The Secret Scripture: A Novel

( 49 )

Overview

An epic story of family, love, and unavoidable tragedy from the two-time Man Booker Prize finalist

Sebastian Barry 's novels have been hugely admired by readers and critics, and in 2005 his novel A Long Long Way was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In The Secret Scripture, Barry revisits County Sligo, Ireland, the setting for his previous three books, to tell the unforgettable story of Roseanne McNulty. Once one of the most beguiling women in Sligo, she is now a resident of...

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The Secret Scripture

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Overview

An epic story of family, love, and unavoidable tragedy from the two-time Man Booker Prize finalist

Sebastian Barry 's novels have been hugely admired by readers and critics, and in 2005 his novel A Long Long Way was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In The Secret Scripture, Barry revisits County Sligo, Ireland, the setting for his previous three books, to tell the unforgettable story of Roseanne McNulty. Once one of the most beguiling women in Sligo, she is now a resident of Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital and nearing her hundredth year. Set against an Ireland besieged by conflict, The Secret Scripture is an engrossing tale of one woman's life, and a vivid reminder of the stranglehold that the Catholic church had on individuals throughout much of the twentieth century.

Soon to be a film starring Jessica Chastain and Vanessa Redgrave.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
" [Barry writes] in language of surpassing beauty. . . . It is like a song, with all the pulse of the Irish language, a song sung liltingly and plaintively from the top of Ben Bulben into the airy night."
-Dinitia Smith, The New York Times

" Barry recounts all this in prose of often startling beauty. Just as he describes people stopping in the street to look at Roseanne, so I often found myself stopping to look at the sentences he gave her, wanting to pause and copy them down."
-Margot Livesey, The Boston Globe

"Luminous and lyrical."
-O, The Oprah Magazine

From the Publisher
" [Barry writes] in language of surpassing beauty. . . . It is like a song, with all the pulse of the Irish language, a song sung liltingly and plaintively from the top of Ben Bulben into the airy night."
-Dinitia Smith, The New York Times

" Barry recounts all this in prose of often startling beauty. Just as he describes people stopping in the street to look at Roseanne, so I often found myself stopping to look at the sentences he gave her, wanting to pause and copy them down."
-Margot Livesey, The Boston Globe

"Luminous and lyrical."
-O, The Oprah Magazine

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143115694
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 152,401
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.70 (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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 49 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 49 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 15, 2008

    Booker Award Finalist!

    This is the haunting story of an elderly woman who has lived quietly in a mental hospital for many years. The resident doctor becomes interested in her case and digs up her history in an attempt to decide if she really is insane. <BR/>This book has been short listed for the Booker award and it¿s easy to see why. Lyrical prose combined with a captivating plot make for a book I couldn't put down. Above all I loved the pacing, the book starts out slowly, all about the beautiful writing, and then the plot takes over, building to a big climax. <BR/>I listened to the audio version of this. Wanda McCaddon's Irish accent really added to the atmosphere and context of the story. She does an especially impressive job with elderly Roseanne's voice versus young Roseanne's voice. I highly recommend listening to this one!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Winner Irish Fiction 2009- literary book

    Book Review of The Secret Scripture by Annette Dunlea
    This book is now available in paperback, published by Faber and Faber and its ISBN is: 0571215297. It was short listed for the man Booker Prize 2008 and won the Costa Book of The Year 2008. It is literary Irish fiction at its best. It records the past dominance of church in secular relations and the maltreatment of women in the hands of men. The story is heard in two voices the elderly Roseanne Mc Nulty a patient and Dr.Greene a psychiatrist. Roseanne is a very old woman who records her secret history in her secret journal and in vivid poetic prose. The doctor is forced to re-evaluate his patients in the asylum and see if they can be released into the community, therein lies the plot of the tale. Our purpose is to discover the reason for Roseanne's admission and in doing so we get a history of Irish life in Sligo in 1930. Dr. Greene too records his interviews with Roseanne. His voice is in a different more modern tone to hers. He is an independent impartial observer to her tale. Gentle not to upset her he teases information from her and so we are left to discover the truth for ourselves. The paradox of the imperfection of human memory as opposed to the factual written word is show here. She develops a wonderful relationship with the doctor based on empathy. He too is grieving the death of his wife and his own imperfection as being the ultimate healer. Roseanne was a beauty in her day living on the outskirts of society who has been maltreated by her community. By recording her tale she gives a voice to the woman who was institutionalized by priests and by society unjustly. In recording her annals she healed herself. She is not so much a victim as a survivor. While some were dismayed by the ending I enjoyed the novel for me it is a wonderful tale on compassionate, love, life and on human inter relations. It is story telling and dialogue at its best. What he records is important but equally so is his eloquent language.

    Reviewed by Annette Dunlea author of Always and Forever and The Honey Trap

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 15, 2012

    The most beautiful and poetic prose. A story that will not leave

    The most beautiful and poetic prose. A story that will not leave you soon

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The walls of an asylum might hide many secrets, but Dr. Grene┬┐s

    The walls of an asylum might hide many secrets, but Dr. Grene’s interests are fixed on elderly Roseanne McNulty as the ancient asylum’s threatened with closure. Why was she left here? What was her crime or her insanity? And how will she cope in the outside world?

    Roseanne hides her secrets in a diary in Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Keeper. Meanwhile her doctor keeps secrets of his own, and both tell their lives from their own point of view, adding their own interpretations to events. When the stories start to collide and combine, their mysteries slip through the cracks and hints of deeper truths appear.

    Father Gaunt has written the truth he claims, but he might be as unreliable in his records as poor old Roseanne is in her written recollections. Feathers and cannon balls fall from a tower, symbols of the different paths of different points of view. And the fog of Sligo finally clears to reveal a tortured truth.

    The characters’ voices are beautifully and consistently portrayed in this novel. The points of view are vividly real. And the promise of hope stays alight throughout the tale. My only complaint would be that I guessed the conclusion too soon, but it couldn’t stop me reading—couldn’t tear me away from the characters.

    An enjoyable novel, evocative, haunting, and hopeful in spite of its dark themes, this one is highly recommended.

    Disclosure: My sister-in-law loaned me this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2009

    A thoughtful read

    Sebastian Barry's language is so full, it made me want to write some of it down and also to go back and read it again...as soon as I finished the book. I did not but only because I want to wait and savor it all one more time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2008

    The synopsis sums it up

    The synopsis is better and more interesting than the actual book. It pretty much told you the whole story. I just couldn't get into the book. I tried reading the middle and end to see if it interests me enough and I will start reading from the beginning but it didn't.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    Great

    Cant imagine how anyone couldnt like this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2012

    Deep, dark, depressing with a twist at the end

    This was a pick of my book club. It was good; not the best book I have ever read. The story itself was dark and depressing. The end contained a twist I absolutely did not see coming, which was fun. The writing itself was very good....descriptive and beautiful if somewhat rambling at times. Not a book I would have finished had it not been for the book club, but I am glad I did. It has sparked an interest in Irish history for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2011

    Could not be more uninteresting

    I always finish a book no matter how bad or slow - until this book. I couldn't even make it 1/2 way through it. It is horribly boring. There didn't seem any point to it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2009

    Fantastic story

    The writing is poetic, it is a book you absolutely cannot skim. Read every word. This is the first book I've read by this author and I will definitely read the rest of his work.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 49 Customer Reviews

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