On Canaan's Side: A Novel

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Overview

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, a mesmerizing new novel from the award-winning author of The Secret Scripture

A first-person narrative of Lilly Bere’s life, On Canaan’s Side opens as the eighty-five-year-old Irish émigré mourns the loss of her grandson, Bill. Lilly, the daughter of a Dublin policeman, revisits her eventful past, going back to the moment she was forced to flee Ireland at the end of the First World War. She continues her tale in America, where—far from her ...

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New York, NY 2011 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. SHIP DAILY from NJ; GIFT-ABLE as NEAR NEW FIRST, GLOSSY, fresh, NEAR NEW (beginning sign of shelving bump) ... w/DJ NEW AS SHOWN THIS COVER Sewn binding. Clothette over boards. With dust jacket. 272 p. Audience: General/trade. 9358 9358--Told in the first person, "On Canaan's Side" is at once epic and intimate. Spanning nearly seven decades, from the Great Depression through World War II to the Vietnam War, it is the heartbreaking story of a woman whose capability to love is enormous, and whose compassion, even for those who have wronged her, is astonishing. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, a mesmerizing new novel from the award-winning author of The Secret Scripture

A first-person narrative of Lilly Bere’s life, On Canaan’s Side opens as the eighty-five-year-old Irish émigré mourns the loss of her grandson, Bill. Lilly, the daughter of a Dublin policeman, revisits her eventful past, going back to the moment she was forced to flee Ireland at the end of the First World War. She continues her tale in America, where—far from her family—she first tastes the sweetness of love and the bitterness of betrayal.

Spanning nearly seven decades, Sebastian Barry’s extraordinary fifth novel explores memory, war, family ties, love, and loss, distilling the complexity and beauty of life into his haunting prose.

Winner of the 2012 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lilly Bere is an 89-year-old retired cook living in the Hamptons in Long Island in Irish writer Barry's latest novel (after The Secret Scripture). Lilly is mourning her grandson, a veteran of the first Gulf War, who has just committed suicide. But this is hardly the first loss she's had in a life spanning continents and many other wars. Born and raised in Ireland, Lilly's first encounter with loss comes when her brother Willie is killed in WWI. A fellow soldier, Tadg Bere, comes to pay his respects to the family and woos her in earnest soon after. The young couple has no time to marry, as Tadg, enrolled in the Black and Tans, an auxiliary police force, is implicated in an ambush of IRA militia men and a price is put on both their heads. They flee to America under assumed names, hoping to start a new life there in safety with the help of some extended family in Chicago, but the past catches up with them. Over the subsequent decades, Lilly is tossed around her adopted country, grappling with the distance from her homeland. She's fascinated by the expansiveness and vigor of America despite her unceasing heartache over the generations of men and their war service. Barry's skills are evident as he tenderly unspools Lilly's story, with a fine eye for intimate moments, but the final impression of her life against its historical backdrop is clouded by the familiarity of many of the novel's elements and the schematic way each additional emotional blow falls relentlessly, tugging at the reader's heartstrings with diminishing force. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Lilly Bere's complex life spans 20th-century America: owing to IRA death threats, she flees Ireland with her fiancé, he's killed, she marries and survives the Depression, her husband disappears, she raises a son who's called up for Vietnam, then he disappears, leaving a young son behind. Summed up that way, this book sounds implausible, but the award-winning Barry (e.g., Costa Book of the Year) has the skill to make it work. With a six-city tour.
From the Publisher
“Sebastian Barry’s achievement, enhanced by his latest novel, On Canaan’s Side, may be too great to be defined by the Booker or any other literary prize. Barry, the greatest prose writer in Irish letters—which by definition makes him the greatest writer of prose in the English language…No other novelist now writing can convey as Barry does the way in which unrighted wrongs continue to reverberate down through the ages, creating new versions of old tragedies for people with no knowledge of their origins…On Canaan’s Side fits seamlessly into Barry’s unique and expanding vision, seeking to restore with language that which has been taken away by time. Its real subject isn’t politics or even history but memory, a memory which reveals that ‘a measure of tragedy is stitched into everything if you follow the thread long through.’” — Allen Barra, The Daily Beast "Must Reads"

