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February 2015 Book of the Month.
Like Roddy Doyle, Sebastian Barry is one of those great Irish writers whose characters get under your skin and whose stories stay with you forever. The Temporary Gentleman is the third book very loosely charting the lives of the McNulty brothers, and even more loosely based on the stories Barry’s grandfather told him about the war. Jack McNulty is far from the most reliable of narrators and this lyrical tale is full of plenty of twists, of memory as well as life, as Jack remembers back through his life and where it all went wrong.
Jack McNulty is a 'temporary gentleman', an Irishman whose commission in the British army in the Second World War was never permanent. In 1957, sitting in his lodgings in Accra, he urgently sets out to write his story. He feels he cannot take one step further, or even hardly a breath, without looking back at all that has befallen him. He is an ordinary man, both petty and heroic, but he has seen extraordinary things. He has worked and wandered around the world - as a soldier, an engineer, a UN observer - trying to follow his childhood ambition to better himself. And he has had a strange and tumultuous marriage. Mai Kirwan was a great beauty of Sligo in the 1920s, a vivid mind, but an elusive and mysterious figure too. Jack married her, and shared his life with her, but in time she slipped from his grasp. A heart-breaking portrait of one man's life - of his demons and his lost love - The Temporary Gentleman is, ultimately, a novel about Jack's last bid for freedom, from the savage realities of the past and from himself.
A ‘temporary gentleman’ is a term used for an officer in the British Army for the duration of a war; here, it is here a title behind which the anti-hero hides. Jack McNulty, a scoundrel whose real conflict is with his own weak character, seeks solace at the bottom of a glass and effectively drives his beautiful and talented wife to drink. But the indestructible Jack is a survivor, travelling far and wide between Ireland in its infancy as a nation, to the edges of the British Empire at its end, while his home life slips from his grasp. A haunting and moving book; an elegy to the inadequacies of love.
Publication date: 05/02/2015
Publisher: Faber & Faber Fiction an imprint of Faber & Faber
|Publication date:||5th February 2015|
|Publisher:||Faber & Faber Fiction an imprint of Faber & Faber|
|Genres:||Books of the Month, eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. His plays include The Steward of Christendom and The Pride of Parnell Street and his novels include The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, Annie Dunne, A Long Long Way and The Secret Scripture. A Long Long Way was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Dublin International Impac Prize, and was the Dublin: One City One Book for 2007. The Secret Scripture won the Costa Book of the Year award, the Irish Book Awards Best Novel, the Independent Booksellers Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker ...More About Sebastian Barry