“On Canaan’s Side”

September 2, 2011 at 8:14 am | Posted in Fiction | 2 Comments

Moving right along, I hurried to read On Canaan’s Side because I love Sebastian Barry.  Comparisons with The Secret Scripture can’t be avoided, because it was short-listed for the Booker in 2008.


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Another point of obvious comparison is that the protagonists of both books are very elderly Irish women.  Both are imbued with history; both contain dark secrets.  Both showcase Barry’s elegiac prose; both women seem to find moments of happiness and grace in otherwise tragic lives.

Now, I don’t want to say this, and it’s been a couple of years, but I think I was more impressed with The Secret Scripture.  I mean, I fell in love with that book halfway through the first page.  Reading it felt like praying.  I would say that On Canaan’s Side is definitely a powerful book, I’m just not sure I could say it surpasses Barry’s previous effort.

I’m putting it in my “maybe” stack for the short list this year.



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  1. I just requested this book from the library for my wife. Sounds like she’s going to love it.

    Enjoyed the post and keep reading fine books.

    • Thank you!

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