Cheyenne Blue's Reviews > The Secret Scripture

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
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it was amazing
bookshelves: irish, literary-fiction

A sad and beautiful book, that moves like a stream, slowly, slowly, until it spills out to the sea in a great rush.

This is the story of Roseanne McNulty, 100 year old resident of the "Leitrim Hotel" (the local's name for the Roscommon lunatic asylum, so named because half of Leitrim is in there) told in the alternating written records of Roseanne and her psychiatrist, Dr Grene. It's slow moving, but lush and beautiful with language and phrases of Ireland (that reminded me acutely of my time living there). It's set in the time of the IRA and De Valera and Ireland's tortured and troubled history of the early-mid 20th century through to the near-present.

I loved this on several fronts: the language and writing, the deceptively simple story (so compelling) and because it's set in an area of Ireland where I lived for a while (Roscommon and Sligo). There's something anchoring in reading about an area you know well. Even though Roseanne's Sligo was 60 or so years away from mine, the Metal Man, the Coney Island causeway markers, Strandhill, Knocknarea, Queen Maeve's grave, Rosses Point and Roscommon town are like old friends, with many aspects unchanged in Roseanne's memory and mine.

It's also a reminder of how Ireland has changed, and for the better. There's less cruelty done now in the name of religion, the conflicts are mostly gone. "The Secret Scripture" though, brings up a time not so far away, in living memory for those as long-lived as Roseanne.

It's not an easy read in places, there's so much cruelty, manipulation and hatred on the surface, but underneath it all is a story of love in all its forms.

At first, the ending felt forced to me, but upon reflection, Barry has built the book from the ending, rather than contrived an ending for the book. Simply beautiful.

I've marked this up from 4 stars to 5 in the time it's taken me to write this.
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Reading Progress

March 12, 2014 – Shelved
March 12, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
March 24, 2014 – Started Reading
March 27, 2014 –
page 27
8.33%
March 27, 2014 –
27.0%
April 1, 2014 – Shelved as: irish
April 1, 2014 – Shelved as: literary-fiction
April 1, 2014 – Finished Reading

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