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The Temporary Gentleman (2014)

by Sebastian Barry

Series: McNulty Family (5)

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2321586,198 (3.91)24
"In this highly anticipated new novel, Irishman Jack McNulty is a "temporary gentleman"--an Irishman whose commission in the British army in World War II was never permanent. Sitting in his lodgings in Accra, Ghana, in 1957, he's writing the story of his life with desperate urgency. He cannot take one step further without examining all the extraordinary events that he has seen. A lifetime of war and world travel--as a soldier in World War II, an engineer, a UN observer--has brought him to this point. But the memory that weighs heaviest on his heart is that of the beautiful Mai Kirwan, and their tempestuous, heartbreaking marriage. Mai was once the great beauty of Sligo, a magnetic yet unstable woman who, after sharing a life with Jack, gradually slipped from his grasp"--… (more)

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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Really enjoyed but the African bit did not work for me. ( )
  adrianburke | Aug 30, 2020 |
Excellent ( )
  stevezalew | Aug 15, 2020 |
This is the most boring and repetitive tale of unrepentant alcoholism I've ever read.

Except for the torpedoed opening, it continues slowly and predictably, with no redemption.

I chose this for the Irish Challenge - what a letdown. ( )
  m.belljackson | Dec 17, 2018 |
Sebastian Barry is the only writer that I sometimes wish I could write like. His prose style is poetic and beautiful but does not distract from the narrative as I find many self-consciously poetic prose writers do. This is a heartbreakingly simple story of one man's life and his doomed failing marriage. Despite its simplicity, it manages to span over 50 years and include the struggle for Irish independence, the 2nd world war and African colonialism.
Its only drawbacks for me were the abrupt, unconvincing ending and a reliance on the stereotypical link between the Irish and alcoholism. ( )
  stephengoldenberg | Apr 6, 2016 |
a very well written book by Barry who seems to make it his lifetime achievement of writing on the human relations that aren't very successful whilst they could be. The main character in this book reflects on his life and alcohol made it a kind of a roller coaster with ups, but certainly with downs. Tangled between pure luck on one hand, and the circumstances in Ireland with the second World War on the other hand. Taking the luck for granted and in the impossibility to escape from the circumstances, due to the drinking, the catastrophe is closely and the will to avoid it seems to lack.
Barry avoids to have it too much black and white and is a master in nuance. The main theme, in my humble opinion, is that one can not play out of his league. A too big difference in social background between partners in a marriage is and will always be a major issue, love has to be very strong and even then, will love be enough?
Questions that receive no answer because in the end of this book, luck has just ran out. Sadly so. ( )
1 vote Lunarreader | Aug 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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"In this highly anticipated new novel, Irishman Jack McNulty is a "temporary gentleman"--an Irishman whose commission in the British army in World War II was never permanent. Sitting in his lodgings in Accra, Ghana, in 1957, he's writing the story of his life with desperate urgency. He cannot take one step further without examining all the extraordinary events that he has seen. A lifetime of war and world travel--as a soldier in World War II, an engineer, a UN observer--has brought him to this point. But the memory that weighs heaviest on his heart is that of the beautiful Mai Kirwan, and their tempestuous, heartbreaking marriage. Mai was once the great beauty of Sligo, a magnetic yet unstable woman who, after sharing a life with Jack, gradually slipped from his grasp"--

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