Tuesday, January 31
A Long, Long Way
Author: Sebastian Barry
Pages: EBook (250 pages)
Summary: Praised as a "master storyteller" (The Wall Street Journal) and hailed for his "flawless use of language" (Boston Herald), Irish author and playwright Sebastian Barry has created a powerful new novel about divided loyalties and the realities of war. In 1914, Willie Dunne, barely eighteen years old, leaves behind Dublin, his family, and the girl he plans to marry in order to enlist in the Allied forces and face the Germans on the Western Front. Once there, he encounters a horror of violence and gore he could not have imagined and sustains his spirit with only the words on the pages from home and the camaraderie of the mud-covered Irish boys who fight and die by his side. Dimly aware of the political tensions that have grown in Ireland in his absence, Willie returns on leave to find a world split and ravaged by forces closer to home. Despite the comfort he finds with his family, he knows he must rejoin his regiment and fight until the end. With grace and power, Sebastian Barry vividly renders Willie’s personal struggle as well as the overwhelming consequences of war.
My Rating: 8.5/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall this was a very good read, there were a few times where I didn't enjoy it, but others I was gripped by the story, and in the end it became a very memorable story about the first world war. The wring in the book was excellent - poetic at times, and descriptive passages that showed the horrific realities of the war, the author created a very realistic and stunning story about the soldiers in the trenches. There were a few scenes, that were both stunning, depressing and horrifying all at once, but I appreciate what the author pulled off. One of my favourite scenes, despite the fact it truly shows the ugliness of war, was written so carefully, it brought to life the characters and scene. The characters were well done, although they weren't that memorable. The main character and a few minor stick out slightly, but there wasn't that extra push to bring them beyond other characters in similar stories. The author does do a wonderful job at showing the affects of the war on the characters in the book. All the characters were well written, complex and well developed - similar to other soldiers from other war time books, but the author created a solid cast in his book.
The only other issue I had with the book was the political tensions back home. It was touched on lightly, but I was hoping there would be more about the Irish rebellion. It seemed to affect Willie and his look on the war, but it was only brushed on. It was probably for the best the rebellion was only touched on, as other aspects of the story may have been sacrificed - but I still wanted more detail on it. The ending was a bit predictable, but I actually enjoyed it and had it ended differently, I don't think the book would have had the same feel or meaning to it.
Otherwise it was a fantastic and at times, haunting read.
Would I recommend it to read: I would, the author did a lovely job at brining the story to life. Great choice for readers who like to read war time novels.
What to read next: The Wars, All Quiet on the Western Front
Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, EBook Challenge, Irish Reading Challenge, New Authors Challenge, War Through the Generations - WWI