“Richly detailed, often cinematic…This is no self-indulgent apologia, and Irish writer Sebastian Barry makes the fine distinction between sentiment and sentimentality with a deft hand...With all the quiet interiority and the equanimity with which events are recalled here, it’s easy to overlook how exciting those events were. The “plot” is full of surprises – many shocking. War, single parenthood, betrayal, unexpected acts of compassion, death too early – or in at least one case, too late – and race relations are all threads in the tapestry of Lilly’s life. Accommodations must be made at every turn and Lilly makes them, all the while maintaining her own moral poise. Deservedly short-listed twice previously for the Man Booker Prize, Barry in his current offering maintains, and at times exceeds, the high level of finely wrought empathy attained in those award nominees…And as in those two novels, the play of history as it most intimately affects individual lives in such an infinite variety of ways is on exquisitely touching display.” — The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Lilly Bere is exceptional. She frees herself from one homeland and takes root in another. Her story is as American as it is Irish…elegiac…this Dubliner’s portrayal of our city feels organic. From the East Ohio Gas explosion to a run-in with racism at Luna Park, he weaves a rich, authentic backdrop. His prose is roundabout and tender…It’s a testament to the power of Barry’s quietly elegant prose that her immigrant story seems so tragic and so real.” — Laura DeMarco, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Sebastian Barry is a significant Irish writer and his new novel, set mainly in the United States, is a wonderful introduction to his work…The plot is beautifully crafted. Lilly’s wanderings…make the story seem episodic, but Barry knows exactly what he’s doing; the latter part of the novel has several convincing surprises.” — Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Gorgeously written.” — Milkwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“[A] compact but leisurely told narrative rich in mood and depth… On Canaan’s Side’s climactic pages glow with wonder and terror. They reach a catharsis of prose poetry as they mingle dramatically.” — New York Journal of Books

“Tripping, liquid prose that adroitly evokes everything from the smell of an Irish countryside to the heaviness of grief.” — Booklist

“Barry’s skills are evident as he tenderly unspools Lilly’s story, with a fine eye for intimate moments.” — Publishers Weekly

“A masterful novel filled with the bittersweet ruminations…It also sustains a page-turning momentum, leaving the reader in suspense until the very end whether this novel is an extended suicide note, a confession or an affirmation of life's blessings and embrace of its contradictions, as those various strains show the possibility of becoming one… Lilly reveals herself to be a woman of uncommon sense and boundless compassion…A novel to be savored.” — Kirkus Reviews

On Canaan's Side is written with vast sympathy and tenderness. Sebastian Barry's handling of voice and cadence is masterly. His fictional universe is filled with life, quiet truth and exquisite intimacy; it is also fully alert to the power and irony of history. In evoking Lilly Bere, he has created a most memorable character.”—Colm Tóibín, author of the Costa Novel Award winning Brooklyn

“A marvel of empathy and tact.” —Joseph O’Neill, author of the PEN / Faulkner Award winning novel Netherland

“Barry takes quiet lives, in this instance Lilly Bere’s, adds the backdrop of political turmoil in Ireland after WWI, couples it with the expanse of 21st-century America, and ends up with a story that is both epic and intimate…this masterful storyteller takes[s] your breath away, after taking your hand and walking you through these lives, creating attachment and empathy for his characters yet leaving you with joy; appreciating light from the dark. You are safe and satisfied and enriched by his writing.” — Roxanne Coady, Publisher's Weekly "Galley Talk"

“Somewhere on the second page of this book, your heart will break, and you will devour every glimmering image and poetic line as if the sheer act of reading might alter the course of Lilly Bere's haunting tale.  A story of love and loss, as Irish as the white heather and as big-hearted as America itself.” —Helen Simonson, author of the New York Times bestselling Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Selected by the Kansas City Star as a Best Book of the Year

“Sebastian Barry, one of Ireland’s most successful playwrights and novelists, is at his best when he is writing about those who find themselves marginalized in the new Ireland as it emerges from under the yoke of British. And in his new book, On Canaan’s Side, we once again find him dealing with characters whose lives are swept up in the changing tide of Ireland’s independence…As always with Barry, the language is beautiful. I had to slow myself down to savor the way he puts words together, for he is a master craftsman.” — Patricia, Harty Irish America

Harty Irish America
“Sebastian Barry, one of Ireland’s most successful playwrights and novelists, is at his best when he is writing about those who find themselves marginalized in the new Ireland as it emerges from under the yoke of British. And in his new book, On Canaan’s Side, we once again find him dealing with characters whose lives are swept up in the changing tide of Ireland’s independence…As always with Barry, the language is beautiful. I had to slow myself down to savor the way he puts words together, for he is a master craftsman.”
Allen Barra
“Sebastian Barry’s achievement, enhanced by his latest novel, On Canaan’s Side, may be too great to be defined by the Booker or any other literary prize. Barry, the greatest prose writer in Irish letters—which by definition makes him the greatest writer of prose in the English language…No other novelist now writing can convey as Barry does the way in which unrighted wrongs continue to reverberate down through the ages, creating new versions of old tragedies for people with no knowledge of their origins…On Canaan’s Side fits seamlessly into Barry’s unique and expanding vision, seeking to restore with language that which has been taken away by time. Its real subject isn’t politics or even history but memory, a memory which reveals that ‘a measure of tragedy is stitched into everything if you follow the thread long through.’”
Laura DeMarco
“Lilly Bere is exceptional. She frees herself from one homeland and takes root in another. Her story is as American as it is Irish…elegiac…this Dubliner’s portrayal of our city feels organic. From the East Ohio Gas explosion to a run-in with racism at Luna Park, he weaves a rich, authentic backdrop. His prose is roundabout and tender…It’s a testament to the power of Barry’s quietly elegant prose that her immigrant story seems so tragic and so real.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Richly detailed, often cinematic…This is no self-indulgent apologia, and Irish writer Sebastian Barry makes the fine distinction between sentiment and sentimentality with a deft hand...With all the quiet interiority and the equanimity with which events are recalled here, it’s easy to overlook how exciting those events were. The “plot” is full of surprises – many shocking. War, single parenthood, betrayal, unexpected acts of compassion, death too early – or in at least one case, too late – and race relations are all threads in the tapestry of Lilly’s life. Accommodations must be made at every turn and Lilly makes them, all the while maintaining her own moral poise. Deservedly short-listed twice previously for the Man Booker Prize, Barry in his current offering maintains, and at times exceeds, the high level of finely wrought empathy attained in those award nominees…And as in those two novels, the play of history as it most intimately affects individual lives in such an infinite variety of ways is on exquisitely touching display.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Sebastian Barry is a significant Irish writer and his new novel, set mainly in the United States, is a wonderful introduction to his work…The plot is beautifully crafted. Lilly’s wanderings…make the story seem episodic, but Barry knows exactly what he’s doing; the latter part of the novel has several convincing surprises.”
Milkwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“Gorgeously written.”
New York Journal of Books
“[A] compact but leisurely told narrative rich in mood and depth… On Canaan’s Side’s climactic pages glow with wonder and terror. They reach a catharsis of prose poetry as they mingle dramatically.”
Booklist
“Tripping, liquid prose that adroitly evokes everything from the smell of an Irish countryside to the heaviness of grief.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670022922
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/8/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Sebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. His plays include Boss Grady's Boys (1988), The Steward of Christendom (1995), Our Lady of Sligo (1998), The Pride of Parnell Street (2007), and Dallas Sweetman (2008). Among his novels are The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), Annie Dunne (2002) and A Long Long Way (2005), the latter shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His poetry includes The Water-Colourist (1982), Fanny Hawke Goes to the Mainland Forever (1989) and The Pinkening Boy (2005). His awards include the Irish-America Fund Literary Award, The Christopher Ewart-Biggs Prize, the London Critics Circle Award, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize, and Costa Awards for Best Novel and Book of the Year. He lives in Wicklow with his wife Ali, and three children, Merlin, Coral, and Tobias.

