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How would you rate this book?
5***** 14%  14%  [ 1 ]
4**** 43%  43%  [ 3 ]
3*** 43%  43%  [ 3 ]
2** 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
1* 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Did not finish 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Total votes : 7
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 Post subject: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 1:08 am 
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Clan Fraser
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An epic story of family, love, and unavoidable tragedy written by the two-time Man Booker Prize finalist, Sebastian Barry.

In The Secret Scripture, Barry revisits County Sligo, Ireland, the setting for his previous three books, to tell the unforgettable story of Roseanne McNulty. Once one of the most beguiling women in Sligo, she is now a resident of Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital and nearing her hundredth year. Set against an Ireland besieged by conflict, The Secret Scripture is an engrossing tale of one woman's life, and a vivid reminder of the stranglehold that the Catholic Church had on individuals throughout much of the twentieth century.


Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books (April 28, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0143115693
ISBN-13: 978-0143115694


Discussion will open on Wednesday, March 22.

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:02 am 
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purple diamond member
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I have it on hold at the library. It sounds interesting. I don't remember if I've read anything by Sebastian Barry. Likely not.


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:54 am 
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Clan Fraser
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Looking forward to it! This author is new to me, but I've heard such good things!

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:43 am 
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Clan Fraser
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I think I read this book many years ago and liked it. Now I just have to dredge up those old memories ...


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:34 pm 
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I too read it a few years ago and will try to participate from memory. I must have given the book to someone cause I don't have it anymore.

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Da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.

Donne-moi mille baisers, et puis cent, et puis mille autres, puis une seconde fois cent, puis encore mille autres, puis cent.


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:19 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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I bought the book because Lady Jayne inspired me to read it. Sounds like an interesting read. I do find that the closer I am to the discussion, the better I recall details. I'll start it the week or so before the discussion.

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:48 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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My library purchased the eaudio version after I requested it, so I'll be listening to it as we get a bit closer to discussion time. If I listen (or read) too early, I forget all the details by the time we are discussing. :scared:


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 5:53 am 
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Clan Fraser

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After reading the blurb I'm pretty sure I've read this book because I remembered the ending! I never throw and rarely give books away so I must have it somewhere as it's not on my Kindle.


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:21 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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The movie version of TSS, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Rooney Mara, Aidan Turner, Eric Bana, and Theo Jones, is planned for release in the coming months. It will be interesting to see how the movie compares to the book.

The novel is beautifully written and provides much food for thought. I look forward to everyone's thoughts about the story and its poetic prose. :)

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:45 am 
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Clan Fraser
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:bagpipe: The Secret Scripture is now open for discussion. :)

Please feel free to talk about any aspect of the book that interested you or left an impression, either positive or negative. I will be back with my comments.


The following are some Reading Guide questions about the book to start off the thought process.

1. Although Roseanne is very reluctant to converse with Dr. Grene about her past, she pours her recollections into her secret journal. Why do you think she is so reticent with regard to the psychiatrist and so blatant in her private revelations?

2. Do you think The Secret Scripture is specifically intended as a story about Ireland and the Irish psyche, or is it a more universal story about issues that affect oppressed people everywhere?

3. The theme of woman as a sexual transgressor and outcast has long engaged writers of fiction from Hawthorne to Hardy and beyond. In what ways, if any, did The Secret Scripture contribute to your understanding of women who are punished for their sexual behavior?

4. Early in the novel, Joe Clear calls Father Gaunt “a good man.” Subsequent events call this judgment gravely into question. Playing devil’s advocate, can you think of reasons for calling Father Gaunt a good man? If so, then why does his “goodness” have such disastrous effects?

5. Father Gaunt’s account of Roseanne’s life is clouded by his prejudices. Roseanne’s autobiographical testament is rendered unreliable by her age and her suspect mental condition. Which version of events do you find more trustworthy? Is either account completely untrustworthy?

6. How does Dr. Grene’s relationship with his wife, Bet, relate to the principal plot of the novel?

7. Early in the novel, Joe Clear drops feathers and hammers from a tower in a botched attempt to explain the force of gravity to his daughter. Why do you think Barry inserts this curious vignette into the book?

