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Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as "the finest book to come out of Europe this year," The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty is acclaimed Irish playwright Sebastian Barry's lyrical tale of a fugitive everyman. For Eneas McNulty, a happy, innocent childhood in County Sligo in the early 1900s gives way to an Ireland wracked by violence and conflict. Unable to find work in thHailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as "the finest book to come out of Europe this year," The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty is acclaimed Irish playwright Sebastian Barry's lyrical tale of a fugitive everyman. For Eneas McNulty, a happy, innocent childhood in County Sligo in the early 1900s gives way to an Ireland wracked by violence and conflict. Unable to find work in the depressed times after World War I, Eneas joins the British-led police force, the Royal Irish Constabulary—a decision that alters the course of his life. Branded a traitor by Irish nationalists and pursued by IRA hitmen, Eneas is forced to flee his homeland, his family, and Viv, the woman he loves. His wandering terminates on the Isle of Dogs, a haven for sailors, where a lifetime of loss is redeemed by a final act of generosity. The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty is the story of a lost man and a compelling saga that illuminates Ireland's complex history....

Title : The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140280180
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty Reviews

  • ·Karen·
    2019-04-05 18:08

    Sure and it's the voice that does it here, takes you by the hand and worrits you away to lands beyond the sea and a life lived headless and heedless of consequences. That Eneas fellah, he's a great chap, you know, a grand lad, but you cannae deny, if his brains were dynamite he wouldnae be able to blow his own hat off. What's he doing taking a job with the feckin' Royal Irish Constabulary? Would you not know that that was bound to end badly? Sure enough. Sure enough.Aye.

  • Teresa
    2019-04-18 21:52

    A beautifully written book that seems as if it could only be about an Irishman, a man from a divided area who through no fault of his own is put on a 'side', yet the particulars of time and place are transcended with universal themes: the call of home and family, true friendship, loneliness (the raw, pure, hurting kind), and one's place in the world and beyond the world.Paradoxically, seeing Irish history through the eyes of this naive, confused, apolitical man helped me understand its complexity probably more than any other book or movie I've read or seen on the subject.

  • Julie
    2019-04-08 16:05

    I can think of no better review for this book than Bruce Springsteen's Something In The Night for it is, truly, Eneas McNulty's life, from beginning to end. ....You're born with nothing, and better off that way, Soon as you've got something they send someone to try and take it away, You can ride this road 'till dawn, without another human being in sight, Just kids wasted on something in the night. Nothing is forgotten or forgiven, when it's your last time around, I got stuff running 'round my head That I just can't live down. When we found the things we loved, They were crushed and dying in the dirt. We tried to pick up the pieces, And get away without getting hurt, But they caught us at the state line, And burned our cars in one last fight, And left us running burned and blind, Chasing something in the night.This novel devastates me in the same way this song always has: to ever be a wanderer in this world, by nature of birth, of accident, of fate. And to know that every mistake, no matter how small or insignificant will always count against you, even to yourself. Not only does the world not forgive, but you can't begin to forgive yourself. ... nothing is forgotten or forgiven, when it's your last time around ...Even if you're not a Springsteen fan, do yourself a favour and listen to this version:

  • Gearóid
    2019-04-20 18:49

    Really enjoyed this book in lots of different ways.I think I have read most of Sebastian Barry's booksand liked them all.His prose is really almost poetic at times.I found myself re-reading a lot of sentences as theywere so beautifully put together.Also his characters talk in the accent or voice of thepeople of Sligo in the West of Ireland which is nearlymusical at times.The historical times the story is set in is during theEaster Rising,The Irish Civil War and the First WorldWar.The author really brings the history alive andit is very moving and emotive.I wish in school instead of reading dry history booksabout these time we could have read Sebastian Barry'sbooks.Highly recommend this book!

  • Dem
    2019-03-21 16:41

    The whereabouts of Eneas McNulty by Sebastian Barry is the fourth book by Sebastian Barry that I have read.Following the end of the First World War, Eneas McNulty joins the British-led Royal Irish Constabulary. With all those around him becoming soldiers of a different kind, it proves to be the defining decision of his life when having witnessed the further of a fellow RIC Policeman he is wrongly accused of identifying the executioners. With a sentence of death passed over him he is forced to flee Sligo, his family and friends.The writing is wonderful and vibrant and his use of elegant prose while beautiful becomes a little overpowering as I felt the plot lost out to the prose in certain paragraphs. I did enjoy the characters and while I found sections of the story moving and exciting I thought the author failed to elaborate and take advantage of the readers interest and emotions in these situations and I was left wanting.If I had not been up to date on Irish history I would have been quite lost reading this novel. There are similarities between the whereabouts of Eneas McNulty and The Secret Scripture. The Character of Roseanne comes into play in both novels which I really found intriguing. I really loved Barry's The Secret Scriptureand one of favourite books by this author is A Long Long Way a novel that has all the elements of great historical fiction as the writing is superb and the historical content and plot are excellent.The whereabouts of Eneas McNulty is a worthwhile read but pales in comparision with the authors other novels.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-25 21:49

    I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as The Secret Scripture, and I'm glad I read that first because if I'd read this first I wouldn't have bothered with the other. However, I think this is a writer who is gaining in mastery and elegance with successive books, rather than churning them out for the sake of word count.I won't recount the plot here, but I will comment that part of the reason I wanted to read this was to get a different view of Roseanne Clear, the main character in The Secret Scripture. And what a different view it is. Identical events simply do not match up across the two books; and given that The Secret Scripture was so focused on the unreliability of memory and history and personal slant, it made sense anyway. And gave the reader a lot to think about. What really did happen?The voice of this narrative gives the curious effect of being told in an Irish accent and I found it a bit tedious after a while. Still, very readable and often moving.

  • Molly
    2019-04-13 22:53

    Cast off from his beloved Irish town for "unpatriotic" deeds that were never cast in any such light for him, Eneas McNulty embarks on a life both stunningly eventful and surprisingly not. The heartbreaking accidents of what happens to him and how he gets by and what happens when he does venture home to see his beloved Mam and Pap sent me hurtling through the book, staying up much later than I should have at night. But it's the language, my God, that took it over the edge. Sebastian Barry can WRITE. I have an old hardcover copy of the book and I love Frank McCourt's comment, which floats along the bottom of the page: "Sebastian Barry is a minstrel of a novelist. He could stand at any street corner in the English-speaking world and chant his book, and his hat would overflow in to time with dollars, punts, pounds..." Hear, hear.

  • Tiffany
    2019-04-13 16:50

    I usually pull some favorite quotes from a book as I go along, which is what I had been doing for this one, too. But then I got to the chapter at Dunkirk. And the first two sections of that chapter are amazing, line after line after line. Those first 4 or 5 pages of Chapter 10 are some of the best writing around.

  • Tony
    2019-04-18 20:51

    Barry, Sebastian. THE WHEREABOUTS OF ENEAS MCNULTY. (1998). ****. This was Barry’s second novel, and, of course, I’ve been reading them all out of order. There is a constant and recurring theme that has run throughout all of them, though, that makes you believe that Barry is realy writing a theme and variation on the same book many times. This novel focuses on Eneas McNulty, a man from Sligo, who grows up poor. His mom and dad both work at the insane asylum, sewing clothes for the inmates, but his dad has his heart in music, the music that people love to dance to on a Saturday night. Eneas finds that Sligo has no opportunities of employment for young men, so he joins up with the Royal Irish Constabulary after the first world war is over. This turns out not to have been a good decision at the time, since all the young men around him are becoming another kind of soldier, intent on winning freedom from eight hundred years of oppression by the English. To these men, Eneas is a traitor, and he becomes caught up in a murderous web of reprisals. Eneas is now shunned and threatened by his old friends, especially his boyhood friend, Jonno Lynch, who is now one of the IRA’s enforcers. He is now forced to leave Sligo by these men in dark coats who have placed him under sentence of death. He joins a fishing fleet that trolls for herring off the coast of Scotland, then enlists in the army to go and fight in France. he is one of the stragglers of Dunkirk, but is taken captive by a Frenchman of dubious sanity to help him work on his vineyards. When he finally leaves France and travels back to Sligo, he finds that the death warrant is still in effect. Again, he is forced to flee the country and indentures himself for three years to an excavating firm in Lagos, where he meets Harcourt, a Nigerian who soon becomes his good friend. Throughout all of his running from country to country, Eneas prerserves his lust for life and his belief in the universal goodness of man. When he has become old, he heads for the Isle of Dogs, where he unites with Harcourt to set up a hotel for indigent seamen. His end comes in the form of a last generous sacrifice that ultimately redeems his lifetime of loss. Recommended.

