On Canaan's Side

On Canaan's Side

A Novel

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
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Penguin Putnam
From the two-time Man Booker shortlisted author of The Secret Scripture comes a magnificent new novel that is the story of the twentieth century in America.

Told in the first person, as a narrative of Lilly Bere's life over seventeen days, On Canaan's Side opens as she mourns the loss of her grandson, Bill. Lilly revisits her past, going back to the moment she was forced to flee Ireland, at the end of the First World War, and continues her tale in America, a world filled with both hope and danger. At once epic and intimate, Lilly's story unfolds as she tries to make sense of the sorrows and troubles of her life and of the people whose lives she has touched. Spanning nearly seven decades, from the Great Depression to World War II and the Vietnam War, it is the heartbreaking story of a woman whose capability to love is enormous, and whose compassion, even for those who have wronged her, is astonishing.

Baker & Taylor
Presents the tragic story of Lilly Bere, who flees Ireland for the United States under threat of death from the IRA and survives heartache, a midlife pregnancy, and the challenges of the Great Depression and multiple wars.

Baker
& Taylor

The Man Booker Prize short-listed author of The Secret Scripture presents the tragic story of youngest daughter Lilly Bere, who after fleeing Ireland under threat of death from the IRA survives heartache, a midlife pregnancy and the challenges of the Great Depression and multiple wars.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2011
ISBN: 9780670022922
0670022926
Characteristics: 256 p. ; 22 cm

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ChristchurchLib Mar 28, 2016

The Man Booker Prize short-listed author of The Secret Scripture presents the tragic story of youngest daughter Lilly Bere, who after fleeing Ireland under threat of death from the IRA survives heartache, a midlife pregnancy and the challenges of the Great Depression and multiple wars.

f
FVReader
May 02, 2015

Lovely. Lilly Bere tells her story, looking back on her 89 years, in the 17 days after the burial of her grandson. This is a sad story that says much more than Lilly is telling. I really enjoyed Lilly's voice, her outlook, her lovely descriptions & observations.
Throughout her life, Lilly is confronted with hope, betrayal, love, fear and always she carries on. Sebastian Barry tells enough of her story to entrance but leaves some details to be filled in by the reader's imagination. The combination is just right for Lilly's story.
I will be looking into other books by this author.

c
Cme_atx
Sep 17, 2013

I loved this book--the writing is beautiful. I found myself wanting to highlight the lines I wanted to remember and return to. Barry is a wonderful storyteller. I am definitely going to look into the other books that detail these characters--they are all so rich and complex.

t
tweetybird166
Jun 21, 2013

He does write beautifully. But I was furious at the ending. The main character is resourceful and strong throughout her life. So I felt the end simply was not believable. After having really enjoyed the story I felt very let down. :-(

u
uncommonreader
May 04, 2012

In this book, Lilly, the daughter of a Dublin policeman, marries a Black & Tan and flees to America. Overall, the main character was not sympathic and the novel was unsatisfying.

s
sari
Jan 03, 2012

Barry uses language beautifully but does not develop his characters on a psychological level.
It is a walk through history ,partly American .When I researched the author I found he had written other books about the Dunne family so perhaps those lend more insight into the characters.
Overall I enjoyed this story.

caro502 Nov 26, 2011

Terrible, obtuse, cumbersome writing. Character development was non-existent. I had to read this for a book club and it was pure torture.

Wonderful story. You will fall in love with Lilly Bere...

j
JacquieM
Oct 29, 2011

The writing is a pleasure to read. An imaginative novel, although it tends to rely heavily on melodrama when it could have stood on the merits of excellent characterization.

debwalker Sep 30, 2011

"For three decades, Sebastian Barry has battled Ireland’s amnesia, evoking these banished histories in a series of award-winning plays and novels. “There is nothing called long-ago after all,” says Lilly Bere, the 89-year-old narrator of Sebastian Barry’s latest, Man Booker-nominated novel, On Canaan’s Side. “When things are summoned up, it is all present time, pure and simple. So that, much to my surprise, people I have loved are allowed to live again.”

And live they do, through the mesmerizing voice of Lilly Bere, born into a blue-collar Irish family of Catholic loyalists at the beginning of the 20th century, and forced to flee to America – Canaan’s Side – by the violent dislocations of Irish politics."
Elizabeth Grove-White
Globe & Mail

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