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Publisher's Summary

Nearing her 100th birthday, Roseanne McNulty faces an uncertain future, as the Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital where's she spent most of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks with her psychiatrist, Dr. Greene, and their relationship intensifies and complicates.

Told through their respective journals, the story that emerges is at once shocking and deeply beautiful: a secret history of Ireland's changing character and the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance.

Short listed for the Man Booker 2008 Prize

©2008 Sebastian Barry; (P)2008 Oakhill Publishing

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Overall

Grim, and somehow elating..

This story still haunts me a week after I finished the book. I'm not able to focus on the book I'm trying to listen to now, I still have Roseannes voice in my head. Beautifully written, beautifully narrated. I haven't quite made up my mind about the ending though...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Susan
  • Tomewin, NSW, Australia
  • 02-12-13

A story to move even a hardened heart

How does a hidden history in our family affect the life we live. What do the secrets do to us, unbidden. Sebastian Barry writes beautifully, poignantly and with a depth that, in the end made me put my hand to my mouth to supress the gasp as the secrets are unravelled and the truth is finally revealed. There is 100 years of Irish history in this novel, seen through the eyes of Rosanne as she writes down what has never been told of her life. Then there is Dr Green, Rosanne's psychiatrist, who is trying to unwrap her silence gently, respectfully and with dignity.

I am deeply moved by this book and give thanks to Stephen Hogan for giving a voice to both Rosanne and Dr Green. His narration could not have been better and as I listened, his voice became my own voice as the story evolved and stirred the tragedy of Rosanne and of those who had pulled the strings of her life.



  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Disappointed

Would you be willing to try another one of Stephen Hogan’s performances?

Yes - if it was a male person as the key story teller. I felt this was a weakness Rosanne was the main person and it was confusing when you continuously heard a male speaking

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It was a good story but was a bit dark and confusing sometimes

Any additional comments?

No...I have loved all the other audible books

  • Overall
  • Lucie
  • Indian River, Ontario, Canada
  • 04-20-10

Horrid and nasty

This is a horrid and nasty little book which I could not finish. The author needs to take a serious course of antidepressants and not inflict his twaddle on the reading public. The author is a somewhat skilled wordsmith but apparently thinks heaping one tragedy on another without end is writing.
I don't expect a book to have a Hollywood ending but surely there has to be some point to the book other that showing how awful a country Ireland was, how evil the Catholic clergy were and how tragic and meaningless all human life is.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Claire
  • 12-24-12

Excellent

An excellent read, brilliant book. Sensitively reflecting on a tragic wasted life due to narrow minded intolerance and ignorance. I stayed up half the night listening not wanting to stop.

When i finished I listened again straight away as I the story line intertwines and I wanted to clarify the details I enjoyed it more the second time. Haunting and thought provoking.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Patricia
  • 07-26-15

Intriguing story with exceptional narration

I read this book when it was first published and enjoyed it all over again, thanks to the very talented narrator - not to mention the subtlety of the outstanding writing. It's an example of the power of the Catholic Church and its priests in early 20thc Ireland and how it profoundly affects the main character in the story.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking; the social history of the period brilliantly brought to life and it's also very poignant. Highly recommended.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Gillian
  • 05-01-10

wonderful

I enjoyed this book immensely. I was captivated both by the story itself, and the lyricism of the writing. The phrasing feels emphatically Irish, very poetic. The different narratives of the central characters knowingly offer their own slant on events, sometimes questioning the veracity of their own words and acknowledging that their perspective is personal. The narrator is utterly believable, and lovely to listen to. I enjoyed this novel so much, I bought several copies of the paperback for friends and relations, and read it myself again too. One I will keep going back to.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mandy
  • 02-28-09

The Secret Scripture

This is a truly extraordinary book and one which will live on with you long after you have finished reading it. The beautiful, descriptive narrative just unfolds the further you enter into the story. I also thought the reader's voice was perfect, at times beguiling in keeping with the text and at other times sounding as distressed as the key characters. It is also a really clever book, I had no idea where it was going to go next and actually I was happy to be taken along wherever it went. It is also a shocking story however and one which troubled me in the sense of man's capacity to do untold harm to others and to have control of their lives. Deeply, deeply moving and one of the most powerful books I have listened to in years. I have recommended it to everyone! - probably to the point of being annoying - a wonderful woderful book.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Irene
  • 12-02-11

Love this book

Really loved this story and couldn't put it down. It took me two days to finish this one and the ending was not what I expected, really great. Would definately recommend this book.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rebecca
  • 03-09-10

"... I had my 4 dresses on , i was cosy..."

I could have screamed at Roseanne for the way she allowed every man to control her life but actually her character stayed true throughout the book and sometimes even content at the smallest joys. And yes, Helenbunter it does seem farfetched for a woman to wait 8 years to find out her fate but this only goes to show the absolute power of the catholic church and it's priests in Ireland during this period. After all , how do you hide years of abuse? With total control over your unquestioning flock. A great book with many wonderful lyrical passages and descriptions of Sligo.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sam
  • 12-09-09

The Secret Scripture

The harsh reality of living during the Catholic, Protestant rivalry in Ireland! A sad story which was quite depressing, I really had to make myself listen to this and it left me feeling hollow.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Clare
  • 06-11-09

Beautiful

This is a beautifully crafted book, and it captures that rural Irish perception of beauty. It is also beautifully read, capturing the soft lilt of the west Irish brogue. "A terrible beauty"! For within lies the brutality of war, the oppression of rigid morality, and the confusion of truth and memory.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • June
  • 03-20-10

A story which promotes some soul searching

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a bittersweet account of the memories of a 100 year old woman recounted in flashbacks to the Doctor who was checking on her background and why she had been placed in a secure mental home for the past 50 years or more. The author conjured up pictures of Ireland in the early and mid 20th century and the hardships endured by a population of differing religious faiths and backgrounds. I particularly liked the way she remembered her father and the man she loved and how she was betrayed by her husband's father whilst her mother in law seemed to take pity on her but was too frightened to go against her own husband's wishes. Also I enjoyed the relationship she developed with Dr.Green and the not quite unexpected twist at the end of the story. A really good read. I will now look for other books by this author.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Welsh Mafia
  • 12-27-11

The great and the good

This fall somewhere on the continuum between a good novel and a great novel. What is great is the concentration of closely observed emotions and commentary on contemporary Ireland. What is good is the story telling and the narrative flow. So, why is it not all great? Because it relies in large part on stuff that we’ve all heard before - the noble rebel, the treacherous priest, the untameable colleen, Green and Gold become Black and White and in the end the tying together of the threads become all too unbelievable. Glimpses of brilliance but a bit too much chick in this lit.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful