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Archive: Other Books > Days Without End, by Sebastian Barry (4 stars)

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message 1: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2671 comments Beautiful writing and a tender and unusual love story at its heart. I particularly loved the voice that Sebastian Barry creates for the narrator Thomas - it’s very plausible, endearing and consistent.

It would have been a five star read for the language alone, but I was less entranced by the various battles that take up most of the book. On the plus side, they created a gritty reality, they gave a strong sense of place and time (and the horrors of how the Indian peoples were treated), they provided drama and danger, and they established relationships that were central to the plot development, some of which were in pointed contrast to the more tender sides of the story. My interest in extended battle scenes is just limited, so I found it less easy to be engaged during those passages - and they do take up a lot of space.

(PS I wonder why I find it so hard to write reviews for books that I love, like this, where I can write a thesis about those I dislike - such as the other review I've just saved into this folder. My brain is obviously wired to the negative, sigh).

message 2: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments I agree about that battle scenes Kate. They really brought it down for me. I also agree that negative reviews are so easy to write. I find that in real life book discussions are the same. When I hate a book I can discuss it for hours and hours!

message 3: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2671 comments I’m expecting to like The Secret Scripture even more though :)

message 4: by Book Concierge (last edited Jul 14, 2018 05:15AM) (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6400 comments So glad you also enjoyed Barry's writing in this book. I just read it for my F2F book club. Very stimulating discussion!

It was a 4-star read for me as well.

Totally agree with you about negative reviews being somehow easier to write.

message 5: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6865 comments This was a 5 star read for me, but I have become much more tolerant of battles, because I love the drama of war stories.

message 6: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2671 comments I found my reaction to the battles unusual too as I generally enjoy the drama as long as it’s well written. Give me a good old Napoleonic War battle (especially naval ones like Patrick O’Brien books or Hornblower) and I’m turning the pages, biting my fingernails. I read WWII novels without blinking. Military sci-fi like Tanya Huff? No probs. And anything about the Trojan War has me positively salivating.

I wondered if it was genuinely a question of balance with this one, or whether I was missing why Barry was focusing so strongly on that element in the book. Perhaps that level of detail was meant to contrast with - and so emphasise - the gorgeously understated and powerful way in which the men’s love for each other was portrayed. But I think I’d have preferred the same level of understatement. Instead, it just felt like ‘here we go, time to charge down the hill attacking someone again’.

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