Secret Scripture, The

by Sebastian Barry | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780571239610 Global Overview for this book
Registered by DrCris of Templestowe, Victoria Australia on 11/5/2008
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9 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by DrCris from Templestowe, Victoria Australia on Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Registered for 2008 Booker Shortlist Challenge.

Blurb:
Roseanne McNulty, perhaps nearing her one-hundredth birthday - no one is quite sure - faces an uncertain future, as the Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital where she's spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks often with her psychiatrist, Dr Grene. This relationship, guarded but trusting after so many years, intensifies and complicates as Dr Grene mourns the death of his wife.

The order for this bookring will be:
1. Starlight
2. tqd
3. miss-jo
4. Sujie
5. Goodthinkingmax
6. Fleebo
7. Freepages
8. Livrecache
9. jubby

Please let me know if I have forgotten anyone!

Journal Entry 2 by DrCris from Templestowe, Victoria Australia on Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I have tried to start this book, but I kept getting distracted. I have a huge pile of bookrings waiting to be read, so I will send it on its way and read it when it returns. This is not my favourite way to do this, as I like to read the JE's as they come in, but it is getting necessary!

Journal Entry 3 by star-light from Melbourne CBD, Victoria Australia on Sunday, January 18, 2009
This arrived a couple of days ago. Thanks DrCris. I liked A Long Long Way from the 2005 shortlist so I look forward to reading this one.

Journal Entry 4 by star-light from Melbourne CBD, Victoria Australia on Thursday, February 19, 2009
My thoughts for this were similar to my thoughts for many other Bookers I have read. The writing was wonderful, but the story and characters didn't engage me. I found it implausible that a woman around 100 years old would write her memoirs so eloquently, but eventually I managed to put aside my disbelief. The problem for me was the way the story kept moving between the past and present, and changing narrators between Roseanne and Dr Grene. Whenever I started to get into the story of Roseanne's sad life, the story would jump back to present-day events at the mental hospital, or the current events in Dr Grene's life. That was frustrating. I realise Barry structured the book that way to make the reader question the reliability of the narrator, but I wished he had stuck to telling the story from one point of view and not tried to be so clever.

tqd had too many books already and asked to be skipped, so I've sent this to miss-jo.

Journal Entry 5 by miss-jo from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Sunday, February 22, 2009
Received today, thanks star-light. I have no other bookrings atm so hopefully I'll get to it quickly.

Journal Entry 6 by miss-jo from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Monday, March 02, 2009
I should have known I'd find this one slow going - I never managed to finish A Long Long Way, despite being fascinated by the subject matter. I did finish Secret Scripture, but I really only got into it in Part 3. That was the point where I engaged with the characters enough to care what happened. Of course, you know she's in an asylum so I knew that what happened couldn't be good. But at least I wanted to know.

I'll pm Jubby today, see if she's up for another.

Journal Entry 7 by Sujie from Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, March 05, 2009
Obviously skipping jubby, this arrived at my place today. Thanks, miss-jo...it looks a bit daunting. I'm reading Orhan Pamuk's Snow at the moment so I wonder if I can cope with two books full of sadness.

Journal Entry 8 by Sujie from Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales Australia on Sunday, March 22, 2009
The answer to the above is ...no. Both "Snow" and this one have been picked up and put down for so long I have to admit defeat. Are all the Booker listed books this heavy and sad?
Real life is too hectic for my poor iron filings to cope with anything but frivolous fare right now.
Thanks anyway, Dr Cris.
Pming goodthinkingmax.

Journal Entry 9 by Sujie from Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, April 09, 2009
Sorry, mistakenly thought I'd pm-ed goodthinkingmax....and I haven't. Sorry to hold this one up, DrCris and gtm.

Journal Entry 10 by goodthinkingmax from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, July 30, 2009
I enjoyed this but am certainly wondering if it belongs on the Booker list. After all, it seems far too accessible. I agree with Starlight that sometimes I felt a bit jarred when Roseanne's narration was interrupted by the doctor. The plot was pageturning for me and was set in an unfamiliar locale and time and I certainly wanted to know what happened next. Not a lot of subtext here beyond the history and calamities or did I miss something vital? Will pass on to Fleebo soon.

Journal Entry 11 by Fleebo on Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Received from goodthinkingmax. Thank you!

Journal Entry 12 by Fleebo on Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I suppose that Mr. Barry should be proud that he's made me cry in two out of two books so far. I suppose.

I had nothing but hate for the priest. Dr. Grene's assessment of him as a woman-hater and "so sane that it makes sanity undesirable" was spot on. And of course he believed himself to be absolutely righteous.
I realise that the whole story was constructed around the facts/memories leading to Dr. Grene's revelation, but it still felt contrived to me. Sean's plan had gone off too perfectly, for someone who had been hit on the head as a baby.
After I finished the book I started thinking about certain people in my own family, making me sad all over again... I am not going to go into the details here on the internet.
Very readable, not as crushingly sad as previous Booker contender by this author, "A Long Long Way", but not as good, either.

