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A Long Long Way - Sebastian Barry


shaymen
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A Long Long Way - Sebastian Barry.

Just wondered if anyone had read this or heard about it.

I had it recommended to me today by a work colleague who was raving about it.

Checked it out on amazon - got good reviews.

Glyn

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I read a few pages of this book while I ws in Easons the other night - awaiting my good lady who was doing some recreational purchasing.

I personally did not like the writing style. I would also bet it will grate on the nerves of those who have more than a general interest in WW1.

AND since 90% of people on this forum HAVE more than a general interest ....

All I can say is I was not running to the counter with it.

Des

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  • 4 months later...

It wasn't so much the writing style, which I rather liked, that made me want to throw the book on the fire when I had finished it. It wasn't even the characterisation, which was good, but the dreadful, simple, errors of fact in relation to army organisation that bugged me dreadfully. And if things like that are wrong, how much else is wrong?

Cas

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I read the book and found it to be "All Quiet on the Western Front" as seen through the eyes of an Irishman ( including the undramatic end of the burned out soldier just prior to the Armistice). Too many telegraphed plot twists for my liking. Although I must admit that up until the Rising he had my interest. I didn't like the voice, either.

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I started it but ran out of interest by about page 40 to be honest! I can't say why but it began to irritate me.

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  • 1 month later...

Funnily enough, I liked this book.

I have just finished it and decided to look down the list of reviews to see if anybody else had read it.

I was surprised to see the negative comments. :huh:

Than again I am not an expert on army structures etc.

I certainly got to like the main character (Private Willie Dunne) who was so innocent at the start.

He was Irish, from Dublin, and got a great send off when he was heading for the boat with the Battalion (Royal Dublin Fusiliers) in 1915.

He was unfortunate to get caught up in the 1916 rising when he was finishing up his first period of leave and heading back for the boat.

With the execution of the senior rebels in the rising public opinion changed at home and the war 'heroes' suddenly became 'traitors'. This opinion lasted for years. My own granny who lost her only two brothers in the war could never really talk to anybody about them. For years she mourned their passing in silence. The veterans returning from the Front were often treated very badly at home. They certainly were not acclaimed as they heroes they really were. It is only in the last ten years really that WW1 soldiers are being given the credit that they deserve.

Maybe the story was a bit predictable but I did feel very sorry for Willie, the conflicts going on in his head and the personal tragedies that were visited on him. I thought that the story was well written.

It was nominated for the 2005 Booker Prize.

I would recomend it as a good read.

Alan

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I like the sound of this book, so will try to find a copy

I also find historical oversights and errors annoying but in this case it's possible I may not be aware of them

I can also identify with the subject matter. Members of my own family went through similar trials as Irishmen from Dublin serving in the British Army. Mine could no go home during their service or immediately following the Great War. No heroes return home for them. They used Liverpool or Hull as their home bases

Caryl

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hi - I'm very new to the forum, but thought I would share my thoughts on this book.

I thought it was very well written, although the plot was a little constructed, with miraculous escapes/broken hearts etc etc.

I think the most poignant - and most important - message that I picked up was the fact that men that signed up as heroes in 14 and 15 were treated almost as traitors when they came home. To them, the Ireland that they left was, in the words of Yeats 'changed utterly'. And for the lads that didnt come home, it is only in the last few years that Ireland has started to recognise the sacrifice of 30,000 of her sons - and even today it is a rare sight to see a poppy in November.

As an Irishman thats something that saddens me. The history that I was taught in school viewed the war from a post-imperialist standpoint, with the only significant historical event in 1916 being the Easter rising. At no point was there a mention of the contribution made by our forefathers.

I'm glad that Sebastian Barry has written something that will make this more real to people, regardless of the inaccuracies or the dramtisation of it all. To me, that's what makes this book worth reading.

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  • 1 month later...

i read this book during my holiday and very much enjoyed it :P

i admit it took me a bit to get used to his style of writing though

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The depiction of the Rising is so terribly inaccurate that I could not take anything else seriously, although it did suprise me to read that prior to the gas attack the soldiers were issued with the most primative medievil weapons such as sticks with spikes, hatchets, mallets and so on. Is that true?

wig

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Although not historically accurate, Sebastian Barry did base the story of Willie's experiences of the war on a number of actual events. It is a nice story, beautifully written and gives an insight as to how Irish soldiers of the First World War were buried alive in a nascent Irish Free State. For example, Michael Malone was honoured for the part he played in the slaughter of the Sherwood Forresters at Northumberland Road in 1916, While his brother Sgt. Willie Malone of the 2nd. Btn. Royal Dublin Fusiliers who was killed at Mouse Trap Farm was forgotten. Irish history has always been very, very complex.

Ken

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I reading this at the moment - and enjoying it too. I've read all the usual novels and prose literature on the Great War; including the Faulks and Barker Trilogies and so Barry matches up to them. Best too remember that this is a piece of literature and is not pretending to be something else. I thinging of Robert Graves 'Goodbye to all that'...

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  • 7 months later...

After publication was short-listed for either the Booker or the Orange award. I rate it and can forgive minor errors. The account of the German gas attack of 1915 is particularly well-written.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have finally got round to reading this and I quite enjoyed it. I think he gets across some of the complexity of Irish participation in the war without making it overtly political. I think there are some particularly memorable bits of writing - I thought Willie's trip to the family home of his first officer was very well done. I also found the figure of the priest quite haunting.

Just some thoughts...

Swizz

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