  • Bruce
    2019-04-21 16:43

    Writing from the perspective of Eneas, beginning in his young childhood, Barry uses third person narrative, the present tense, and free indirect discourse to trace the life and development of this puzzled young man in Sligo, Ireland, beginning at about the start of the last century. Barry’s fine ear for the music and lilt of Sligo dialect waft the reader into the ambiance of western Ireland before and during World War I, conjuring the personalities and social customs of the times while also incarnating the mysteries of childhood and adolescence that are universal.It is often difficult to make sense of Irish novels, both contemporary and from the mid and later 20th century, without at least a rudimentary knowledge of Irish history, for allusions are ever-present and memory of the past always seems to determine and interpret the present for both the author and the characters. For the Irish, history is part of the present, and its span is more of a continuity with today, more omnipresent in one’s awareness, than it often seems to be for us in America. Eneas is the perpetual outsider, always unwittingly allied to causes that turn out badly, ever shunned by town folk and countrymen, trying to make sense and live in the midst of larger events that baffle and toss him - WWI, the fight for Irish independence, the following Irish Civil War, WWII. Not exactly naïve, certainly not stupid or uninformed, but a man whose allegiance is to family and, when possible, friends, caring less for the abstractions of nationalism and politics. In such circumstances he lives simply, anonymously, and, it can be argued, heroically. Barry’s vocabulary is arresting, his syntax Irish and captivating, the music of his prose mesmerizing. This is prose poetry that captures the anguish and essence of life, its joy and its pain, its yearning and mystery and fullness. How is Eneas related to Virgil’s Aeneas? Wanders, exiles both, redeeming and redeemed.

  • Katherine Wade-easley
    2019-04-16 16:58

    I would love to give this book a higher rating based on some of the prose. The writing can be lovely, with moments of description that are well done - but the entire book is bogged down in the author's desire to be poetic. The story is lost in all "those words" as it becomes more about long drawn out paragraphs and no motion to the story and then a sudden burst forward - then back to long, never ending sentences.... A fan of this period in history or of this place may look past all of that, enjoy the droning of words upon words - but my personal preference is one in which the story moves and I care about - and understand - the character and his choices. There were a few moments of "oh great! story!" and they showed great potential to be interesting so I think that there is a good story underneath all the miscellaneous chatter - as nice as it may be.

  • Blair Lee
    2019-03-24 17:52

    I did not love this book. It reminded me of a book English professors assign in English 101. Too often I felt as if the author was more interested in creating a flower from words than in telling his story. A couple of times I actually counted how many pages I had left. The story itself is quite good. I wish someone had said to the author, “Not every sentence in the book has to be an artful expression designed to impress readers with how erudite you are.” I even reread passages to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I came to realize I probably was missing some things, but that was okay, because I didn’t care. I would give this book 3.5 stars. It is worth reading if you are as interested in issues surrounding the Irish struggles and thoughtful discussions about prejudice as I am.

