The Secret Scripture (Hardcover)

By Sebastian Barry

Viking Adult, 9780670019403, 304pp.

Publication Date: June 12, 2008

Fall '09/Winter '10 Reading Group List

“This is a haunting story of memory and how seemingly small decisions can have large consequences. As 100-year-old Roseanne, a patient in a mental institution, tries to reconstruct her life, she realizes that memory is not always reliable, and that truth may not be attainable. In addition to offering readers characters with grace and writing that is mesmerizing, The Secret Scripture invites discussions about what 'truth' is and how cultural circumstances and individual choices define a life.”
— Rona Brinlee, The Book Mark, Atlantic Beach, FL
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July 2008 Indie Next List

“Barry's novel of Roseanne McNulty, now in her hundredth year in an Irish mental hospital, is a haunting story of memory and how small decisions can have large consequences. The writing was such a treat that I actually got to the last page late one night and saved it until the next morning. I didn't want to read it until I was fully awake and could relish the end.”
— Rona Brinlee, The Book Mark, Atlantic Beach, FL
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Description

A gorgeous new novel from the author of the Man Booker finalist A Long Long Way

As a young woman, Roseanne McNulty was one of the most beautiful and beguiling girls in County Sligo, Ireland. Now, as her hundredth year draws near, she is a patient at Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital, and she decides to record the events of her life.

As Roseanne revisits her past, hiding the manuscript beneath the floorboards in her bedroom, she learns that Roscommon Hospital will be closed in a few months and that her caregiver, Dr. Grene, has been asked to evaluate the patients and decide if they can return to society. Roseanne is of particular interest to Dr. Grene, and as he researches her case he discovers a document written by a local priest that tells a very different story of Roseanne's life than what she recalls. As doctor and patient attempt to understand each other, they begin to uncover long-buried secrets about themselves.

Set against an Ireland besieged by conflict, The Secret Scripture is an epic story of love, betrayal, and unavoidable tragedy, and a vivid reminder of the stranglehold that the Catholic Church had on individual lives for much of the twentieth century.



About the Author

Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. His plays include "Boss Grady's Boys" (1988), "The Steward of Christendom" (1995), "Our Lady of Sligo" (1998), "The Pride of Parnell Street" (2007), and "Dallas Sweetman" (2008). Among his novels are "The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty" (1998), "Annie Dunne" (2002) and "A Long Long Way" (2005), the latter shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His poetry includes "The Water-Colourist" (1982), "Fanny Hawke Goes to the Mainland Forever" (1989) and "The Pinkening Boy" (2005). His awards include the Irish-America Fund Literary Award, The Christopher Ewart-Biggs Prize, the London Critics Circle Award, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize, and Costa Awards for Best Novel and Book of the Year. He lives in Wicklow with his wife Ali, and three children, Merlin, Coral, and Tobias.
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