Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

April's book was The Secret Scripture,which was chosen by Marghie. She chose this book because the blurb intrigued her -a 100 year old woman looking back on a past which contained scandal and mystery. Also the Irish setting appealed,as Marghie had spent some time in Sligo. She enjoyed the book although she felt the ending had been "a bit too neat".

Karen enjoyed the language and the dual narrative but found the book depressing. The fire in the orphanage was a strange episode! Comparisons were made to the Magdelen Sisters, in particular the suspicion of the clergy regarding a pretty girl in a small community. June has a good knowledge of 20th century Irish history and for this reason tends to avoid Irish fiction, because, like Karen, she finds it quite depessing. Jen wondered how correct the old lady's version of events was, when often we had conflicting accounts from other characters.

The complexities of Irish politics and religion shaped much of the story, and parallels were drawn with other cultures and religions. Morag was intrigued by the doctor -the author sometimes seemed to forget that this character had lived most of his life in England and at times he came across as "too Irish". Was his strange behaviour due to some hereditary form of madness? There was some discussion of the fact that the book's characters appear in other novels by the author, and the assumption that the reader will be aware of events which are touched upon but not explained. All in all, though, it was felt that this was a good read, with some beautiful passages of prose and a storyline which kept everyone guessing to the end.