The Secret Scripture

A Novel

Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Secret Scripture
Baker & Taylor
Recording the events of her life from a mental hospital as her hundredth birthday approaches, Roseanne McNulty considers returning to society when she learns that the hospital is about to close, but her situation is complicated by the possibility that Roseanne remembers her life quite differently from what is documented in her patient records. 15,000 first printing.

Blackwell North Amer
When she was a young woman, Roseanne McNulty was one of the most beautiful and beguiling girls in County Sligo, Ireland. Now, as her hundredth year draws near, she is a patient at Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital, and she decides to record the events of her life.
As Roseanne revisits her past, hiding the manuscript beneath the floorboards of her bedroom, she learns that Roscommon Hospital will be closed in a few months and that her caregiver, Dr. Greene, has been asked to evaluate the patients to decide if they can return to society. Roseanne is of particular interest to Dr. Greene, and as he researchers her case he discovers a document written by a local priest that tells a very different story of Roseanne's life from what she recalls. As doctor and patient attempt to understand each other, they begin to uncover long-buried secrets about themselves.
Set against an Ireland besieged by conflict, The Secret Scripture is an epic story of love, betrayal and unavoidable tragedy, and a vivid reminder of the strangle-hold that the Catholic Church had on individual lives throughout much of the twentieth century.

& Taylor

Recording the events of her life from a mental hospital as her hundredth birthday approaches, Roseanne McNulty considers returning to society when she learns that the hospital is about to close.

Publisher: New York : Viking, c2008
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780670019403
Branch Call Number: FIC B
Characteristics: 300 p. ; 22 cm.


From the critics

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Dec 20, 2014
  • Chapel_Hill_KenMc rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Beautifully written study in perspective and the relative terms of sanity and mental health. Women in 1920's Ireland faced a treacherous minefield of sexual repression and two-faced codes of morality, and those who strayed could find themselves confined in asylums.

May 18, 2013
  • druby rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I found the author's writing style really difficult to read. There were many passages I had to read over and over again to understand the meaning.
Having said that I was intrigued from the start. It was interesting how Roseanne's accounts of her life differed from those uncovered by Dr. Grene. I had to read the book to the end to find out the truth and oh what an ending it was! The ending alone made it worth the read.

Dec 26, 2012
  • Jane60201 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

A really interesting and well written book by an Irish author whom I was not aware of. Will look for more by him.

Dec 19, 2012
  • PansyT rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Such a wonderful writer! He is a master of the language, worth reading and re-reading for his turn of phrase alone. Highly recommended.

Sep 18, 2012

Wonderful book, well written. The begining might be a little slow but hang in there it's worth it!

May 17, 2012

Available New Brighton

May 07, 2012
  • Crheneghan rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book and the use of feathers and hammers. It takes a story in order to remember a loved one.

Aug 15, 2011
  • John4516 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I stumbled upon this novel (and novelist) purely by chance. What a lucky break for me. Barry is a compelling writer with a terrific story to tell. I literally could not put it down.

Dec 04, 2010
  • JIS1946 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I discovered this book and it's author, Sebastian Barry, by chance while listening to him being interviewed by the CBC's Eleanor Wachtel. I found the Secret Scripture to be another fascinating story of the Irish history and all it's sad and harsh realities, of the conflicts that run deep within a rich oral culture that resulted from it's attempt to survive amidst the domination of the English landlord class. The way the story is told, namely from the perspective of the one hundred year old Roseanne McNulty, who has decided at her old age to write her story in a secret diary, at times makes it difficult to know if her perspective of her past life is really the way events occurred. However, it helps to know a bit about the history of Ireland's struggle for home rule to try and figure out what is really happening. I found that Barry's writing style has a wonderful way of capturing the tension and conflicts that underpin the narrative. I was so taken by this novel that I had to go and read his other novels. I highly recommend all of his novels.

Sep 07, 2010
  • molly rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Loved it.

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The Secret Scripture
Barry, Sebastian, 1955-
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