Read Тайното писание by Sebastian Barry Себастиан Бари Владимир Молев Живко Петров Online

Тайното писание

ТАЙНОТО ПИСАНИЕ – това са две разтърсващи в красотата и трагизма си изповеди, два лични дневника, белязани с много страсти, с много любов, предателства и скръб.Като млада Роузан Макнълти се слави като най-красивото и желано момиче в Слайгоу. В залеза на живота си, малко преди да навърши сто, тя решава да опише перипетиите и личната си болка и да скрие това „тайно писание“ТАЙНОТО ПИСАНИЕ – това са две разтърсващи в красотата и трагизма си изповеди, два лични дневника, белязани с много страсти, с много любов, предателства и скръб.Като млада Роузан Макнълти се слави като най-красивото и желано момиче в Слайгоу. В залеза на живота си, малко преди да навърши сто, тя решава да опише перипетиите и личната си болка и да скрие това „тайно писание“ под дъските на пода в болничната си стая. Психиатърът доктор Грийн, на чиито грижи е поверена, трябва да прецени доколко тя е в състояние да се върне в „общността“, тъй като предстои психиатричната болница да бъде преместена в нова сграда, и затова се нагърбва да разплете кълбото от загадки и премълчани истини около тази тайнствена жена без близки и роднини. И научава много не само за Роузан, но и за себе си.Така пред нас изниква един вълнуващ, пленителен и жесток свят, където красотата е двуостър нож, а религията и политиката не са друго освен параван за двуличие и поквара.Наскоро по романа беше заснет филм с Руни Мара и Ванеса Редгрейв в главните роли и с режисьор Джим Шеридан с шест номинации за „Оскар“.СЕБАСТИАН БАРИ (р. 1955) е един от най-талантливите ирландски писатели от новото време. Откроява се с изящния си поетичен стил и изумителните образи, които изгражда. „Тайното писание“ е удостоено с наградата „Коста“ - Книга на годината за 2008-а, и е сред финалистите за наградата „Ман – Букър“....

Title : Тайното писание
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9786197055351
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 264 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Тайното писание Reviews

  • Dem
    2019-02-14 00:49

    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 where she was committed as a young woman. Finishing up his case notes before the hospital is closed psychiatrist Dr Greene finds himself intrigued by the story of his elderly patient. While Dr Green investigates, Roseanne looks back on the tragedies and passions she has locked away in her secret journal, from her turbulent rural childhood to the marriage she believed would bring her happiness. But when Dr Green finally uncovers the circumstances of her arrival at the hospital it leads to a shocking secret.I have read several of Barry's novels to date and this one is one of my all time favourites as this story is moving and haunting and Barry has a talent at capturing an Irishiness that is real and authentic of the time and place.On reading this for a second time as the first time I read it was in 2009 and since the movie is out at the moment I wanted to refresh my memory and see if I would enjoy the reading experience all over again. On finishing the Novel I don't think I want to actually see the movie now as I am afraid it will spoil the vivid images created in my mind by Barry's glorious writing.Quote from book: my mother’s wits were now in an attic of her head which had neither door nor stair, or at least none that I could find.” This is a moving story about memory and conflicting versions of the past, beautiful and haunting and yet uplifting. A well deserved 5 stars and without doubt it earned its place on the short list for the Man Booker Prize in 2008.

  • Cecily
    2019-01-30 21:53

    Are you an honest person? Truly?Perhaps you instinctively think “Yes”, even as you realise 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 one?What 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 more that the person is “admirable, living, and complete” - what a curious trio of adjectives.In 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 seventy years. 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 guilt.And 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 embroidery.And 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 both?!Why are they writing?No 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 consequences of gossip and presumption more 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 question 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)]WordsNo plot spoilers, just background notes and detail. (view spoiler)[The writing it beautiful and lyrical (see quotes below, especially about sea, ran, weather, and light), but some words have special weight. The pages are infused with religious people, language, and symbols (a priest, the church, visions that might be angels, and roast lamb in a sacrificial context).• Is “Roseanne’s Testimony of herself” her title or someone else’s?• Is “secret scripture” an oxymoron – and who calls it that?• What is sacred about it – the story or the telling of it? • Dr Grene’s record is merely his “Commonplace Book”.Perhaps because she has been deemed unclean by some, Roseanne notes cleanliness a great deal:• “My father was the cleanest man in all the Christian world.”• Father Gaunt is “cleaner than the daylight moon” and later, his “cleanliness made me fearful”.• Dr Grene sits on Roseanne’s bed “as if it were the cleanest bed in all Christendom”.• And she only writes her notes on clean sheets of paper. Names may tell us something:• Clear is the surname of Roseanne’s family, but their history is opaque.• Grene, the doctor’s surname, is an important colour, as well as being associated with Ireland generally. • Gaunt can never be good, can it?• Roseanne loves flowers, especially roses, as does Dr Grene’s wife, and when he visits Roseanne’s old house, he finds and plucks a rose.Roses are not the only hybrids. It’s significant that some people are part English and part Irish. (hide spoiler)]Poisoned ChalicesFemale beauty and sexuality are poisoned chalices in a society where only women are shamed and punished for the consequences of both. Mere existence “Caused him… displeasure and disquiet at the nature of a woman.”What Matters in The End?I guessed the main twist (and others) well before it was revealed. I didn’t mind. But what did dilute the book’s power was the rushed but detailed explanation of the complex chain of events, involving many people, that made it possible. Far better had it been chance (fate) or merely unexplained. More credible, too. If one strives to be the architect of one’s own life, it’s not much of a stretch to be the curator of one’s own history, editing a little along the way, is it?And if you trust or blame fate instead, perhaps you have even more cause to write yourself a happier beginning, middle, and end. I ask again: Are you an honest person? Truly? Is anyone?QuotesNo plot spoilers, but hidden for brevity and easy scrolling. They’re worth the click, though. It’s not just the setting that is typically Irish, but the writing, too.History, Memory, Truth, and Stories Quotes(view spoiler)[• “No one has the monopoly on truth.”• “History… is not the arrangement of what happened… but a fabulous arrangement of surmises and guesses held up as a banner against the assault of withering truth.” Fabulous in more than one sense.• “The written word assumes authority but it may not have it.”• “I thought others were the authors of my sort of misfortune.”• “A child is never the author of his own history.”• “I am only the midwife to my own old story.”• “Memory… if it is neglected becomes like a box room… the contents jumbled about.”• “Everything I remember… may not be real... There was so much turmoil… I took refuge in other impossible histories, in dreams, in fantasies? I don’t know.” (hide spoiler)]Sanity and Madness Quotes(view spoiler)[• "Madness… has many flowers, rising from the same stem."• “Learned a sort of viral madness” is often the fate of long-term inmates of the asylum. The worse cases are “sleeping towards death, crawling on bleeding knees towards our Lord… I whisper a prayer to hurry up their souls to heaven.”• “In here, amid the shadows and the distant cries, the greatest virtue is silence.”• “Sane to a degree that makes sanity almost undesirable.” (hide spoiler)]Beauty Quotes(view spoiler)[• “A more beautiful girl Sligo never saw, she had skin soft as feathers” and “green eyes like American emeralds”. The sort of beauty “no man can protect himself against”. • “My mother suffered strangely under her halo of beauty.” • “Beautiful once, but beauty ended.”• “All that remains of me now is a rumour of beauty.” (hide spoiler)]People and Relationships Quotes(view spoiler)[• “He had that rare ability to let things ease in himself in the company of a child, and be stupid and gay in the parched light.”• “It is no crime to love your father.”• “My pride in her was my pride in myself.”• “Now we are two foreign countries and we simply have our embassies in the same house. Relations are friendly but strictly diplomatic. There is an underlying sense of rumour, of judgement, of memory, like two peoples that have once committed grave crimes against each other, but in another generation.” • “We have neglected the tiny sentences of life and now the big ones are beyond our reach.”(hide spoiler)]Sea, Rain, Weather, and Light Quotes(view spoiler)[Humans came from the sea and therefore still long for it. Many characters walk the shore for peace or escape, and one is dramatically rescued from drowning. • “The rain drives everyone indoors and history with it… our world in its inner truth is so wet, the surprised greens of the fields and hills seem to burn with a sort of bewilderment, a wonderment.”• “Always the deluge of rain falling... making the houses shiver and huddle like people at a football match. Falling fantastically, in enormous amounts, the contents of a hundred rivers. And the river itself... swelling up, the beautiful swans taken by surprise, riding the torrent, being swept down under the bridge and reappearing the other side like unsuccessful suicides, their mysterious eyes shocked and black, their mysterious grace unassailed.”• “Sideways spring sunlight, that seemed to have crept in through the window-glass with an almost apologetic delicacy.”• “The wind was dancing about… so you didn’t know where the rain would catch you.”• “Rain striking the surface of the road and leaping about with a sort of anger.”• “The rain was like huge skirts, swirling and lifting.”• “The galloping sound of the sea, as it rushed in eagerly to take the empty places in its arms.”The famous Metal Man is “Solid and eternal… faithfully and stoically pointing down into the deep water.” (hide spoiler)]Other Quotes(view spoiler)[• “A cold town. Even the mountains stood away.”• “Any effort at gardening… is an effort to drag to earth the colours and importances of heaven.”• “Grief is two years long.” So says Fr Gaunt. • “My head was aflame with the deep dark pulse of grief, that beats like a physical pain, like a rat got into your brains, a rat on fire.”• “At close of day the ship we sail in is the soul, not the body.”• “His veritable gospel was Religio Medici by Sir Thomas Browne.”• “Slight as a watercolour, a mere gesture of bones and features.”• Café women “like veritable hens in a yard… the chat and gossip rising from them like dust from a desert caravan of camels.”• “Accents like beer bottles being smashed in a back lane.” (hide spoiler)]Image Sources(view spoiler)[Hand on Bible: Poisoned chalice: Man, Coney Island, near Sligo: truth will set you free (John 8:32): spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Petra X
    2019-02-06 19:54

    Sexuality in beautiful young women in backward societies is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it attracts young 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 validated.It's not much different today, is it? Call a girl a slut and people look at her askance. Not a nice person, not someone you'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 lives.And 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 home.He 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 more about each other than they ever could have suspected. It's quite 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. 4.5 stars. Ok, I really enjoyed it. 5 stars!

  • Candi
    2019-02-15 21:51

    "For history as far as I can see is not the arrangement of what happens, in sequence and in truth, but a fabulous arrangement of surmises and guesses held up as a banner against the assault of withering truth."The 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 years of her nearly one hundred years of life. Her story is gradually revealed through her own narrative as recorded in a hidden journal as well as through inquiries 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 thing."Roseanne’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 Gaunt 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 quiet contemplation, allowing Sebastian Barry’s extraordinary prose to wash over and captivate you. I closed the book with a feeling of absolute contentment despite the grim journey. I will no doubt read more 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."

  • Manny
    2019-02-07 00:33

    A wonderful, poetic book about love and memory. Also pain, and loss, and how you can miss the most important thing in the world, even though it's right under your nose. Ireland too, of course.We'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 to forgive her tormentors anyway, even the cruel Fr Gaunt. At the same time, we're poor Doctor Grene, who's messed up his own life and those of three other people, because he got drunk one evening and acted without thinking of the consequences.He creates fantastic images. The burning rat. Her mother's clock. The German planes, flying low over the sea on their way to bomb Belfast. The hammers and the feathers. I can still see them falling.