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
“We may be immune to typhoid, tetanus, chicken–pox, diphtheria, but never memory. There is no inoculation against that” (p. 83).

How much suffering can the human heart endure? At eighty–nine, Lilly Bere’s heart has experienced enough tragedy to truly test—and arguably surpass—its limits. Her beloved grandson, Bill, has just killed himself, and Lilly decides to follow suit. Yet she “cannot do such a terrible thing without explanation” (p. 7) and takes pen to paper to chronicle the events of her incredible life.

Lilly is the youngest child of James Patrick Dunne, chief superintendent of the Dublin Metropolitan Police under the British regime. Widowed at Lilly’s birth, James never remarries and raises his four children—including Annie, Maud, and Willie—on his own. Lilly adores her formidable father, but as she approaches adulthood and learns about the charged relationship between Irish nationalists and their British rulers, she soon realizes that many of their neighbors and countrymen view him as “the enemy of the new Ireland” (p. 42).

Lilly’s brother, Willie, further diminishes the family’s standing among Irish nationalists by enlisting to fight for the British during World War I. Like so many of his generation, Willie never returns from the trenches. Instead, Tadg Bere—Willie’s friend and fellow soldier—arrives in Dublin, lured by stories of Lilly’s beauty, and begins to woo her. Tadg and Lilly might have found happiness in another place and time, but jobs are scarce and the ex–soldier is compelled to take the only work available: policing with the despised Black and Tans, an auxiliary police unit employed to suppress revolution in Ireland. When the IRA issues death sentences upon them both, the young couple flees their homeland and boards a ship bound for America.

Virtually penniless upon reaching Chicago, Tadg tells Lilly, “We have each other . . . That will be our kingdom” (p. 61). Their American story is, however, not to end happily. Over the coming decades, Lilly is by turns a beggar, servant, beloved wife, struggling mother, and surrogate parent to her ill–fated grandson, Bill. When Lilly becomes too frail to work, her longtime employer, Mrs. Wolohan, beneficently grants her a rent–free cottage on the shores of Long Island. The Wolohans are a politically prominent family of Irish–Catholic heritage who recall the Kennedys and—like Lilly—are devastated by events beyond their control. Ostensibly, Lilly’s narrative is intended for Mrs. Wolohan and their novelist friend, Mr. Dillinger. But the seventeen days following Bill’s death allow Lilly finally to contemplate the vicissitudes that swept her up in some of the twentieth century’s greatest upheavals and strained her immense capacity for forgiveness.

ABOUT SEBASTIAN BARRY

Long–listed for the Man Booker Prize and winner of The Walter Scott Prize, On Canaan’s Side is Sebastian Barry’s fifth novel and his third sojourn with the Dunne family. In prose both exquisite and humane, one of our most esteemed writers introduces an extraordinary heroine—“a bird that . . . existed in an epic landscape” (p. 14)—in a tale that is genuinely vast and heartbreaking.

A CONVERSATION WITH SEBASTIAN BARRY

Q. You first introduced Thomas Dunne—a character very similar to James Patrick Dunne—in your play The Steward of Christendom. Thomas Dunne was based on your great–grandfather, who was, in fact, named James Dunne. Would you say that your writing is driven by a desire to understand your family’s past and their place in history? How much of your work is autobiographical?

I suppose the first impulse was to try to solve a disorientation I felt myself as a person in my own country. But the second was purely novelistic: here was a group of people not much discussed by their own descendants, for various reasons, sometimes just the ordinary forgetfulness we all are subject to when we die, but also for other complicated political reasons, and religious. And in being unmentioned, naturally the true histories of these people fall gradually away. But a novelist can come and try to retrieve them, even if only by largely making them up. If you do it long enough, the difficulty is to try to remember what you invented and what was actually real. Given that the real is a slippery fish to begin with.

My books could be said to be autobiographical in that I often give my characters things from my own experiences, making them their experiences, if for no other reason than that this is often the only thing I have to give them. So that Thomas Dunne’s childhood in the play The Steward of Christendom is largely my own, in the same place but a very different time.

