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On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry
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On Canaan's Side (2011)

by Sebastian Barry

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5944223,905 (3.84)1 / 110
Recently added byrena75, Faradaydon, sueinauckland
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Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
elderly Irish woman in service in USA reviews the relationships in her life whilst mourning death of beloved grandson.
  MarilynKinnon | Jul 11, 2018 |
I think this is Barry's best book. Beautifully written and a real page-turner to boot. My only criticism is that sometimes I got so caught up in the gorgeous prose that I forgot to pay attention to what was happening. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
  MelissaLenhardt | Mar 11, 2018 |
At 89 years old, Lilly relates a sentimental account of escape from political upheaval in Ireland to the US, sharing memories measured by the number of days since her grandson Bill died. The hyperbolic language, surely invented by writers of the "Irish immigrant in America" genre, is annoying. Lilly is shown to be ill-educated, ignorant, yet this is not apparent in her flights of flamboyant prose "I carry in my skull a sort of molten sphere instead of a brain, and I am burning there, with horror, and misery." Although I can appreciate Barry's talent with words, they do not sit comfortably with Lily's persona. If the theatrical clichéd quality can be tuned out, Lily's story of her eighty-nine years unfolds more credibly. There is no doubt that Barry can create a colourful turn of phrase and tell a vivid story, but they are not my choice. ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Mar 3, 2017 |
An autobiography written by a nearly 90 year old lady. We are reading it as she is writing it and reliving her life.
She immigrated to America in her teens from Ireland with her husband to be.
It was a life of much sadness and fear but also a life of much love, fullness, and good fortune.
Other:
Courage and fortitude not only in her but in others
Caring for others: caring for her by others outside her family
Effects of war on some young people—her brother, son, and grandson, close friend
Reminded of the existence of groups of evil men in the world: mafia, Irish society, etc.
What can happen to sons’ foundation when there is no father in the home.
Race difference is not always simple—she married a white man who had black genes which became obvious in her grandchild.
( )
  jack2410 | Feb 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Livin' on Caanan's side , Egypt behind
Crossed over Jordan wide, gladness to find.
AMERICAN HYMN
Dedication
For Dermot and Bernie
First words
Bill is gone.
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(...)but in general as we entered we caught a strange note of gaiety and completion, as if this great building might be a hospital of sorts, but curing the unknown an non-specific maladies of the daily soul.
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Presents the tragic story of Lilly Bere, who flees Ireland for the United States under threat of death from the IRA and survives heartache, a midlife pregnancy, and the challenges of the Great Depression and multiple wars.

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