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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Secret Scripture, Sebastian Barry

When I was in Dublin airport recently I picked out this book to read.  I found the novel quite moving.  It is divided into three parts and into two accounts; Dr Grene's Commonplace Book and Roseanne's Testimony of Herself.  There are twenty two chapters in the novel.

Roseanne Clear is 100 years old and has spent the majority of her life in a mental hospital.  She is telling us of her tragic past.  Dr. Grene is the Senior Psychiatrist of the mental hospital who has a great interest in his patient, Roseanne. 

Ah well I'm glad I wasn't alive in the 1930's in Ireland when the Catholic Church and De Valera ruled the roost.  The character of Father Gaunt is despisable. 

I thought this was lovely:

"We are never old to ourselves because at close of day the ship we sail in is the soul, not the body."

Does anyone know what the author means by this:

"Grief is about two years long, they say, it is a platitude out of manuals for grievers.  But we are in mourning for our mothers before even we are born."

There are some lovely insights in The Secret Scripture and the main character Roseanne or Mrs. McNulty possesses great dignity. 


  1. But we are in mourning for our mothers before even we are born. - Dont know! Before I was born I was quite chirpy!
    Did you find the plot a bit of a dissappointment - in the end? Even so it is still a wonderful read.

  2. ps I left an award for you over at my blog!

  3. I suppose it was too cosy that Dr. Grene and Roseanne were related, but then of course it could be possible. Does he tell her the truth in the end or doesn't he? It's left in his hands, yet isn't it Roseanne's story? Ah my blood boils at certain parts, it annoys me how her life was taken away from her; how she had no control. Heading over to your blog.