8. What character names in The Secret Scripture do you think serve a symbolic function? What, specifically, do these names suggest?

9. Although Roseanne Clear is plainly victimized by those around her, she also makes some very poor choices, like going to meet John Lavelle on Knocknarea and seeking help from Mrs. McNulty when she is on the verge of giving birth. Is she in some strange sense complicit in her own suffering?

10. In the end, do you find Roseanne’s story tragic or triumphant?

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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:35 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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I finished this book last week, which was a tad early for me to recall all the details and I'm also a bit distracted by real life stuff at the moment, but I did want to comment on what was possibly the thing that struck me most when listening to this book last week. It relates to question 5, but one of the things I found interesting while listening was thinking that none of the narrators were particularly reliable, so I had to use judgment to determine what the truth might be. Roseanne's memory (and mental health) is in question, Father Gaunt seemed remarkably biased and Dr, Grene, while seeming to be a good guy, realizes that his memory is fallible and that he doesn't have all the info. I know there was a specific moment when Grene realized his memory wasn't accurate or what he wrote was biased, but I can't recall what it was right now. It's always interesting to consider what the truth is when you have one or more unreliable narrators and this book seemed a strong example of that.


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:17 pm 
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I just finished listening to the book in the driveway, since I don't have a CD player in the house :lol: and just wanted to write down a comment before reading what everyone else has been saying. Well, I loved the voice, the research that was put into it, the language, the way the scenes were described. But I hated the predictability. I knew the "big twist at the end" from the moment a child was mentioned, and almost knew it before, when the doctor said he was adopted. OK. I'll be back.


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 8:21 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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Demetria, I know what you mean. I read this book a few years ago, so I can't remember all the details, but yes, this detail seemed to hover over the book, and I seemed to be waiting for the characters to figure it out. Even though I don't recall much of the detail, questions 2 and 3 grabbed me, because women are so often blamed for being victims, and the Irish religious authorities were particularly cruel in that respect. I think part of me does not want to remember the details of the story for that reason. I was glad I had read the book at the time, but did not want to relive the experience.


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:46 pm 
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One thing that reminded me of DG was the way Roseanne describes being pregnant. It's so obviously written by someone who hasn't been pregnant, isn't it? I don't want to say it's obviously written by a man because a woman that hasn't been pregnant could also not realize the elbows and knees that protrude through the skin are not looked at, they're felt from the inside :) But he didn't do too bad of a job.

Now, let's see if I can answer one of the questions on the list...
Oh, number 7 about the feathers and rocks. When Roseanne wrote about the experiment I though the author was trying to show us how uneducated her father was. Seriously, who doesn't know feathers fall slowly? He could have done this experiment standing on a chair or on the floor and see that plainly. But then it became more clear when she wrote he was stoned to death and his mouth filled with feathers. I have to admit I had forgotten about the experiment by then ;). If I'd remembered, I would have thought it was done by someone who'd seen them do the experiment, like the crazy mother, perhaps? No, there was another reason. The man, according to the priest was stoned, and I believe there was a police record of that, so it really happened. The difference in the accounts are the feathers, which Roseanne might have added to her story because of her memory of the experiment, associating her father and stones with feathers. What's unclear here is how the doctor added the feather to his account when he hadn't read Roseanne's story yet. Maybe he had, or had heard Roseanne tell the story and didn't remember. He does say that what is truth is different for every person, and just because the story is not the same it doesn't mean either person lied. (Not an exact quote.) I just read a quote today that says everyone should be able to make edits to their autobiography. I understand there are no coincidences. Interesting I read that today :)


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 Post subject: Re: BOTM March 2017: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:57 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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I did love the language the author used. It had a beautiful lilt to it. Having been in Ireland twice and been around my husband's family, it was lovely to hear that.
There is much in this book that would require a more in depth reading.

I also felt that the characters were unreliable.
Fr. Gaunt had a heavy responsibility but because of his biases he failed to live the Gospel.

As I read this novel, I felt like I was under a gray cloud. Color was lacking. So somber.

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