I was captivated by this book and kept marvelling at how such a grim subject could be written about in such a beautiful way. Willie Dunne, a young Irish boy barely 18 years old goes off to fight in WWI (fighting for the English) while back at home in his native Dublin the fight for independence is causing him to confront political issues he had never thought about before...especially as the devoted son of a loving father who has been a policeman, loyal to king and country, all his life. The book gives us a poignant look into Willien's heart as he struggles with his feelings for his family, the girl he hopes to marry, his country and his fellow soldiers in his regiment, while all the while facing the horror and violence of trench warfare. All of this would be gripping enough, but in the hands of a writer like Sebastian Barry it becomes the kind of book that is hard to put down if for no other reason than the way its written. Here's an example: "They stood there two feet apart in all that vale of tears, one man was asking another how he was, the other asking how the other was, the one not knowing truly what the world was, the other not knowing either. One nodded to the other now in an expression of understanding without understanding, of saying without breathing a word. And the other nodded back to the other, knowing nothing. Not this new world of terminality and astonishing dismay, of extremity of ruin and exaggeration of misery. And Father Buckley did not know anything but grief, and Willie Dunne on that black day likewise."
moving novel told from the perspective of an Irish soldier in the first World War; the dual focus on the war in the trenches of France and the Irish "troubles" with England is unusual and interesting
Excellent, touching book about Willie Dunne, a young Irish soldier in the English army during WWI.
Really interesting and moving novel about a young man who enlists in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers at the start of the First World War, and the events that shape him both on the frontlines and on the homefront.