A Long Long Way
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Selected for the Man Booker 2005 Shortlist. A beautifully written 'coming of age' novel exploring the profound effects WW1 had on the young men caught up in this traumatic event. Download an extract and make up your own mind.
A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry
Barely eighteen years old, Willie Dunne leaves Dublin in 1914 to fight for the Allied cause, largely unaware of the growing political and religious tensions festering back home.
Told in Sebastian Barry's characteristically beautiful prose, A Long Long Way evokes the camaraderie and humour of Willie and his regiment, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, but also the cruelty and sadness of war, and the divided loyalties that many Irish soldiers felt. Tracing their experiences through the course of the war, the narrative brilliantly explores and dramatises the events of the Easter Rising within Ireland, and how such a seminal political moment came to affect those boys off fighting for the King of England on foreign fields - the paralysing doubts and divisions it caused them.
It also charts Willie's coming of age, his leaving behind of his sweetheart Gretta, and the effect the war has on his relationship with his father, a member of the Dublin Military Police and fervent loyalist. Running throughout is the question of how such young men came to be fighting in a war, and how they struggled with the events that raged around them.