Q. This novel encompasses Ireland’s Troubles, but also America’s Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam and Gulf wars. Were you ever intimidated by the scope of what you set out to narrate in this novel? What sparked you to engage with so many important moments in the twentieth century?

Writing a book is always, well, not quite intimidating, perhaps overwhelming is the word. The big wave of the unwritten book stands over you as if poised to fall. You have to find a way to surf that wave but at the same time to describe it in all its mathematical complexity—on the wing, as it were. Oddly enough, the pins of history in the novel, such as the Dust Bowl, helped me greatly, rather than hindered, because the other challenge in writing a book set over a lifetime is knowing not only where the character is, but also where you are in the making of the landscape. Nothing exists till you write it down! The Vietnam War, which is a smallish part of the book in a way, was the war my generation in Ireland “experienced” one way or another, but of course didn’t experience, because we were far away in Ireland, picking up only the signals and traces of its hardships, tragedies, and terrible ambiguities. I hitched around the United States when I was seventeen, and in every little town were those young men at street corners, veterans of a war, and yet little older than myself. I have never forgotten them. I would say that anything mentioned in the book, the American things, are the things I have thought about for a long, long time—heart things. It was a sort of unexpected if secret pleasure to be, temporarily, unofficially and no doubt dubiously, an American writer for a while, in that sense.

Q. Tadg and Lilly visit the Art Institute of Chicago, “where for nothing at all, not two cents asked, you could see room after room of paintings, windows of beauty, he called them” (p. 73). Do you view novels in a similar way? How, if at all, does visual art inspire your writing?

The scene that happens there in the novel was, for me anyway, a crucial one. I had to go to the trouble of writing it from the shooter’s point of view, in a little radio play called A Play with Two Joes in it. I had the same experience looking at the Van Gogh painting myself—just a sense of the artist’s continuing presence near his painting. And because Tadg thinks he looks like the painting, he is stilled by it, and his attention is claimed by it. A novel is a whole world, and it is invented very like a painter invents a picture, or series of pictures. If you learn to paint, as I did myself as a young man under the guidance of my painter grandfather, you have to understand that what you mark on the paper will only make visual sense when the viewer is standing some six or ten feet from the painting. So the close–in work is not the actual painting, but the marks that will suggest the painting in the viewer’s mind. This is quite useful for writing, or rather rewriting. Many details may be interesting in themselves, but have to be taken away, because in the end they muddle or distort the actual picture itself.

Q. Mrs. Wolohan’s mother—a third–generation Irish woman—hires Lilly because she wants an Irish cook. Lilly writes, “people love Ireland because they can never know it, like a partner in a successful marriage” (p. 127). Why do you think it is that Irish Americans, in general, feel such strong ties to their homeland?

Why do Irish people feel such a bond with Ireland? Why do Americans feel their bond with America? There is an Irish saying, “The calf returns to where it got the milk.” Love of country is somewhat inexplicable and maybe even unavoidable! But yes, then there is the bond that immigrants, or the descendants of immigrants, feel for the country they left behind. The bond between an Irish American and Ireland is I think a very complicated, sometimes mysterious, thing. It may depend on when their ancestors left, maybe during the famine, or during the period after independence in the 1920s—half a million left Ireland during the fifties and sixties, for instance. Considering the traumas involved, considering the actual country they left, it is really remarkable, and in the final analysis admirable, that this love of Ireland dominates the Irish American memory.

Q. After Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mrs. Wolohan’s unnamed brother are assassinated in 1968, “Ed said it was the death of hope, and many people said that too, everywhere you went” (p. 204). As a young person in Ireland, how did the cause of Dr. King and the news of his death affect you? Do you believe the feeling of despair from the shooting’s aftermath still lingers?

It is a truism that everyone remembers when John F. Kennedy was shot. I was a little boy in London, where my father had sought work. I came home from school and my sister was weeping. She was I think six and had maybe never heard of JFK. I was four. I was soon weeping myself. The sequence of ferocious murders that happened in America during the sixties had effects that touched everywhere. Sometimes you have to ask, how could that have been? How could the best hearts alive in that time, from Evers to Dr. King and beyond, have been murdered? Who thought that was a good idea? What caused it? What is the shape of human hope now, after it has been so assailed? What alteration was made in the very DNA of hope and has it been altered back? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was so blatantly a good man, clearly one of the best men that ever lived. To eradicate that goodness, which was a gift to the earth and so utterly essential to the age—what sort of impulse was that? Where does that impulse reside now?

Q. Twice in the novel, a volume of Homer is given as a gift. What affinity do you feel to this early storyteller? Is Lilly an Odysseus figure?

An earlier novel, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, was very, very loosely modeled on The Aeneid by Virgil, which I read while studying Latin at Trinity College Dublin. It of course was written as a sort of founding myth for Rome. Homer did the same for Greece, or rather his work was used for that. I didn’t take Greek at college, so all my Greek reading, such as it was, was done through English. The handing of a book from one person to another always seems to me to have magical properties. You don’t give a book of no value to yourself. The book you chose also in some way represents how you feel about the person you are giving it to. By giving Lilly this book, the finest book ever written, Mr. Dillinger is expressing his respect for her, just as Mr. Eugenides does the same by giving the book to Bill, although in that instance it is also being given as a talisman against hurt and danger in war. Of course, Lilly, like Eneas and his namesake Aeneas, is a wanderer, but unlike Odysseus there is no question of her ever being able to return home.

Q. On Canaan’s Side is your third chronicle of the Dunne family. Between Annie Dunne, A Long, Long Way, and On Canaan’s Side, which novel do you feel closest to? Would it be wrong to expect Maud’s story next? Or are you working on something entirely different now?

Maud was my actual grandmother, and strangely enough I have never had much of a fix on her in my imagination. She died when I was two. When I was born, though, my mother was unwell, and I was given to Maud for the first six weeks, so she must have been the first person I bonded with. This occurred to me only recently. A sort of lost mother, as well as a grandmother. I don’t know if I will ever be able to write a book about her, or for her. But I still have a couple of these odd family books to write, I suspect. The other two novels already written are about the McNultys, which would be the other side of the family, as they say. For symmetry if nothing else I might have to go back to them.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Most of Mr. Dillinger’s family died in Dachau. Why do you think Barry chooses to contrast this information with Lilly’s more recent tragedy?
  • When the Dunnes are moving into Dublin Castle, Lilly contemplates “the Wicklow lighthouse when at last it turns in its great arc towards you. What use was the lighthouse’s light to those on land, I never knew” (p. 19). What does the lighthouse symbolize?
  • Besides his own image, what is it that Tadg sees in Van Gogh’s self–portrait?
  • Did Cassie suspect Joe’s secret? If she had, would she have approved of his relationship with Lilly?
  • As Lilly and Joe drive past the Bellows’ house, Joe says, “the past is a crying child, that’s for sure . . . but it will all be made up to him in the coming times” (p. 141). How do you read his statement in light of later events?
  • Why do you think Barry includes the story of Mr. Dillinger’s visit to China?
  • Why is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination more poignant because it’s “on Canaan’s side itself” (p. 203)? How does the novel’s title affect the way you read the events it relates?
  • Do you think that Lilly will go through with her plan to kill herself? How would you feel if she did or if she didn’t?
  • On Canaan’s Side interweaves Lilly’s deeply personal story with major historical events. How did this narrative technique affect your reading of the novel as well as your understanding of the twentieth century as a whole?
  • Have you read Annie Dunne or A Long, Long Way? How does this novel fit into that trilogy? If you haven’t already, are you compelled to learn the rest of the Dunnes’ story?
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 10, 2011

    well written

    an enjoyable read,well written, moves quickly

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2013

    thin, but precious

    An old Irish woman's musings on her life, both in Ireland and then the U.S. = beautifully written.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 11, 2013

    Superb writing.

    This is an enthralling story portraying an incredible life filled with hope, sadness, and joy. Some paragraphs are so breathtaking they require immediate rereading. It is my first Sebastian Barry book, but not my last. Wonderful.

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    Posted September 13, 2011

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