The Secret Scripture

The Secret Scripture

3.81 (18,628 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
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Nearing her one-hundredth birthday, Roseanne McNulty 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, and their relationship intensifies and complicates. Told through their respective journals, the story that emerges is at once shocking and deeply beautiful. Refracted through the haze of memory and retelling, Roseanne's story becomes an alternative, secret history of Ireland's changing character and the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 22mm | 250g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0571215297
  • 9780571215294
  • 18,329

About Sebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955 and educated at The Catholic University School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he was later Writer Fellow in 1996. His plays include Boss Grady's Boys (1988), The Steward of Christendom (1995), Our Lady of Sligo (1998), and The Pride of Parnell Street (2007), and his novels, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), Annie Dunne (2002), and most recently A Long Long Way (2005), which was the Dublin: One City One Book choice for 2007 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Dublin International Impac Prize. He has won among other awards the Irish-America Fund Literary Award, The Christopher Ewart-Biggs Prize, the London Critics Circle Award, and The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize. He lives in Wicklow with his wife Ali and three children, Merlin, Coral and Tobias.
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Rating details

18,628 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 26% (4,809)
4 41% (7,548)
3 24% (4,536)
2 7% (1,318)
1 2% (417)

Our customer reviews

The Secret Scripture is the seventh stand-alone novel by Irish author, Sebastian Barry. Against the background of the imminent closure of an Irish mental facility, an ageing psychiatrist reviews his remaining patients for suitability to re-enter the community at large. Dr William Grene, Senior Pyschiatrist at Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital, is particularly concerned about hundred-year-old Roseanne McNulty, suspecting that her sectioning some sixty-plus years ago, like many others of that era, may have been based on social convenience rather than psychiatric need. Barry sets up his story as twin narrations: "Dr Grene's Commonplace Book" is meant to contain a professional account of the last days of the hospital, but Will includes his personal observations about Roseanne McNulty and the results of his investigations into her admission as well as events, past and present, in his own life; "Roseanne's Testimony of Herself" is a secret memoir that Roseanne writes and keeps hidden, detailing events in her life leading up to her sectioning, along with present day happenings. This novel has a marvellous cast of characters, credible dialogue and a brilliant plot. Astute readers will have twigged to the who and what of the mystery half-way through the novel, but this in no way reduces the enjoyment or the compulsion to continue reading Barry's beautiful prose for the how and why. Barry touches on many topics including the chequered history of mental institutions, the Irish Civil War, the power of the Catholic Church in 20th century Ireland and whether there is such a thing as factual truth (or does it all depend on the accuracy of a person's memory?). This was a great read and I will be looking for the companion works to this one that Barry has written: The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, and Our Lady of more
by Marianne Vincent
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