Sebastian Barry: The Secret Scripture

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A superbly crafted novel told in under 300 pages A story so cleverly written that for half of the Novel I believed I was reading a non fiction account image Rosanne Mc Nulty is nearing her hundredth birthday in the mental hospital wher Fare thee well sweet Anna Liffy I can no longer stay And watch me new glass cages that spring up along me Ouay My mind s too full of memories too old to hear new chimes l m a part of what was Dublin in the rare ould times Dublin in the Rare Ould Times Dublin City Ramblers Songwriters Pete St John for the Dublin City Ramblers Roseanne s Testimony of Herself Patient Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital 1957 The world begins anew with every birth my father used to say He forgot to say with every death it ends Or did not think he needed to Because for a goodly part of his life he worked in a graveyard The terror and hurt in my story happened because when I was oung I thought others were the authors of my fortune or misfortune I did not know that a person could hold up a wall made of imaginary bricks and mortar against the horrors and cruel dark tricks of time that assail us and be the author therefore of themselves I am an old old woman now I may be as much as a hundred though I do not know and no one knows I am only a thing left over a remnant woman and I do not even look like a human being no but a scraggy stretch of skin and bone in a bleak skirt and blouse and a canvas jacket and I sit here in my niche like a songless robin no like a mouse that died under the hearthstone where it was warm and lies now like a mummy in the pyramids Roseanne McNulty has lived at the Roscommon Regional Mental hospital Myself and Other More Important Matters years of her adult life than not she sits and waits but not impatiently for whatever end awaits In those hours she writes the story of her life in the hopes that after she s gone someone will believe the truth of her words finallyHer psychiatrist Dr Grene keeps his own journal Dr Grene s Commonplace Book Senior Psychiatrist Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital He contemplates the decline of the building that houses these patients and of the need to move to a newer building and his views on Roseanne with the new hospital not being large enough to house all of their current patients He wants to make the best decision for her in her remaining time Those patients who he feels were unfairly committed can will be let go as there are fewer rooms in the new facility It s through their journals that their stories emerge a story of thoseears that make up Roseanne s life how she came to be a patient in this place but also a story of Ireland Of the times Ignorance War Conflict Love Passion Family Loss Grief Religion About memories and how our lives are built around them and how they can come to haunt us Perhaps sometimes they can save us as wellThis tale unravel slowly as tales of a lifetime are wont to do meandering a bit here and there through time and place through the morals of the time and the music ah Downhill Slide yes the music the places and people It is a poignant one her memories of her life with her father as a child through her teenageears her marriage and on through the point where the whole story of Roseanne s life finally comes to the surface and we know her truthLast fall I read Barry s Days Without End and loved it loved how beautifully written it was Another beautiful contemplative novel by this author I am already looking forward to reading of his works but first I just want to dwell in this lovely moment and contemplate or as my grandfather used to say sit a spell and ponder Recommended A wonderful poetic book about love and memory Also pain and loss and how Capital Cities/Abc, The Early Years, 1954 1986 you can miss the most important thing in the world even though it s right underour nose Ireland too of courseWe re all innocent Roseanne locked up in an asylum for decades for no reason or because she happened to be born with the wrong religion or because the jealous people around her find her beauty too disturbing She never really knows why but she manages For history as far as I can see is not the arrangement of what happens in seuence and in truth but a fabulous arrangement of surmises and guesses held up as a banner against the assault of withering truthThe Secret Scripture is a sublime work of fiction about memory and its effect on history and truth It s about love and loss grief religion and Ireland It nearly broke my heart but left me with a glimpse of joy and hope It s a slow unraveling of the mystery surrounding the reason why Roseanne McNulty has been institutionalized at the Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital for the past sixty Audrey Hepburn years of her nearly one hundredears of life Her story is gradually revealed through her own narrative as recorded in a hidden journal as well as through inuiries made by Dr Grene the psychiatrist charged with her care Roscommon is slated to shut down and Dr Grene must determine which patients if any were wrongfully committed for reasons other than mental instability The point of view alternates between Roseanne s voice and that of Dr Grene What Roseanne tells us and what Dr Grene uncovers from old documents are two different versions of the truth Dr Grene must determine which to believe and how these stories ultimately matter in his own decision regarding Roseanne s fate in her old age The one thing that is fatal in the reading of impromptu history is a wrongful desire for accuracy There is no such thingRoseanne s story is a tragic one and my heart ached for this gentle soul left abandoned due to the ignorance and prejudices of other human beings A Protestant in a country ravaged by civil war Roseanne is a victim of the power of the Irish Catholic Church in the early 1900s Father Gaun. Nearing her one hundredth birthday Roseanne McNulty faces an uncertain future as the Roscommon Regional Mental hospital where she's spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure Over the weeks leading up to this upheav.

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T is a symbol of the perversion of the influences of the church at that time over the lives and the moral judgments of those in its path Morality has its own civil wars with its own victims in their own time and place The story is told slowly and is one to be read with uiet contemplation allowing Sebastian Barry s extraordinary prose to wash over and captivate Silent Seduction you I closed the book with a feeling of absolute contentment despite the grim journey I will no doubt read of this author s work and am in fact anxious to do so I highly recommend this five star book There are things that move at a human pace before our eyes but other things move in arcs so great they are as good as invisible Areou an honest person TrulyPerhaps Wo Milch und Honig flie├čen you instinctively think Yes even asou realise The Scarecrows you are not always scrupulously so often for the best of reasons Often But not always One can t be totally honest all the time can one Can oneWhat is truth anyway but a social construct What s wrong about her account if she sincerely believes it There is no factual truth It matters that the person is admirable living and complete what a curious trio of adjectivesIn a post truth era on a big day for possibly fake news a euphemism for lies and propaganda our collective ability to recognise truth slips ever further from our grasp StoriesThis is stories of centenarian Roseanne s lives The tides of two world wars and a civil war bring opportunity fear birth death deceit despair and change crashing crushing on the shores of Sligo She s approaching her 100th birthday and has been in asylums for around seventyears Dr Grene has to gently uncover Roseanne s story to see if she should move to a new smaller institution or if the truth will set her free for care in the community a term he knows is inaccurate This isn t really about madness versus sanity though it s an issue for many characters or even incarceration It s about telling stories to hide the truth as well as to reveal it Roseanne and Dr Grene are both writing accounts of the past especially Roseanne s past in part to avoid considering the future Each is unaware the other is doing so The reader experiences layers of contradiction distance and distortion from the passage of time deep trauma and efforts to protect from shame or guiltAnd then there is a third written testimony from Fr Gaunt and remnants of official records A little apocryphal gospel which readers get second hand via Dr Grene and which are further muddied when the doctor realises he s filling in gaps that Fr Gaunt did not Another layer of embroideryAnd what about the unknown hand who brought all the narratives together How do we untangle the truth Which version of the tower and feathers and hammers is true Could it even be bothWhy are they writingNo plot spoilers just background notes and detail view spoiler Roseanne wants an honest minded history of myself because My secrets are my fortune and my sanity She has experienced the dire conseuences of gossip and presumption than once so There must be accuracy and rightness Dr Grene s writing is an extension of his work a distraction from personal loss and a sign of ongoing inner life that triggers ideas and insight Fr Gaunt s desire to tell the story illuminates it He is unburdening himself as he might a sin A person without stories that outlive them becomes lost to family lost to history sad black names on within family trees with half a date dangling after and a uestion mark Roseanne s father relished telling stories from his life but mother is singularly without stories and eventually mute She vanishes from the story hide spoiler Rose McNultry is almost 100 Circles in the Dust years old For most of her life she has been a patient in Roscommon Mental hospital in rural west Ireland This mad woman has lived here most of her adult life The hospital is going to be shut down and she is facing a scary future of being moved from where she has lived most of her life She has freuent talks with her therapistpsychiatrist in the weeks leading up to the hospital s closure Her therapists job is to determine what to do with the patients left behind He needs to determine who is of sound mind but institutionalized against their will and who is mentally ill This also asks the uestion ifou are sane when Death in a Serene City you are institutionalized will this prolonged treatment renderou insaneRose has been keeping a journal of her life which she keeps hidden under the floorboards of her room She only takes her journals out when it is safe It is through her journal entries that we learn about her past Her relationship with her parents she had a loving father and a mother who distances herself from her daughter Rose falls in love with a A Runaway World? young Man who has a domineering Mother who does not approve of her Catholic son being with a Presbyterianoung woman Father Gaunt makes sure that Rose does not marry the The Queens Necklace young man she is in love with The priest s misogyny mistrust and dislike for women is Rose s downfall Ireland s history comes into play as does the Catholic church who puts away those are different who are sexual or deemed loose A priest s word is law back then and troublemakers are removed from society As a result tragedy cruel treatment and prejudice ensuesI enjoyed how the story went back and forth telling Rose s story then and her story now For some reason the jumping back and forth between decades made Rose s story sad poignant I could feel her loneliness and pain I unlike Rose would have been mad as hell at having been locked up all thoseears I would have raged and fought She chose the path of forgiveness She is a survivor There is something uite beautiful in her ability to sit with her loss and loneliness and forgive those. Al she talks often with her psychiatrist Dr Grene and their relationship intensifies and complicatesTold through their respective journals the story that emerges is at once shocking and deeply beautiful Refracted through the haze

