What’s it about?
It is the 1850’s and Thomas McNulty is 17 years old. He has fled the famine in Ireland and come to the United States. He meets another orphan on the road (John Cole) and they don dresses for 50 cents a dance to keep from starving. They then decide to head out West to fight in the Indian Wars. We follow Thomas and John’s journey through the Indian Wars, into civilian life again, and back in uniform again for the Civil War.
What did I think?
Sebastian Barry is one of my favorite writers so I ordered this book as soon as it came out. This book’s subject matter was very different from the earlier books I had read- but the writing is equally as beautiful. I was not disappointed!
Should you read it?
In the end this is a love story. Not a romance novel- not even close! The setting was in a time and place that was so harsh it seems as if a love like this would be impossible. Thomas and John are soldiers a good portion of their lives and we see war as well as the violence of the antebellum South. Somehow through all this- Sebastian Barry again shows us that love can transcend all boundaries.
“Thousands die everywhere always. The world don’t care much, it just don’t mind much. That’s what I notice about it. There is that great wailing and distress and then the pacifying waters close over everything, old Father Time washes his hands. On he plods to the next place. It suits us well to know these things, that you may exert yourself to survive. Just surviving is the victory.”
If you like this try-
News of the World by Paulette Giles
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton