The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

About the book

Nearing her one-hundredth birthday, Roseanne McNulty faces an uncertain future, as the Roscommon Regional Mental hospital where she’s spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks often with her psychiatrist Dr Grene, and their relationship intensifies and complicates. Told through their respective journals, the story that emerges is at once shocking and deeply beautiful. Refracted through the haze of memory and retelling, Roseanne’s story becomes an alternative, secret history of Ireland’s changing character and the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope.

Reviewed by Holbury/Fawley U3A Reading Group:

We all loved this book. We thought the writing was exceptional and the story, although harrowing, was very well told. The characterisation was fantastic – we all believed in the characters in the book, and wanted to know their story. Several members said it proved the point of book groups as they would not have chosen to read it themselves.

Star rating: ****

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7 thoughts on “The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry”

  1. Review by Ten for Books Reading Group:
    :Although we haven’t yet met, i have spoken to everyone as they are so impressed with this one – glorious gentle style of writing and lovely story backed up with interesting history! We will look out for this author again.
    Star rating: ****


  2. Review by Fleet Library Reading Group:
    This is the second time I have read this book and I enjoyed it just as much. Beautifully written (in my opinion). Provoked much lively and interesting talk amongst the group especially re: the Catholic Church.
    Star rating: ***


  3. Review by North Baddesley WI Group 2 Reading Group:
    We were upset and shocked to find out how Irish women could be treated in the early 20th Century. It was a real page turner with an unexpected twist. We found it an enlightened read. We would recommend this as a book club read.
    Rating: 4 Stars


  4. Review by Tuesday Afternoon Basingstoke Group
    Very thought provoking and many layered book which explores deep themes. Very lyrical and descriptive. Provoked a great deal of discussion.
    Star rating: ****


  5. Review from Fareham 5:30 Reading Group. we all enjoyed this book. Some of us struggled at first – perhaps becuase of the somewhat old-fashinned language. We liked how teh two stories interwove….and didn’t always agree with one another. We liked the main character Roseanne, and felt her passivity was a consequence of her situation. The alos liked the historical setting, which we felt was essential to the plot. There was disagreemnet about the ending – some of us found it unnecessarily contrived. We gave it 3 and a half stars.


  6. Review by Morning Tide WI Lee-on-the -Solent
    A story built around the fighting in Ireland when it became independent and the strong antagonism between Catholics and Protestants and the effect on one family.
    Difficult to read, not enjoyed and could not be recommended.
    Star rating: *


  7. Review by Hartley Readers
    Very interesting, though sad. Irish story. Complex and engaging. Instructive with regards to modern Irish history.
    Star rating ****


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