Who have wronged her This book is beautifully written It s a big book with a lot of heart It has a very poetic and Gothic feel to it For some reason while reading this book I thought of other Gothic books such as Jane Eyre These books are not the same and do not have similar story lines but they do both have a lot of atmosphere and have the same type of dreary feel to themSee of my reviews at wwwopenbookpostcom Sexuality in beautiful The Literary Conference young women in backward societies is a double edged sword On the one hand it attractsoung men sometimes into marriage and on the other it can seem to justify the accusation of being called a slut And should the woman have a baby outside marriage then the accusation is proved and the girl condemned and if punishment follows it will be considered validatedIt s not much different today is it Call a girl a slut and people look at her askance Not a nice person not someone ou d want to mix with But today the punishment is generally only social exclusion from hypocritical social groups Back then in the time of this book after the Civil War in Ireland it could mean being locked up in mental home for the rest of their livesAnd now the girl the woman the old lady who is a century old is telling her tale to her doctor He is a gentle understanding unfulfilled man who is doing his best for his patients who now these old institutions are being dissolved must re enter the world or adapt to a modern mental homeHe listens to Roseanne s story he asks people about her and discovers a document that tells a different story from her conversation But there is still another story the one she is writing of her life and hiding in the floorboards These stories and the doctor s intertwine and they both learn far about each other than they ever could have suspected It s uite an eye opening ending and in retrospect that is what the story is leading to all along but I found it too pat I thought the story of Roseanne and the Troubles with all the violence and wickedness of those timeswere good enough to stand on their own without a contrived conclusion So 4 stars 45 stars Ok I really enjoyed it 5 stars Last month my book club read Sebastian Barry s Days Without End and we all loved it unconditionally That almost never happens So our hostess up for the April read decided to assign another of Barry s books although she had some reservations that it might compare unfavorably to the one we thought so highly of How can it possibly be as good she askedShe needn t have worried because it was as good but in a different way The language was still soaring and poetic the characters just as soulful and the story What a storyThe tale is told through two journals one by the psychiatrist needing to assess an elderly patient before the insane asylum she has been in for 60 ears is demolished and the other by the patient herself 100 ear old Roseanne Clear or McNulty depending on whose story can be believed There is also a brief deposition by the Catholic priest responsible for her incarceration and for many of her woes and I sincerely hope there is a special place in Hell reserved for himThis is a multi layered novel with little bits of truth and understanding poking through every once in a while Even so I had to read the climax four times just to believe it I still get chills thinking about itEven though the setting is from 1907 2007 it reads like a Victorian novel maybe because of the handwritten journals and the Irish localesThis was a complete departure from some of my other recent reading and I was completely swept up in the story So much so that I continue to wish Father Gaunt consigned to that special place in Hell A gem of a book beautiful story beautifully written I recommend this one to my friends I was first introduced to Sebastian Barry with Days Without End published in 2016 and winner of the Costa Book Award and a Booker nominee Days Without End hit me like a ton of bricksso fabulously written and such a tale Did I ever imagine that another of his books could become so beloved Well the Secret Scripture has But it also made me REAL ANGRYSet after the Irish Civil War Roseanne Clear McNulty is about to turn 100 ears old and wants to tell her story Roseanne has spent most of her adult life confined to a psychiatric hospital in Ireland under tragic circumstances She is the victim of Father Gaunt the Irish Catholic priest of her village Condemned for only talking to another man other than her new husband the priest has made her out to be an adulteress and she looses everything Father Gaunt represents everything I hate about the Catholic Church The power priests in Ireland had over women the abuse the repression of sexuality and its people As a non practicing Irish Catholic I get so angry and disturbed by these fanatics I hate shelf righteous religious people always black or white always their way as there is no other Their opinion is the only one that exists I understand this so well as I was brought up in a born again Catholic family Sebastian Barry tells this heart wrenching story so well The Secret Scripture which also won the 2008 Costa Award and Booker Prize nomination is beautifully written and so poetic The ending was uite unexpected I listened to the audio as the narrator s brogue is so delightful Barry an Irish playwright novelist and poet has become one of my favorite authors Recently he took over the title of Irish Poet Laureate from Anne Enwright another of Ireland s fabulous authorsIf ou are interested in the troubled history of Ireland the Catholic Church s repression of their society or just reading a novel by one of the finest authors living don t missHighly recommend5 out of 5 stars. F memory and retelling Roseanne's story becomes an alternative secret history of Ireland's changing character and the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance and et marked still by love and passion and hope.

Sebastian Barry is an Irish playwright novelist and poet He is noted for his dense literary writing style and is considered one of Ireland's finest writersBarry's literary career began in poetry before he began writing plays and novels In recent years his fiction writing has surpassed his work in the theatre in terms of success having once been considered a playwright who wrote occasional nove