Journal Entry 13 by Fleebo on Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Posting to tqd, who was skipped earlier in the ring.

Journal Entry 14 by tqd from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Friday, October 23, 2009
Thanks fleebo! I have been looking forward to this one, and will get to it asap.

Journal Entry 15 by tqd from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I had high hopes for this one, as it was a Booker shortlisted book (and I've had some good luck with them lately), and had been highly recommended by a fellow member of one of my bookgroups. Alas, I was disappointed.

Set at the beginning of the new century (millennium!) in Slough, an old insane asylum is being prepared to be pulled down, which means the inmates will need to find new homes in the new hospital. Unfortunately, that is smaller than the current dilapidated building, so some people will need to be reassessed for community living. Mrs Roseanne McNulty is almost 100 years old, and has been in the asylum for most of her life. As the book progresses, we find out about her past, and what caused her to be incarcerated. As a parallel story, we get notes from Dr Grene who is assessing all the patients and who becomes a friend to Roseanne as they talk over her life.

Unfortunately, it just doesn't ever really gel. I didn't really care about Dr Grene, and found Roseanne's story quite unbelievable. I'm sure it's all based it truth, but it just never really felt real to me, which is a major flaw for a novel. And then there's one of the most gobsmacking coincidences towards the end that had me almost wanting to throw the book across the room. I was even quite tempted to just skim the last 100 or so pages, but kept at it.

Probably the most interesting bit was the discrepancy between Roseanne's memories and the paperwork about her that Dr Grene manages to dig up (apart from the papers that the mice have nibbled). Did Roseanne - consciously or otherwise - rewrite her memories? Or were the facts rewritten by the authorities? But even then I just wasn't really interested in the discussion that Sebastian Barry wanted to have over them.

I'm sorry I didn't like this one more. It had a lot of interesting concepts, but it just never really came together into a whole that I could enjoy reading.

I have FreePages' address, and will pop this in the post asap. Thanks for sharing, DrCris! I'm sorry I couldn't enjoy it more.

Journal Entry 16 by tqd at Balmain, New South Wales Australia on Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (1/27/2010 UTC) at Balmain, New South Wales Australia

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And in the mail today to FreePages!

Happy reading!

Journal Entry 17 by FreePages from Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Secret Scripture has arrived!
Thanks for sending it on tqd.

Sounds like I'll have to suspend disbelief with this one, I wonder how it will go...

I still have a mountain of bookrings here but I'm getting through them.
Hope to get to it sooner rather then later.

:-)

Journal Entry 18 by FreePages from Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Thursday, May 20, 2010

Well, I know The Irish don't have a monopoly on woe and misery but they do tell it well. Distinctly an Irish rhythm to the writing, however, with none of "that tis-ing" and such.

I did manage to suspend disbelief through most of it, I think that is essential with this sort of fiction, enough to enjoy it very much. It reminded me a little of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.

Dr Grenes background story was obvious from about the middle of the book, however, the other character twist I was surprised about.
I liked the switch between narrators. Enjoyed the different viewpoints and Dr Grene was able to explain some of the background of the Irish Civil war, although, I think I need to look into it further, still a bit confused about that.

Quite a sweet ending, in a way.

It will be off to livrecache with one other, as soon as I finish it, if she is still interested, I haven't heard from her since her interstate move.

Journal Entry 19 by FreePages at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Thursday, August 19, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (8/19/2010 UTC) at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia

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I've got Livrecache's new Tassy address, so it's off the the apple isle with this one, along with two others.

Enjoy :-)
I hope you get to enjoy the end with this one and survive the Irish woe :-)

Journal Entry 20 by livrecache at Hobart, Tasmania Australia on Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Caught yesterday with two other bookrings. A reading weekend in the country coming up, so I hope to get on to it straight away.

Thanks for sending it on Kim, and thanks to DrCris for starting the ring (in 2008).

Journal Entry 21 by livrecache at Hobart, Tasmania Australia on Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Writing: wonderful
Plot: a good idea
Characters: unengaging
Potential: unrealised

Thanks for sharing, DrCris I shall send this on to Jubby ASAP

Journal Entry 22 by livrecache at Hobart, Tasmania Australia on Thursday, March 10, 2011
I'm so sorry. I still have this book. I have another one or two to send to jubby, so once I have her relatively new address, I'll pass it on.
I don't know where my head was when I commented on this book previously. I just re-read it over the past couple of days. I do feel it was contrived at almost every level, although I did enjoy the unreliable narrator thing (technical term), and it didn't bother me flipping between narrators – except Dr Grene was not interesting.
But dealing with my elderly mother now makes me really, really unable to suspend my belief that Roseanne could write properly, and hide her work effectively. Plus, there were too many co-incidences. Dr Grene was such flat character. His relationship with hs wife was both unbelievable and superfluous.
I was interested in the 'take' on the Irish civil war, but it made me want to check the details – and one shouldn't need to do that in a novel.
However, thank you for sharing DrCris.


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