Friday, August 15, 2008


The word "beautiful" keeps coming into my head to describe this work.

The story is a dark one set in rural Ireland in the 1930's and 1940's. It is the story of Roseanne McNulty, a one hundred-year-old resident of Rosecommon Regional Mental Hospital. Roseanne decides to write the story of her life and keeps it a secret by hiding it under the floorboards of her room. She writes an account of her youth in Sligo, Ireland and what happened that brought her to the asylum so many years ago. She has lived almost all of her adult life within the walls of Rosecommon.

The reader also hears Roseanne's story from the point of view of her psychiatrist, Dr. Grene. He has been asked to evaluate the patients in the institution and to decide whether or not they can return to society when Rosecommon closes it doors within a few months. Dr. Grene feels somehow compelled to discover the story of Roseanne and as her life is brought into focus, two very different versions of her past emerge. In addition to the personal journal Roseanne is keeping, Dr. Grene uncovers a deposition written by the local parish priest that paints a very different story.

Sabastian Barry has written a novel that rings with the beautiful flow of the Irish. His use of language in the novel is an unidentified, powerful character. Barry is a master at painting the scene and making the characters fairly jump off of the page. I was deeply moved by the beauty of the story and the beauty of Sabastian Barry's writing. This is an amazing slice-of-life novel and a thoughtful read. What do you think?

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