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The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry




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The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
Published by Faber in 2008

Roseanne McNulty is almost 100 years old and lives in a mental hospital in Roscommon where she's been most of her adult life. As the hospital prepares for closure, Roseanne frequently meets with her psychiatrist Dr. Grene.
The two begin writing parallel accounts of their meetings, each of which becomes a secret scripture of their lives. Roseanne tells the story of her family in 1930s Sligo and of how she came to be put in the home. Dr. Grene describes his own private anguish, the break-up of his marriage over his single infidelity, and his wife’s death. As Dr. Grene digs deeper into Roseanne's past, her worship of her father, and the reasons she was sent to the hospital, he discovers inconsistencies in her story. The local pastor in Sligo, Father Gaunt, has a different version of what really happened to Roseanne McNulty, but perhaps he has his own reasons for the differences.
Refracted through the haze of memory and retelling, Roseanne's story becomes an alternative, secret history of Ireland's changing character. It is also the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope.
In Roseanne, Sebastian Barry has created one of the most memorable narrators in recent fiction.

'A magnificent and heart-rending novel.' Joseph O'Connor, The Guardian

'This is a superb book about memory and conflicting versions of the past.' Dermot Bolger, The Mail on Sunday (Ireland)

'The Secret Scripture is not at all like its illustrious predecessor but is equally powerful and memorable. It confirms that Sebastian Barry is at the forefront of contemporary Irish fiction.' Matthew Sweeney, The Financial Times

Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955 and currently lives in County Wicklow.
The Secret Scripture was short-listed for the 2008 Booker Prize and was the winner of the 2008 Costa Book of the Year award.

By the same author
Annie Dunne
A Long Long Way
The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty