Forced from his native Ireland by the deprivations of the potato famine, young Thomas McNulty throws his lot in with the American Army. With brother-in-arms John Cole in tow, these young men witness and participate in the painful birth of a nation. First it is the Indian Wars - rescuing and adopting an Indian girl as they go - and then the Civil War.
Distinguished by the beauty of its language and Thomas' narration, this novel, where brutality and compassion exist side-by-side, delivers a unique perspective of nineteenth century America. [Larger font]
A decent book, no particular high or lowlights.
Most who read it really enjoyed it, but a couple found it quite gruesome. It was really well-written and some of his descriptive writing made you think you were actually there.
Beautiful writing - particularly descriptions of place and people. Multi layered story which wove the alternative relationships between men into the narrative without making a big deal of it. Historical context provided great subject matter for discussion.
Everyone was most impressed with the stunning writing in this novel. Although the content was often horrific, the language carried you through. It gave rise to lively discussion.
Insightful, unique way of writing - one moment so beautifully lyrical and the next so distressingly brutal. Part caring and compassionate, part horrendous and soul destroying. Rewarding in so many ways and with outstanding descriptive passages. Learnt a lot about American/Indian history and early Irish settlement. Not a book most of us would have picked up, but thanks to our Book Club and the BDS we did:-)
This guy is just the best storyteller. We've read a couple of his books and they grip you and reel you in but not by dramatic devices. The stories are simply so compelling. Everyone who read it enjoyed it.
We all struggled with the start of this but all agreed it was a great read, covering the brutalities of the massacres. Some of us were irritated with the unconventional grammar but agreed it served a purpose for the story. Covering so many topics of the time, savage defeat of the indigenous Indians, homosexuality and the prejudices and events of the American Civil War - there was a common thread of love running throughout which held everybody and became a real page turner. Thoroughly enjoyed.
An interesting and educational read - lovely prose but tedious battles!
Book was well-written, but a bit disturbing.
Everybody learned a lot; enjoyed the language and descriptions of scenery. Appalled at the brutality but it caused much discussion. We all want to read other books by Sebastian Barry.
All enjoyed it and found it very original and the characters authentic. Thomas' dressing in women's clothes, yet being a fierce fighter in his career as a soldier until eventually he is disenchanted by the conflicts he was involved in.... The narrative style was unusual but not a distraction, and seemed quite realistic for a loquacious Irishman. Strong and interesting character. The realism of the war/battle scenes very disturbing, but unfortunately quite true.