Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry

Another Lyrical Tale by Sebastian Barry

Often when I read  I seem to inadvertently read a series of books that have similar themes without intending to do that. When I started this book, I was struck by another tale of an Irish woman but one who has emigrated to America. She came from a small village called Wicklow, and then she referred to a sister named Annie Dunne. Wow, all of a sudden I realized this was a book about a sister to the recent book I read about Annie Dunne.

It wasn't obvious at first because Barry gives Lilly a completely different voice which really speaks to his ability as an author. Lilly is so different than her sister Annie in almost every way and has a strength to continue and persevere despite adversity in just about every stage of her life.

The book really focuses on her recollection of her past as she confronts her memories as she grieves for her grandson Bill. Being 85, Lilly has many memories and recounts her story beginning with unexpected journey to the United States, leaving behind everything and everyone she loves. The daughter of an Irish policeman, she is forced to flee Ireland when she becomes a wanted woman along with her suitor. She lands in the United States and must make a life for herself. Lilly provides a narrative of her life through joys and much loss, with the fear of being a fugitive always in the background.

The writing is beautiful. This is definitely worth reading.

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