Thursday, March 22, 2012

BOOK: On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry

On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry, 255 pages

Ireland Reading Challenge; Booker longlist 2011

Summary (taken from librarything)
The narrator is 89-year-old Lily Bere. Over seventeen days after the death of her grandson, she recounts the major events of her life beginning with her childhood in Ireland and continuing through her adulthood in America.

 "To remember sometimes, is a great sorrow. But when the remembering has been done, there comes afterwards a very curious peacefulness—because you have planted your flag on the summit of the sorrow, you have climbed it. And I notice again in the writing of this confession that there is nothing called "long ago" after all. When things are summoned up, it is all present time, pure and simple. So that much to my surprise, people I have loved are allowed to live again." —Fifteenth Day Without Bill

I finished this one at the beginning of March and I liked it. It was relatively short, and the chapters were labelled One Day Without Bill, all the way to Seventeenth Day Without Bill; as Lily deals with her present day grief, she is drawn to her past and how she ended up where she did. The back and forth, between present and past, is an often used technique in these looking back remembrance-type books which is why I am somewhat mixing this book up with The Sense of an Ending. There were some good surprise reveals that Lily didn't give away until later in her story. Some were a bit predictable but Barry's novels are more about the writing, not the plot.

If you like beautiful writing, stories of immigrants to the US, stories from Ireland and the troubles, remembrances of a sad life, or Booker nominees, you will enjoy Barry's latest effort.

I reviewed Barry's previous book, The Secret Scripture here.

Also reviewed On Canaan's Side: the Book Trunk;  lizzysidal at lizzy's literary life;