  • Carolyn Mck
    2019-03-22 20:04

    After I recently read Barry's impressive Days Without End, I tracked down this earlier work about the McNulty family. Barry has mined a rich vein of his Irish family history through plays and novels about two families - the McNultys and the Dunnes. This novel was written about the time the Northern Ireland peace accords were signed but it demonstrates the enduring hatreds that ran through Irish history in the 20th century. Eneas McNulty has a death sentence passed upon him by the IRA because of his (brief) service with the Royal Irish Constabulary before Irish independence. Eneas is compelled to become a wanderer, always longing for his homeland, and with the possibility that his whereabouts might always be tracked down.I admired much about this early Barry novel - his themes and his insights into the ties of family and country and the character of Eneas himself - an 'everyman' who suffers vicissitudes including war and hard labour in a far-off country. Barry's prose style is very much his own - the cadences of Ireland with its mixture of religious references, its long, lyrical paragraphs and its down-to-earth moments that strike the heart. But Days Without End perhaps spoiled this novel for me as this had the unevenness of an early novel compared to the mastery of his later work. At times my interest in Eneas' episodic adventures flagged and sometimes I found the style overblown. And although I thought the resolution of the conclusion apt, I found the final pages irritating. (Can't say why without spoiling that ending for other readers.) An ending is as important to a novel as its beginning and my irritation has coloured my impressions which for the most part were otherwise very favourable. A mixed review.

  • Megan
    2019-03-26 16:03

    The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty by Sebastian Barry begins with a brief rundown of Eneas' childhood in County Sligo. Contentedly alone with his parents until age ten, Eneas' world changes unexpectedly when three younger siblings are born one right after the other. Having lost the attention of his parents as an only child and having lost his best and only friend to the underbelly of Irish society, Eneas decides to run away from his loneliness by going to war, and ends up signing on with the British Merchant Navy.When the war is over, Eneas realizes how much he misses home and he returns to Sligo, only to find a changed town. One war is over, but another has begun as the Irish begin fighting for their independence from England. Eneas is seen as a traitor for being in the British Merchant Navy and he can't find work. To make matters worse the only employment he can find is with the British run police force in another county, which ends in events that wind up putting his name on the Irish rebel's hit list.He returns to Sligo and does his best to live in the shadows and to be forgotten by the townspeople. Despite his ostracism he meets a girl and falls in love, which crosses a line in the Irish rebels' eyes. They will tolerate his existence no more. Eneas is to leave Ireland forever or be murdered. So Eneas chooses to leave, leaving behind the love of his life and his family, to make his way in the world, a lonely man always pining for what he has been forced to leave behind. He knows that to return would be a death sentence, but Ireland beckons to him like a siren and he doesn't know if he'll be able to stay away.Although I joyfully celebrate my Irish heritage once a year, I am embarrassed to say I know absolutely nothing about Irish history (outside of what I've seen in the horror classic Leprechaun), which this book made me painfully aware of. So on my to do list I've added 'read multiple books on Irish history'. This book is interesting in that it tells the side of a group of people who were persecuted wrongly, whereas I assume most books will focus on the legitimate war between the Irish and British, glossing over the cases like Eneas' and the more sinister side of things.This book was a change of pace from what I've been reading lately. It's a depressing story from beginning to end, with no moments of levity to lighten the mood at any point, which I think made it the perfect transition from the frivolous books of summer to the more serious, literary adventures I associate with fall, fuzzy blankets, hot cocoa and fireplaces. The story itself kept my interest. Although not an action-packed plot, I kept reading and rooting for Eneas to win until the last page of the book. Barry's writing was very lyrical and quite beautiful at times and he does such a great job expressing Eneas' loneliness that I began going to bed at night feeling just as lonely myself. I feel like it sounds callous to say I enjoyed such a sad tale (like when I feel bad for 'liking' a sad HONY post), so maybe it would be better to say I appreciated