  • Debra
    2019-02-06 17:41

    Rose McNultry is almost 100 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 frequent talks with her therapist/psychiatrist 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 question, if you are sane when you are institutionalized, will this prolonged treatment render you insane?Rose 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 young Man who has a domineering Mother who does not approve of her Catholic son being with a Presbyterian young woman. Father Gaunt makes sure that Rose does not marry the 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 ensues.I 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 more sad - more poignant. I could feel her loneliness and pain. I, unlike Rose, would have been mad as hell at having been locked up all those years. I would have raged and fought. She chose the path of forgiveness. She is a survivor. There is something quite beautiful in her ability to sit with her loss and loneliness and forgive those 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 them.See more of my reviews at

  • Jen
    2019-01-23 20:51

    The Secret Scriptures is a remarkable holy grail of writing. Barry masterfully writes a poetic psychological mystery where he magically weaves a story of 2 voices: One of Roseanne McNulty, who now sits in a mental institution and has for the past 40 odd years of her 100 year life; and the other of her psychiatrist, Dr Grene, who has known her for the duration of her stay. Roseanne sits in her room as she nears the end of her life, reflecting back through the daily journal she writes and hides in the floorboards of her room. Grene has been told he needs to release patients as the hospital is closing down. He now has the task of evaluating those who are mentally sound and for reasons unbeknownst to him, were incarcerated for reasons other than mental illness. As such was the life of Roseanne - when the Irish Catholic church had a vice like grip on what morality was and for many women who didn’t fit the mold were demoralized and removed from society by being institutionalized often under horrific conditions. Themes of good vs evil rebound; infidelity; aging; religion and loyalty. An eloquent read. 5 ★

  • Kalliope
    2019-01-23 17:47

    Reading this novel I have felt as if I were peeling two onions: one yellow, one purple. First one, then the other, and back to the first and so on. My illusion was that after peeling its outer tunic and I proceeded to remove, slowly and gradually each scale leaf, I was lifting a veil and approaching the inner bud, a hidden core. The truth. The yellow onion has less thinner and finer leaves. In their frailty and subtler delicacy of colour, they are as the veiled and vulnerable memories of an old woman. Evocative and reminiscent. The purple one has thicker, heftier, almost corpulent scale leaves. They are also brighter in their colour contrast, as if written in black and white. In their matter-of-factness they seem manlier and have more purpose. As scientific men often do.And then as I peel them both, they gradually begin to lose their distinctiveness, and become more alike. The white translucent tone predominates, and begins to feel as if they were the same onion after all.This illusion or tale of two onions is deceptive. There is no such thing really. I am not peeling any onions. I have just read a novel. But I have imagined it but as I develop it the image seems to have acquired a greater consistency and reality than the book I have read. It seem to be getting all confused. Once I started with the onions simile my review has taken a flight of its own and I feel I am moving away from the book I have just read and am trying to review.For example, the tale of the onions does not have any reference to the murky and violent politics as those suffered in the Ireland of the 1920s when the country endured the worst kind of wars--a civil one. It is certainly far away from any meditation of the thorny aspects of sexuality when there may be abuse or self-delusion involved. It ignores completely the issues of stale religions and conventions when they exclude individuals out of a fossilized set of social arrangements. For it does not include any consideration of the themes of betrayal and trust and how they combine with love, and what happens to broken dreams and candid idealisms under the pressure of torturing creeds. My invented analogy overlooks the peculiar mixture of crystal clear writing with elusive and elegant passages of lyricism with no sugar of Barry’s pen. And it omits to consider that one of the characters could be understood in its symbolic dimension and does not see that it is as big as an entire land.But then the onions do present a story too, and we all need stories, for stories are the stuff of life and of our self-knowledge. So, yes, after all, Barry’s novel does have for me some aspects, even if somewhat reduced and simplified, of the story of my imagined peeling of the two onions, since the image did occur to me intricately connected to my reading of the novel. There must be something there, or at least in my mind, which after all is all that matters. At least to me.And now as the imagined peeled onions get more and more entangled with my memory of Barry’s novel, I realize that someone who has not read the novel would have a difficult time ascertaining what the Secret Scripture is all about, since my own telling is just misconstruing and is disfigured by other ideas that populate my mind. And for those who have read it, my bringing in this stupid account of the onions, and my peeling of them, will appear as a mangled distortion.At least let me say that I do not intend to trivialize Barry’s novel. Forget the onions. I should have concentrated on the actual process of unveiling: the continuous progress when moving from the distinct to the sameness, or from appearances to the essences. What may seem different may turn out to be of the same nature.And yet, do not belittle banality. The games that the mind plays sometimes act as a defence against sorrow and despair.Leaves of the onion, leaves of the book. Both could make you feel vulnerable and cry.

  • Diane Barnes
    2019-02-03 00:27

    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 asked?She 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 story!The 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 years is demolished, and the other by the patient herself, 100 year 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 him.This 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 it.Even though the setting is from 1907 - 2007, it reads like a Victorian novel, maybe because of the handwritten journals and the Irish locales.This 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.

  • BlackOxford
    2019-01-20 20:52

    Innocent BetrayalsSecret Scripture is a story of betrayals - by those we love most, of them in turn by us; but particularly our betrayal of ourselves in memory and history. We betray ourselves through memories in which we both find and avoid guilt. We are innocent because we are hapless when it comes to memory. They are of us but neither reliable nor controllable by us. Memories rarely comfort. Good ones remind us of loss; bad ones evoke regret. Curiously, memories become dissociated from motives. So the reasons for our actions at best appear incomprehensible; at worst we end up condemning ourselves.According to Barry's fiction we don't calculate consequences - either of betraying or of being betrayed - we creep into situations which explode. We did not intend these explosions which destroy the matrix of life. They are beyond our control. We are then trapped in the rubble - of marriage, of family for an individual; and, for a community or a nation, of the enemies we have created of one other. Roseanne Clear, a centenarian confined in a mental hospital for seventy years is one such hapless victim - a woman cheated of her life through hatefulness and the mendacity of those closest to her. Roseanne, and her home of Sligo, also represent all of Ireland of the last century. Her "life spans everything, she is as much as we can know of our world, the last hundred years of it... The fact is we are missing so many threads in our Irish story that the tapestry of Irish life cannot but fall apart. There is nothing to hold it together." Barry describes a drear and confused Ireland, a land of religiosity without moral principles; populated by self-righteous priests and their repressed and obedient congregations. A land of fanatical peasants and their murderous leaders who have always blamed others for their murders, particularly the English whom they murdered as much as their own.But this description is also recognised as questionable by Barry. It is a judgement based on history. History is merely recorded memories and cannot be trusted. As the doctor in charge of Roseanne’s care comes to recognise, "I am beginning to wonder strongly what is the nature of history... most truth and fact offered by syntactical means is treacherous and unreliable." The unreliability is not so much down to lies as incompleteness, axes to be ground, loyalties to be safeguarded. Penetrating this morass seems impossible, but it sometimes can be done. Reality is then found "like a lost shilling on a floor of mud, glistening in some despair."This is a highly emotional book. It conjures sympathy, disgust, and ultimately hope in about equal measure. It is honest rather than clever; it is spare without being sparse. It is very Irish; and it is very good.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-02-04 23:52

