Sunday, September 20, 2009

Book 104: The Secret Scripture

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

In a word: Boring. I honestly thought I'd enjoy this novel. It sounded like the kind of plot I would usually like: an old woman looks back on her life in a diary. She has been institutionalized for over sixty years, and her diary tells her life story as well as explains why she is where she is. It also contains the diary entries of her doctor who is trying to determine her mental status and the reasons for her presence in the psychiatric hospital.

Overall, I think it's a story I would have normally liked but the doctor just bored the hell out of me. Also it just seemed so unbelievable to me. Not so much the fact that Roseanne had been institutionalized but that she has been there for over 60 years seeming perfectly lucid, and the doctor in charge never thought to question her diagnosis from over half a century before - really? Also, the writing style just didn't do it for me at all. It just went on and on, and then finally, something interesting would happen. I guess it's supposed to represent the failing of memory and so forth, but it just made the novel drag.

Also, it really irritated me that the back cover of the novel couldn't even get it right: "her turbulent childhood in rural 1930s Ireland" - seriously? The novel clearly states that she was a child during WWI and during some Irish upheaval, and that she was in her twenties in the '30s. If the people publishing the novel can't even bring themselves to care enough about the story to get the details straight, then why should I have any interest?

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