  • Marianne
    2019-04-11 23:56

    The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty is the sixth novel by Irish author Sebastian Barry and involves several characters of Barry’s later novel, The Secret Scripture, and his play, Our Lady of Sligo. Eneas McNulty is born in Sligo at the turn of the century, a gentle soul, naïve, guileless, who finds himself, not, as he had always believed, popular with lots of friends, but instead shunned, an outcast in his own town, his own country. At sixteen he joins the British Merchant Navy for the cause of France in World War One. This alignment with Britain gains him the disapproval of the fledgling republican movement in Ireland. He unwittingly compounds this by joining the Royal Irish Constabulary when he cannot find any other work. Suspected of betraying the men who murder his Sergeant to the Reprisal Man, he finds himself on a blacklist, an Enemy of the Irish People; his only chance to redeem himself is to murder the Reprisal Man, something he refuses to do. Driven from his town and his country, he finds himself fishing in the North Sea and digging in Africa, but always longing to return to Sligo. Barry’s prose is lyrical and moving: “Isn’t she dour too, a deal of the time, dour as a fallen loaf in a cold oven, a disappointed loaf?” “…..Eneas relaxes because she talks just the same as himself, with grey pebbles of the Sligo slingshot talk.” “…any person alive in the world , any person putting a shoulder against a life, no matter how completely failing to do the smallest good thing, is a class of hero.” Barry’s story leads the reader to conclude that the promise of freedom for an oppressed country does not tolerate indecision or errors of judgement: “It is strange that though many years separate the freedom of their homelands, Eneas and Harcourt are scraps of people both, blown of the road of life by history’s hungry breezes.” There is plenty of heartbreak in this tale, but some small crumbs of happiness as well. Eneas is a character to love and feel for: even in his own outcast state, he feels for others, like the shipload of exiled German Jews. There may not be much to laugh about, and yet Barry manages some marvellous dialogue that almost has a tongue-in-cheek feel: Eneas’s conversations with Jonno Lynch are a good example. Eneas’s story intersects with that of Roseanne Clear (The Secret Scripture) but the stories do not match up exactly, perhaps understandable as The Secret Scripture relies on the memory of a hundred-year-old woman. I came to this book after reading The Secret Scripture, which was a wonderful read. I can honestly say that I am not disappointed in this beautifully told story and I will be seeking out more works by Sebastian Barry.

  • Diane Yannick
    2019-04-09 19:56

    I didn't know much about the postwar politics in Ireland before I read this book. After WWI, Ireland had two very separate factions: those who were still fighting for Britain (Royal Irish Constabulary) and those who are intent on winning their freedom after 800 years of English oppression (IRA). After Eneas' service to the RIC, he has a death sentence levied on his head. For the rest of his life he deals with the aftermath of this decision. His childhood friend, Jonno, is one of the IRA enforcers and His love for his parents and his country control his heart. Yet, his survival instinct pushes him to survive. He ekes out a living in Scotland, France and Africa, eventually returning to his beloved Ireland. His necessary choices make him a lone man who feels that he leaves no real imprint on the earth. His final attempts to allow others some human dignity, end in his own demise. Throughout, Eneas lives his life with an odd sense of grace and thoughtful acceptance of his circumstances. I found myself always rooting for him but with a sense that it was not going to end well.Although Barry's style of writing has been described by others as linguistic genius, I found it often hard to swallow. Yes, this author can write and yes there are many memorable scenes, but for me it was a little too long winded. For me, single course of linguistic genius would have been preferable to the whole danged buffet. Ok, one small example is when his mother gives him a sandwich and a kiss and Eneas heads off. "With his sandwiches as perishable talisman, he accepts his mother's kiss and she accepts his, and he heads away into bright Sligo with his soul as simple as a salmon's."

  • Ryan
    2019-03-22 22:51

    It is easy to get lost in the beauty of the language. I found myself having to re-read paragraphs because I'd forgotten to pay attention to the plot, which is fairly simple but you do have to pay attention.Sentences like: Moonlight brings Nigeria closer to Ireland.and The atomic bomb brings the men home from every quarter of the earth because the war is not so much over as stunned back into history...Every few pages I found myself interrupting my roommate to read a few sentences that were so lovely they had to be shared Right Now.The story is also good and well-done. I believed in Eneas' life and experiences as if it were a biography and not fiction. He is born in 1900 (based on various comments in the book) and raised in Sligo, Ireland and there is a sense that he is something of a wanderer his whole life, even before wandering was enforced by circumstances. He leaves for the British Merchant Marines at age 16 - so 1916 - and when he returns is not able to find work, so becomes a 'peeler', British again. His employment choices create hostile feelings against him in Sligo and he leaves Ireland, like so many have before him. I remember watching Man Without a Country in grade school, and at the time it did not sink in that the main character could never set foot on his native soil again, and what that might mean. Eneas' story made the idea much more clear.

  • Kari
    2019-03-31 15:40

    What an amazing story. It follows the life of one man, born in the early 1900s in a small coastal Irish town. He lives through war and isolation, constant fear and loneliness. I guess in my reviews I don't like to give any spoilers, so I'll just tell you how this book made me feel as I read it. It isn't an easy read -- not something you would breeze through lightly, but rather is one of those poetical prose books that cause you to stop and reread a sentence here and there, soaking in the subtlety and the inner meaning. Eneas doesn't say much about all the things that happen to him throughout his life -- he is startlingly quiet about things both horrible and beautiful -- and the reader is left to fill in many of the blanks about his thoughts and emotions. Eneas McNulty isn't a catchy pop song, but rather a piece of classical music the depth of which is only revealed through quiet study and careful listening. I was fully engrossed in the story and heartbroken many times. It reminds me of a Hemingway story in it's scope and grandeur, and I was very surprised to learn it was only written in 1998. Do people still write like this? Sebastian Barry has raised the bar for writers everywhere.

  • Janet
    2019-04-21 18:52

    A tough read for me. First of all, I missed the significance of the name Eneas. Then, of course, he undertook the odyssey of his life as he continually left Ireland to escape the vendetta of the blacklist he innocently was placed on, coming back in the hope that all is forgotten or forgiven, finding out that no one ever gets expunged from the list except by death, leaving again, etc.He gets into interesting adventures, but he always hopes that he can come back. Of course, even in the best of circumstances, you can't really got back.This is the second Barry book I've read of innocents leaving all to escape the black list and finding there is no escape. Not something I like in a recreational read.

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-14 00:05

    I took this novel away with me because, after reading The Secret Scripture and A Long, Long Way I thought I couldn't go wrong with Sebastian Barry as my companion. Well, I hope I haven't read the best of him, because this one was disappointing. It was beautifully written, as are all Barry's works so far for me, but I just felt this one was a little less interesting and the style was a bit more viscous than his others. The wanderings of Eneas were a little too meandering, and though I didn't really want to put it aside forever, it would have been a good book to read at the same time as something else that was faster moving.

  • Kate
    2019-03-26 17:01

    This is a very enjoyable read not just because of the storyline and a well developed main character, but also because Sebastian Barry has such a beautiful lyrical prose style. Eneas McNulty was born in 1900 in Sligo in the west of Ireland into an average working class home. As a young man, he didn't get involved with the revolutionaries but chose instead, in order to earn a living, to join the police. That began a chain of events which forced him out of his country and affected the rest of his life. The reader is drawn into Eneas' life and mind and we keep wishing he would have a bit of luck and be happy. We then realise what happiness for Eneas means.

  • Elliot
    2019-04-10 20:47

    A great read although it took me about 60 pages to get into it. (I'd give it 3.5 if Goodreads enabled that.) There are passages where Barry's abilities as a wordsmith are as good as anyone's. There are also passages that are so gripping with tension, it would take several big bullies to wrest the book away. Somehow Barry manages to weave a keen sense of humor into a pretty bleak story. It is also a thoughtful book about political independence movements and some rarely considered collateral damage.

  • Roxy
    2019-03-26 19:39

    Barry really understands his native country; this book reads like a dirge. It is heartbreaking to watch what happens to poor Eneas , who never gets a break. He just wants a quiet life with Mam and Pappy and Viv, but he is never able to enjoy that. He yearns to go back to the madhouse, "He is mortally exhausted sometimes by being this Eneas McNulty." As his friend tells him, "We are not masters of this life." I think it's a true reflection on the life of so many Irish in those times.

  • Kim
    2019-04-08 19:42

    I really enjoyed the story of the character, Eneas McNulty, sad as it was on the whole but unfortunately I wasn't very keen on the language in which it was told - the author seemed to be making an effort to be over-descriptive with his language and how Eneas was feeling which sadly affected my enjoyment of the book. In my opinion, not as good as others of his that I have read - 6/10.

  • Elinor
    2019-04-03 16:42

    I didn't enjoy this as much as The Secret Scripture and found the story lacking at times; however, this is some of the best writing I have ever read - Sebastian Barry's language is absolutely stunning!

  • Janet
    2019-04-05 23:51

    The lilting prose of Barry is gorgeous; the story is a sad, Irish story, filled with the IRA, World Wars and old vengeful friends like Jonno Lynch, and good friends like Port Harcourt. The life-long story of Eneus does not end with the founding of Rome or a new city; it just ends.

  • MaryBeth
    2019-03-31 21:58

    I am currently reading this book, and it is feeding my need to connect to my Irish background.

  • Glen
    2019-04-15 17:58

    This is a marvelous book narrated powerfully and beautifully by one of Ireland's finest living writers. No doubt critics and literary wags will look for multiple parallels between the eponymous hero of the story and his more famous namesake from Virgil's epic, perhaps seeing therein an attempt on Barry's part to one-up Joyce's Ulysses, but I see no such effort other than as a superficial gesture or proverbial doffing of the cap. The story of Eneas McNulty is the story of Ireland in the 20th Century, of an island dogged by invasions, occupations, and colonialism, by provincialism and parochialism of the worst kind, struggling to gain its independence and place among nations, and of the terrible internal divisions that struggle entails. Eneas is an outcast from his own Sligo home, put under sentence of death by the IRA for the unpardonable sin of having served the British Crown, albeit briefly and inconspicuously, in the Royal Irish Constabulary. He flees Ireland, returning periodically only to be forced to flee again, serves on the beaches of Dunkirk, in the Nigerian countryside, and finally finds a home of sorts on the British "Isle of Dogs" with his African friend, Harcourt, only to have his own personal troubles revisit in the book's climax. The book ends with a paragraph of stunning beauty, but such lyric, poetical passages abound in this excellent novel.

  • Andrew
    2019-04-12 18:45

    The best read of the far! A brilliant & disturbing novel which struck so many deep blood chords in my vivid literary imagination with its cruel & merciless examination of a failed life in difficult times in 20th century Ireland...a haunting echo, perhaps, of my mysteriously absent grandfather...who, it seems, was exiled from his homeland by the vicious, internecine violence of the 'gobshites' of Irish politics...on their malign, illusory, visionary even, paradise that is Catholic Ireland in the modern, post-settlement era..a land of lead-weight saints & lead-brain scholars!. This is pure literature, by turns poetic & prosaic, but always reaching for more than the 5 stars I happily award it!

  • Keith Bullock
    2019-04-13 16:43

    Sebastian Barry brings a poetry to his prose that I find unequalled in the modern novel. It is not often that I find myself putting a book down in mid-read, to ponder in awe the depth and beauty of the writer's soul; I do it quiet regularly with Barry's novels.This novel is one of several that probes aspects of Ireland's struggle towards independence. Eneas is an uncomplicated man who falls foul of a childhood friend and future leader within the IRA. He is obliged to flee his country and spend his days in exile. He can never forget his homeland however and discovers to his cost, later in life that the Irish Troubles linger long in the memory of his former community.