    The Catholic Church was all powerful, a time in Ireland when religious and political factions cause almost unceasing distress and death. A young beautiful woman, a protestant woman, dares to fall in love with a Catholic but will end up spending a great part of her one-hundred years inside a psychiatric institution. Why and how did this happen?A story written down by a very old woman, an account of the priest uncovered by Doctor Grene who is charged with discovering which of the residents, patients would be allowed to go free when this old institution is destroyed. Yet, the accounts vary greater, so which one to believe?And so slowly unravels the story of a life, a time when a priest's word was unquestionable. Irish mothers and their sons, I married one, the son, well possibly the mother too. A very dense and wordy book, a book one must read slowly, a very sad and poignant tale. A very good and touching tale, that brings that whole period back to life and shows us the true story of what actually happened to Roseanne, and what Doctor Grene will decide to do in the face of the truth.

  • Sue
    2019-02-06 20:40

    I really loved this book, all of it, the prose, the content, the Irish-ness of it. The words are chosen so well that they flow smoothly in telling the story. Memory is a center of the tale as is Ireland and fate as in all Irish stories. There is love and hate, war but no real peace. There is always misunderstanding, but there are occasional attempts to move beyond this.The ending was foreshadowed to some degree but I didn't mind that at all. Once again it fits with the fateful-ness and Irish nature of it all.This was my first book by Barry but most definitely not the last.

  • ❀Julie
    2019-01-26 21:54

    I’m going with 5 stars since three days after finishing, I’m still thinking about how good this book was. It had me completely captivated from start to finish. The story was subtle but chilling, with many layers of tragedy and dark elements (a cemetery, rats, and a disturbing priest to name a few…not to mention the suspicion of the sanity of the main character). But the writing was beautiful and not a single word was wasted. I loved the gothic-like atmosphere that was created and how it tied in with the dark themes and symbolism throughout. There were two narrators with distinct voices, both of which I was equally eager to read as they alternated in the story. They gave such intimate accounts of their lives and the horrific and sad times they had experienced, that it felt more like reading the memoirs of real people. This was a slower read for me—which I didn’t mind—because the pace was steady with just enough suspense to keep it intriguing...until towards the end when the intensity grew to where I could not put it down. I loved how it all came together in the end.

  • Carol
    2019-01-23 22:27

    The author slowly weaves together two heart-wrenching and tragic versions of the life of Roseanne McNulty, a 100-year old woman residing (for much of her adult life) in a psychiatric asylum. The first version is Roseanne’s own elusive and often unreliable past recollection, recorded in her secret journal, hidden in the floorboards of her room. Another version is slowly revealed by her psychiatrist; Dr. Grene, as he investigates her sketchy past records and evaluates her suitability for release into the community.Both accounts of Roseanne’s shattering life history gradually reveal more than the mystery of her long-term confinement in a mental hospital. Roseanne also recalls the turmoil following the Irish Civil War as well as the abusive power of a parish priest. It is a beautifully rendered Irish tale that will haunt me for some time to come. I listened to an audio version of this story and I was mesmerized by the narrator’s captivating Irish brogue. The narrator, along with this author’s lyrical prose, gives a voice to all of those women unjustly institutionalized in early 20th century Ireland.

  • Paula Kalin
    2019-01-20 19:53

    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 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 ANGRY.Set after the Irish Civil War, Roseanne Clear McNulty is about to turn 100 years 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 quite 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 authors.If you 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 miss.Highly recommend.5 out of 5 stars

  • Kate
    2019-02-09 17:47

    First, if you're going to read this, please don't read the goodreads description.I can't say this with absolute certainty, having read none of the other novels, but considering what I've heard about the Booker shortlist I'm surprised this didn't win. I guess it's part of the Booker's recent campaign to honor what is "fresh" and "important" rather than, you know. Good.This book didn't change my world, but it was good. It's made up mostly of recollections by its very elderly narrator, but the way it uses (perhaps unreliable) memory isn't like, say, Ishiguro, who uses gradual revelations to turn a story on its head. There are surprises (or not, if you are the sort of person who guesses everything before you're told), but the surprises aren't supposed to make you think you've been had.It's wonderfully written, if a tad on the dreamy side in occasional spots, and the story is fairly absorbing. I think I would have gotten a lot more out of it if I knew more about Irish history, but nonetheless I was hooked the whole way through, and enjoyed it a bunch.I read A Long Long Way (also by Sebastian Barry) a couple of years ago, and really enjoyed that book as well. I didn't need a reminder that he's a good writer, but reading The Secret Scripture told me that he's not a one-trick pony. Maybe that's the wrong word, because A Long, Long Way, with its very linear plot and straightforward, honest descriptions, doesn't really have any tricks. The Secret Scripture has tricks, but they don't overwhelm the piece - Barry is not a gimmickist. I guess the worst you could say of him is that he sometimes strays into the whimsical. He is also a poet, and you can tell.

  • Cathrine ☯️
    2019-02-04 23:30

    4★"Roseanne had always lived on the edges of our known world...'This is a decent place, if not home. If this were home I would go mad!'"How gracious she is to say that when a mental institution is a kinder place than home. What exactly happened to her and who's version of the retelling can you trust? A psychological mystery weaving back and forth in time over a period of almost 90 years, I had different sensations reading this atmospheric tale. Not a long book but the pacing got a bit monotonous midway through. Old women take their time telling their stories. Exquisite prose (sigh). "It was a silence like a hole with a sucking wind in it."It was so bleak. It was so sad. The book blurb says "a vivid reminder of the stranglehold that the Catholic Church had on individual lives for much of the twentieth century." True, but if you want my version, I would say a vivid reminder of how men have had a stranglehold on women in particular for much of history; not surprisingly the human sexual response taking the starring role. Tragically this is not an isolated tale but one repeated over and over all over the globe into 2015 depending on where you had the luck or misfortune to be born.Finishing up I felt like I had just walked through a haunted house. A real haunted house.

  • Eva Mitnick
    2019-01-27 22:41

    Whew, Irish literature is always so painful to read. Brutality, cruelty, pathos, religion - set against a backdrop of famine and war. The smooth-as-fine-whiskey writing and the completely beguiling character of Roseanne - a 100-year-old woman who gives us an intimate glimpse into not only her tumultuous history but also her inner girlish self - kept me reading, even when I didn't want to know what bad thing would happen next. Dr. Grene is more down-to-earth, but he has his own contemplative side that I found quite appealing. The twist at the end was to me unnecessary and caused me to roll my eyes a tad - but all is forgiven.

  • Solistas
    2019-02-17 00:45

    "...Εντέλει ο κόσμος είναι στ'αλήθεια θαυμάσιος κι αν ήμασταν ένα οποιοδήποτε άλλο πλάσμα και όχι άνθρωποι ίσως και να 'μασταν αδιάκοπα ευτυχείς".Ένα υπέροχο κομψοτέχνημα είναι Η μυστική γραφή, έργο ενός μεγάλου στιλίστα και χωρίς αμφιβολία και μεγάλου συγγραφέα. Απ'αυτούς που παίρνουν μια μάλλον προβλέψιμη πλοκή και τη μετατρέπουν σε ένα μαγικό βιβλίο που έχει για πρωταγωνίστρια μια απ'τις πλέον δυνατές ηρωίδες που έχω συναντήσει τα τελευταία χρόνια στα βιβλία που επιλέγω να διαβάσω, τη φοβερή Ροσίν Κλίαρ.Η Ροσίν, 100 χρονών κ έγκλειστη για τουλάχιστον 60 χρόνια σε μια ψυχιατρική κλινική, ξεκινάει μια καταγραφή της ζωής της δίνοντας μια συνεχή μάχη με τη μνήμη της που παλεύει να επικρατήσει της φαντασίας της. Την ίδια στιγμή, o διευθυντής της κλινικής κάνει το ίδιο,προσπαθώντας να βρει τρόπο να ξεπεράσει το πένθος της πρόσφατης απώλειας της συζύγου του, ενώ ταυτόχρονα λόγω της επικείμενης μετακόμισης του ιδρύματος σε νέο κτίριο, ερευνά τη ζωή της Ροσίν με δικαιολογία ότι πρέπει να αποφασίσει ποιοι απ'τους ασθενείς του πρέπει να παραμείνουν στο ίδρυμα και ποιοι να αφεθούν ελεύθεροιΗ Μυστική Γραφή μπορεί να χαρακτηριστεί ψυχολογικο θρίλερ αλλά δεν είναι ακριβώς, για τον απλούστατο λόγο ότι ο Μπάρυ έχει έναν δικό του βαθιά εσωτερικό ρυθμό στη γραφή, γεγονός που ίσως δυσκολέψει στην αρχή τους επίδοξους αναγνώστες, αλλά αξίζει κ με το παραπάνω τον κόπο, πρόκειται για ένα πραγματικά πανέμορφο βιβλίο."Έρχεται μια στιγμή στη ζωή κάθε χτυπημένου παιδιού που το μυαλό του παραιτείται απ'την αξιοπρέπεια -αποδιώχνοντας κάθε ελπίδα της, όπως βάρκα δίχως κωπηλάτη, και αφήνεται να το παρασύρει το ρέμα, και αφήνεται στη βίτσα που πονα. Απάνθρωπη αλήθεια, διότι το παιδί δεν μπορεί να κάνει κι αλλιώς. Το παιδί ποτέ δε γράφει μοναχό του την ιστορία του. Αυτό, φαντάζομαι, είναι κοινός τόπος".Το μοναδικό κρίμα του βιβλίου είναι ότι ο Καστανιώτης δεν επέλεξε να γράψει μισή σελίδα για την ιστορία της Ιρλανδίας στις αρχές του 20ου αιώνα, τα βασικά γεγονότα που είναι απαραίτητα για να καταλάβει ο αναγνώστης τους λόγους που κυνηγήθηκε τόσο πολύ η οικογένεια της Ροσίν, όπως επίσης κι ότι το κείμενο του Μπάρι ξεπερνά κατά πολύ τη μεταφραστική ικανότητα του Κορτώ και ασθμαίνει σε πολλά σημεία που ο Κορτώ αγκομαχά να μεταφέρει το ρυθμό του συγγραφέα. Του άξιζε καλύτερος μεταφραστήςΣυστήνεται ανεπιφύλακτα όμως4.5*

  • Julie
    2019-02-03 17:46

    Sligo made me and Sligo undid me, but then I should have given up much sooner than I did being made or undone by human towns, and looked to myself alone. The terror and hurt in my story happened because when I was young I thought others were the author 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.~~~~~My father's happiness not only redeemed him, but drove him to stories, and keeps him even now alive in me, like a second and more pleasing soul within my poor soul.~~~~~There are things that move in arcs so great that they are as good as invisible. The baby sees a star winking in the dark night window, and puts out his hand to hold it. So my father struggled to grasp things that were in truth far beyond his reach, and indeed when they showed their lights were already old and done. ~~~~~In these simple quotes, in Barry's own words, I have summed up the novel, and my feelings for it. To add much more to this narrative would be superfluous. These are the stories that are imprinted in my DNA, I think. I gravitate towards them and find myself like a thirsty soul whose thirst is only quenched by these stories of Ireland: the duality of hope and despair, in one breath. It should go without saying ... 5 stars, only because I don't have more to give.

  • Britany
    2019-01-30 16:49

    Really wanted to like this one-- the summary sounded like something I would fall right into-- but alas, I trudged, slugged, and finally finished this book. Disappointed that I never connected to the characters or the story at all, surprised to find myself at this end of the spectrum when so many others enjoyed this one.Roseanne Clear has been living in Roscommon- a mental facility for the past 80 some odd years. Roscommon is being demolished and Dr. Grene is tasked with figuring out which patients need to stay and move to another facility and which patients were mistakenly diagnosed and can move on to the rest of the world. As he delicately attempts to figure out Roseanne, she tells her story too. Grim and heartbreaking as it was-- hard to find this emotion when the connection was lacking.

  • Connie (Ava Catherine)
    2019-01-26 23:57

    Sebastian Barry is an Irish author who writes with lyricism that makes his prose sing. Reading a book by Barry is a sheer joy.Confined to an Irish mental institution as a young woman for social reasons, the reader meets Roseane Cleary McNulty as an old woman writing her life story in a journal, which she hides under the floor in her room in the same mental institution. She has been a resident in the asylum for so long that no one knows why she was committed or how old she really is. The "secret scripture" is the title of Roseanne's story of her life. While Roseanne's story is unfolding, a psychiatrist in charge of the asylum begins interviewing Roseanne and the other older patients to decide where to place them.In the end, the two plot lines come together in a very seamless and surprising way. This is one of my very favorite books, and I highly recommend it.

  • Dolors
    2019-02-02 21:54

    A slow but compelling thriller which covers the mysterious circumstances of an interned patient in a mental hospital in rural 40s Ireland.The supposedly "disturbed" character, Roseanne, now a hundred years old, and who has been interned for more than 50 years, is writing a secret journal in which she tells, little by little, the real story of her life. It's a sad but smartly and touching account of an extremely beautiful young woman who is cheated by the social system of her time. A society that has just come out of a Civil War and which is preparing for the Second World War. A society in which blaming innocent people out of spite is the normal way, just because you are different. The narrator, in this case Roseanne, makes the reader feel like a privileged witness of the unfairness of it all, especially of the doomed intervention of the Catholic Church and its deviated and intransigent leaders.At the same time, we follow the also miserable life of the patient's Psychiatrist, Dr. Grene, who has been taking care of Roseanne for the last 20 years. He is investigating all the interned patients as it seems the mental hospital is to be shut down and only the really disturbed patients will go to the new settlement.When he starts digging into Roseanne's past, his interest is picked and a peculiar and vivid relationship starts to grow between these two characters, leading the story to a great and unexpected culmination with such a magnificent turn of the story that it makes up for the first slower chapters.I would say the book gives you a big reward for your perseverance, as the end is really worth it; but this is not a light and easy reading. A good book nonetheless.Some great quotations:"After all, the world is indeed beautiful and if we were any other creature than man we might be continuously happy in it""It is sometimes I think the strain of ridiculousness in a person, a ridiculousness born maybe of desperation, that pierces you through with love for that person""He was merely floating there in the room, insubstantial, a living man in the midst of life, dying imperceptibly on his feet, like all of us""Little sins of omission that loom large now""A healthy person might be content with life as a quality in itself, and look to the passing of the years, and the gaining of age, and then great age, with interest. But I am miserable before the task""It is worthless talking about what we have been spared by death. Death grins at that I am sure. Death of all creation knows the value of life""Can you love a man you only knew - in the Biblical sense - for a night? I do not know. But there was love there, gentle, fierce, proper love. God forgive me""They are the old ones, they are the club that no one wants to join. But we are never old to ourselves. That is because at close of day the ship we sail in is the soul, not the body"

  • Chrissie
    2019-02-09 16:50

    I enjoyed this book while I was reading it; emotions and ideas are wonderfully expressed. I am saying I loved the writing. Then came the end! I had been warned that it was bad, but the ending is so terribly bad that it is hard to imagine a worse ending. It is so improbable! Not just in one respect, but in absolutely everything that is left to be resolved. It just wrecks the whole story. The only good point is that the ending is pretty quick; it doesn't take up too many pages of the novel.Otherwise, I thought the book well captured the extent to which all people living in Ireland during the 20th century were drawn into the country’s political and religious conflicts. While not focusing directly on the conflicts, it shows remarkably well how they affected the common man. This aspect of the story I appreciated. A word of warning though, it is by no means a cheery tale. The story is told by two characters. Roseanne McNulty is about one hundred years old. She is writing a journal and hiding it under the floor boards in her nursing home / insane asylum. Her psychiatric doctor is telling us the story too. The asylum is to be closed, and it is his job to determine which of the patients are to be “freed”. He is particularly attracted to the tale of Roseanne’s life. It is acknowledged that in times past patients had been classified as insane not for psychological problems but rather for social, political and religious reasons.The audiobook is narrated by Stephen Hogan. In a book such as this, which switches between two tellings of given events, it is important that one can easily distinguish between the two. Most chapter titles do indicate whose view is being told, but when you stop and start an audiobook this information is not easily available. A lengthy pause between parts would have helped, or different intonations or even two separate narrators could have been used. Do not read the following spoiler if you intend on reading the book. (view spoiler)[The doctor turns out to be Roseanne’s son! On top of that, Roseanne’s ward assistant, who is mentally impaired, is a son of one of Roseanne’s earlier attachments.(hide spoiler)] Improbabilities and coincidences abound and eradicate believability. You kick yourself because you are given hints along the way, but you disregard them because where they lead seems so far-fetched.This book is, I guess, worth reading, though I am still trying to get over the ending!

  • Teresa
    2019-01-28 19:48

    There's something about this book I didn't love as much as I did its sort-of-prequel The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty. But still I liked this one a lot, the way the slow beginning sets the scene for the wonderful middle sections. I felt disappointed by the later sections, though I thought the last line of the book was absolutely perfect. Perhaps it's simply the absence of Roseanne's voice later on that I missed, though it's not that I disliked the other narrator -- I just liked Roseanne so much more and missed her when she wasn't on the page. I also lost a little bit of interest near the end, when everything started to be resolved -- perhaps I liked my speculations more. And though I was still granted my speculations, I felt the psychiatrist's (the other narrator besides Roseanne) discoveries and thoughts were too intrusive to my 'job' as a reader, too much there.The theme of memory (intertwined with the theme of history here) is one of my absolute favorites, so I did appreciate that, along with Barry's imagery, language and style, which are beautiful, as always.

  • Srividya
    2019-02-06 17:53

    “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.” So begins Sebastian Barry’s saga of a woman and history of a land that is known for its myths and vibrant story telling. I am not usually a person who notices first lines. I know it is blasphemy in the world of readers and reading but very few first lines make me want to quote them. This is definitely one of those that struck a chord with my heart and made me read it twice. Life, as we know it, is full of mysteries, secrets, opportunities – missed and taken, betrayals, survival, in short happenings; life is a story that needs to be told, no matter how simple or complicated it is. Where it is simple, the simplicity beguiles us into believing that normal lives do exist but where it is complicated, we are captivated by the strength and survival of the person. Whatever be the case, history, especially that of a person, intrigues and allures us, more so if it is written well. On all these counts and more, Sebastian Barry’s book succeeds and does so in a truly beautiful manner. “It is not history. But I am beginning to wonder strongly what is the nature of history. Is it only memory in decent sentences, and if so, how reliable is it? I would suggest, not very. And that therefore most truth and fact offered by these syntactical means is treacherous and unreliable. And yet I recognise that we live our lives, and even keep our sanity, by the lights of this treachery and this unreliability, just as we build our love of country on these paper worlds of misapprehension and untruth. Perhaps this is our nature, and perhaps unaccountably it is part of our glory as a creature, that we can build our best and most permanent buildings on foundations of utter dust.”Barry’s Roseanne is definitely an unreliable narrator, which I guess is the reason for her being an intriguing one. Through the penning of her memoir for the sake of history not being lost, Roseanne tells a tale that is majestic in nature whilst also being quite horrifying at times in content. Not only does she account her own personal history but strewn in these pages is also the history of Ireland and the influence of the Irish Church on the people of Ireland. What we have here is a tantalizing mix of fantasy combined with harsh reality that transforms into a story that is both compelling and disturbing whilst also being extremely informative. In a matter of few pages, Barry takes us into the heart of Ireland and the Irish Rebellion through the narrative of a single person’s life. You are exposed to war, ostracism, survival, betrayal, general apathy and much more in these pages, so that when you come out, you are definitely changed. Roseanne is nearly 100 years old when she starts penning her memoir and her only friend or visitor is the doctor at the asylum where she lives, Dr. Grene. Ever suspicious of others who act good in front of her, she pens this down in secret, wishing that someday this memoir would be found and her story be known to others. Beginning in a small town called Sligo, Roseanne starts her journey with her parents, a loving father and a reticent mother, in a family full of love if sometimes wanting for pennies. Belonging to the Presbyterian sect in an otherwise Catholic Ireland is not without its own set of problems as we can see from Roseanne’s narrative. Right from treating the fact that her Presbyterian father was a superintendent in a Catholic graveyard as an honour to the constant justifications given towards how he was a good man; Roseanne’s narrative shows the slant of people towards religious subsects that do not fall under the main. The narrative is also peppered with the distrust that people showed towards others who were not Catholics. Religion and its influence on the Irish people at that time is one of the central themes in this novel by Sebastian Barry and I have to say that it is informative whilst not being overdramatic. “My own story, anyone's own story, is always told against me, even what I myself am writing here, because I have no heroic history to offer. There is no difficulty not of my own making.”And Roseanne’s story is definitely a complicated one, where there are myriad interpretations and so many unreliable statements that it is often difficult to sift the truth from the lies or the misrepresentations. Was she the victim? Yes, she certainly was! Was she the perpetrator? Maybe, she was that as well! Was she innocent? Another maybe, because history as we know is not what one experiences alone but is a part of the whole that is experienced by many others along with us. Our stories are never ours completely, they are a mix of our experiences along with the interpretations of others. When we start to pen down our own story, it is obvious that we would take a certain stand. However, when another writes our story, it could be interpreted differently. So also is the case with Roseanne. There are certain gaps in her memories or rather incidents that she chose to interpret differently, maybe because of her innocence or due to the fact that she wanted to play it in the right light, one is not sure; the fact however remains that there are certain differences in opinion, which makes her unreliable. However, this unreliability is not present throughout and this is what makes it intriguing. “There are some sufferings that we seem as a creature to forget, or we would never survive as a creature among all the other creatures.”And suffer she did, in a million ways, and yet she survived and I guess you could also call her the winner. Religion, more specifically, the Irish Catholic Church, was the bane of her existence. Why? Because she was a Presbyterian and hadn’t accepted to convert to Catholicism when prompted and in the manner they prompted. Always being susceptible to suspicion, Roseanne chose to live her life the way she wanted to live. Deprived of a father at a very young age through death and saddled with a mother who was lost in her own world, Roseanne is the epitome of strength and survival. She does not call herself a victim, not once, even when things get hard for her. She simply puts one foot forward and marches on in the best way that she can. Oh yes, she is victimized and singled out but she doesn’t make herself to be one. Finding love in such a situation can be difficult but finds love she does and in a way that is almost fantastical. What role does that love play in her life? Does it strengthen or does it weaken her resolve? Well, I will let you read the book and find out. Suffice to say that she lived to tell her tale and what a tale it was!Two other characters are of great importance in this book, Fr. Gaunt and Dr. Grene. One comes into her life early on and influences its path while the other comes in much later but is nevertheless important. Through Fr. Gaunt, we are exposed to the religion and its influence on people and the politics of Ireland in those days. These are extremely illuminating passages that are both fascinating and horrifying. That the Church influenced the people of Ireland is a well known fact but through the memories of Roseanne and her interactions with Fr. Gaunt, we get to know the extent to which the Church goes to ensure its place in the hearts and minds of the people. In a book that is full of personal memories, villains are manifold, the chief in Roseanne’s case being religion and orthodoxy. Where fighting a human is possible, fighting a way of living can be quite difficult, especially when you aren’t really fighting it but it only seems to others as if you are. The treachery, the betrayals, the endless and unnecessary suffering that humans go through for the sake or maybe because of religion is outlined in the pages of these books, which while understandable given the times, it is nevertheless heart wrenching. The second main character is Dr. Grene, a doctor at the mental asylum where Roseanne has been living for a very long time. Through Dr. Grene we get to know of the general apathy towards these institutions and the people committed within. While apathy towards such patients is universal, the sheer lack of knowledge regarding each case, especially with regard to their personal and medical history is quite appalling. Despite being almost 100 and despite having lived for a long time in Roscommon asylum, the doctor is not aware of her story. That is something I found quite surprising but quite believable, given that neglect is one of the common complaints in these institutions. Facing a traumatic situation in his life, the doctor and Roseanne interact with each other, often through words and often merely by their presence, which I believe is one of the most beautiful parts of this book. Silence as we know is far louder than words and this is signified beautifully through Barry’s prose and these two characters. Understanding each other and their mutual histories is a journey that takes them to paths unknown, forgotten and yet quite captivating, enticing the readers into a world that is fantastic whilst not being melodramatic. Barry has often had to tread that thin line between creating drama while ensuring that it doesn’t transgress beyond the scope of reality and I have to say that he has achieved it with aplomb.“That place where I was born was a cold town. Even the mountains stood away. They were not sure, no more than me, of that dark spot, those same mountains.There was a black river that flowed through the town, and if it had no grace for mortal beings, it did for swans, and many swans resorted there, and even rode the river like some kind of plunging animal, in floods.”If you thought Barry’s story line and characters were the only good things about this book, think again. Mesmerising prose is one of the strongest points of this book. Locales, events, thoughts, feelings, almost everything is described in a lilting manner that speaks in poetry to the reader. The smooth tones of Irish whiskey reflect in Barry’s prose making it both magical and alive. The bleakness of the region, the anger of the rebellion, the quaintness of the customs, the essence of religion, the mood of the times, the apathy towards women, the dictates of the Church; all are conveyed exquisitely through the simple yet lyrical prose, making you experience a cornucopia of emotions and feelings. This is a life story and as such you will find all the required elements in this – truth, lies, deceit, betrayal, suffering, love, family, just about everything, including a villain of sorts. But being a life story, it also has a small problem – the end. Most life stories don’t end in the fantastical way like this one. While it is not really a major problem, it definitely gave me some grouse as I wanted something different, something that was not stereotypical in nature. Maybe I am being a nitpick here and trying to find faults in an otherwise faultless book, it’s possible. Nevertheless, I felt that the ending was a wee bit disappointing, not a big issue but definitely one that I couldn’t ignore, especially certain aspects of it. However, despite that small irk, I still felt the book was great and definitely worthy of all the praise it can get.Roseanne’s journey while being quite ordinary for the times in which it was lived is nevertheless one worth reading and experiencing. When combined with Barry’s exquisite prose, it transforms into a rare pearl that is definitely worth seeking. I, for one, am quite happy that I took this journey and am looking forward to reading more of the author’s works. While I do that, why don’t you give this book a chance? Who knows you might end up liking it as well!

