The Secret Scriptures focuses on Roseanne McNulty, a centenarian and long-time resident of the Roscommon mental hospital. The institution, her home is to close. Roseanne’s life spans a turbulent era in Ireland’s history, from the Irish civil war to the German bombing of Belfast during World War II. The destructive history shapes the experiences of this intriguing protagonist. Roseanne relays here story taking on the task of writing her personal narrative or the "secret scripture." Her voice is sad, strange, strong and often confused. Her account interweaves with that of her psychiatrist, Dr. Grene who is charged with assessing whether she can finally be released.
Sebastian Barry writes about love, loss, broken promises, failed hopes, morality, religious prejudice, archaic beliefs. Barry's style is poetic. He creates beautiful prose out of the wreckage of horrendous circumstances, diving into the complexity of human emotions while illustrating that destructive actions are in our nature.
Barry faltered tremendously with the twist at the very end. The twist was too coincidental, unbelievable and completely unnecessary. Luckily this mishap did not diminish the books overall quality.