. :-)


message 9: by Caroline (last edited Oct 25, 2012 04:50AM) (new) - added it

Caroline I have always preferred pearls to diamonds. I actually saw this on the shelf at our local library and decided to check it out here. What do I then find? One of your brilliant reviews! You've sold it to me. Hurrah!


message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy Just picked this up on audiobook and am looking forward to listening.


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