  • ☮Karen
    2019-02-12 17:56

    Wavering between 4 and 5 stars here. I loved this book and I am certain I would have loved it even more with a printed page in front of me rather than an MP3 version, where what tried to be an Irish accent sorely failed in my opinion. There is a big twist at the end, which of course raised it up a full rating point for me. I think that twist answered so many questions, yet I still have many and am certain again that I would find those answers on the printed page. It is a beautiful, sad story that is told, and illustrates that history can be seen as fact or as fiction, depending on who is telling it, as any historian, or genealogist, can attest. Or Dr. Grene in this case:I am beginning to wonder strongly what is the nature of history. Is it only memory and decent sentences and if so, how reliable is it? I would suggest, not very. And that therefore most truth and fact offered by these syntactical means is treacherous and unreliable. And don't forget dangerous, unfortunate, and just sad.

  • Chris_P
    2019-02-11 00:38

    3.5, actually.There's something extraordinary about The Secret Scripture. It's not the touching, if a bit predictable and far-fetched storyline, nor the fact that it's set in rural Ireland which is fascinating to say the least. What's extraordinary about Barry's novel is the lyrical, often poetic even, prose which makes such a beguiling match with the aforementioned setting, that the storyline becomes a secondary matter. That's not to say the story is bad, mind you. Quite the contrary. It's touching, dramatic and keeps the reader's interest steadily high at all times. However, like I said, I found it a little predictable, although not enough so to ruin the whole experience. Besides, I really liked the way it developed and how you can't really tell if the narrators are reliable.The last thing I'd like to point out is the fact that the two narrators "sound" a lot like one another, to the degree of using the same -otherwise dinstinct- figures of speech. This is something that actually surprised me since Barry seems to be an extremely talented writer, and made my mind search the answer in more "extreme" places, making various assumptions.Despite my objections, I still think The Secret Scripture is a great novel, totally worthy of the time I dedicated and which made me want to read more by Sebastian Barry. Bonus points for being the reason for me to enquire about the Irish Civil War.

  • Viv JM
    2019-02-15 00:37

    Roseanne McNulty is a 100 year old patient at the Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital. The hospital is due to be closed down and psychiatrist Dr Grene is charged with assessing Roseanne and determining why she was committed and whether she should be able to return to the community. Through the journals of both Roseanne and Dr Grene, we come to learn more about her history, which is entangled with the troubled history of Ireland and of the Catholic Church. A friendship develops between the doctor and Roseanne, and the story gradually reveals how their paths intersect.I found The Secret Scripture to be a beautifully written and very moving book. It is very thought provoking, especially in relation to the reliability of history and memory. I loved this quote in particular:For history, as far as I can see is not the arrangement of what happens, in sequence and in truth, but a fabulous arrangement of surmises and guesses held up as a banner against the assault of withering truth.

  • Barbara
    2019-01-30 22:51

    I "reread" this via audiobook. This is an excellent way to read this book as the story is primarily narration by Roseanne Clear and Dr. William Grene, psychiatrist at the Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital. Roseanne's story takes the entire book to be revealed, and is full of personal and family secrets. The reason for Roseanne confinement is one of those secrets or mysteries. This was the era when women were confined to mental hospitals and Magdelene laundries for their "sins", often the sin of being too beautiful. And throughout the story, the reader is reminded that Roseanne was a stunningly beautiful woman. Sebastian Barry's novels revolve around the McNulty family who are part of Roseanne's story as well going back to the Irish Civil War. The Secret Scripture has been made into a film directed by Jim Sheridan, to be released soon. Compelling story of a woman who was institutionalized in Ireland, and the mystery of her disappearance.