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On Canaan's Side: A Novel
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Published:
Penguin Publishing Group 2011
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Available from OverDrive
Description
Longlisted for the Booker Prize, a mesmerizing new novel from the award-winning author of Old God's Time
A first-person narrative of Lilly Bere’s life, On Canaan’s Side opens as the eighty-five-year-old Irish émigré mourns the loss of her grandson, Bill. Lilly, the daughter of a Dublin policeman, revisits her eventful past, going back to the moment she was forced to flee Ireland at the end of the First World War. She continues her tale in America, where—far from her family—she first tastes the sweetness of love and the bitterness of betrayal.
Spanning nearly seven decades, Sebastian Barry’s extraordinary fifth novel explores memory, war, family ties, love, and loss, distilling the complexity and beauty of life into his haunting prose.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/08/2011
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781101544259
ASIN:
B0052RDIJG
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Sebastian Barry. (2011). On Canaan's Side: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Sebastian Barry. 2011. On Canaan's Side: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Sebastian Barry, On Canaan's Side: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2011.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Sebastian Barry. On Canaan's Side: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2011.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 19:03:38
Date Updated:
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title
On Canaan's Side
fullDescription
Longlisted for the Booker Prize, a mesmerizing new novel from the award-winning author of Old God's Time
A first-person narrative of Lilly Bere’s life, On Canaan’s Side opens as the eighty-five-year-old Irish émigré mourns the loss of her grandson, Bill. Lilly, the daughter of a Dublin policeman, revisits her eventful past, going back to the moment she was forced to flee Ireland at the end of the First World War. She continues her tale in America, where—far from her family—she first tastes the sweetness of love and the bitterness of betrayal.
Spanning nearly seven decades, Sebastian Barry’s extraordinary fifth novel explores memory, war, family ties, love, and loss, distilling the complexity and beauty of life into his haunting prose.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        July 11, 2011
        Lilly Bere is an 89-year-old retired cook living in the Hamptons in Long Island in Irish writer Barry's latest novel (after The Secret Scripture). Lilly is mourning her grandson, a veteran of the first Gulf War, who has just committed suicide. But this is hardly the first loss she's had in a life spanning continents and many other wars. Born and raised in Ireland, Lilly's first encounter with loss comes when her brother Willie is killed in WWI. A fellow soldier, Tadg Bere, comes to pay his respects to the family and woos her in earnest soon after. The young couple has no time to marry, as Tadg, enrolled in the Black and Tans, an auxiliary police force, is implicated in an ambush of IRA militia men and a price is put on both their heads. They flee to America under assumed names, hoping to start a new life there in safety with the help of some extended family in Chicago, but the past catches up with them. Over the subsequent decades, Lilly is tossed around her adopted country, grappling with the distance from her homeland. She's fascinated by the expansiveness and vigor of America despite her unceasing heartache over the generations of men and their war service. Barry's skills are evident as he tenderly unspools Lilly's story, with a fine eye for intimate moments, but the final impression of her life against its historical backdrop is clouded by the familiarity of many of the novel's elements and the schematic way each additional emotional blow falls relentlessly, tugging at the reader's heartstrings with diminishing force.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from July 15, 2011

        A masterful novel filled with the bittersweet ruminations of an 89-year-old woman as she reflects on her rich life while contemplating death.

        The latest from the award-winning Irish novelist (The Secret Scripture, 2008, etc.) and playwright takes the form of a first-person narrative by Lilly Bere, who has lived most of her life in America since emigrating from Ireland in the wake of World War I, after she and her fiancé were targeted by the IRA. Lilly largely recounts her life through the men who have defined it: the father who raised her, the fiancé whom she followed into exile, the mysterious American husband who wooed her after her fiancé's murder, the son who became a walking casualty of war, the grandson she mourns over the 17 days that provide the novel with its structure, the present from which her memory takes flight. Surprises abound, as the novel proceeds from the intimacy of a bereaved woman's recollections to a meditation on life, death, identity and America that achieves an epic scope and philosophical depth. It also sustains a page-turning momentum, leaving the reader in suspense until the very end whether this novel is an extended suicide note, a confession or an affirmation of life's blessings and embrace of its contradictions, as those various strains show the possibility of becoming one. As Lilly writes, "I am dwelling on things I love, even if a measure of tragedy is stitched into everything, if you follow the thread long enough." She finds her experience and identity profoundly shaped by America, a prism that puts her native Ireland in fresh perspective: "People love Ireland because they can never know it, like a partner in a successful marriage." Through her extended contemplation of "the gift of life, oftentimes so difficult to accept, the horse whose teeth we are often so inclined to inspect," Lilly reveals herself to be a woman of uncommon sense and boundless compassion.

        A novel to be savored.

        (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 1, 2011

        Lilly Bere's complex life spans 20th-century America: owing to IRA death threats, she flees Ireland with her fiance, he's killed, she marries and survives the Depression, her husband disappears, she raises a son who's called up for Vietnam, then he disappears, leaving a young son behind. Summed up that way, this book sounds implausible, but the award-winning Barry (e.g., Costa Book of the Year) has the skill to make it work. With a six-city tour.

        Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        August 1, 2011
        Twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Barry delivers another intimate take on the consequences of violence, this time moving beyond Ireland's troubles to touch on many of the twentieth century's low points. In tripping, liquid prose that adroitly evokes everything from the smell of an Irish countryside to the heaviness of grief, Barry's narrator, Lilly, looks back on her life with hard-earned wisdom. Spanning more than 80 years, her life has been shattered time and again by conflicts that rob her of loved ones and any sense of security. Early on, an IRA death threat sent her fleeing to America, but things were no simpler there. Closely affected by one seminal event after another (her eventual employer just happened to be a Kennedy-type figure), her life seems sometimes too fraught, too historically entangled, though it is, after all, terribly plausible. And although a measure of tragedy is stitched into everything, at its center it is really a story of the profound if not permanent bonds of friendship and love that underpin a tumultuous existence.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from July 15, 2011

        A masterful novel filled with the bittersweet ruminations of an 89-year-old woman as she reflects on her rich life while contemplating death.

        The latest from the award-winning Irish novelist (The Secret Scripture, 2008, etc.) and playwright takes the form of a first-person narrative by Lilly Bere, who has lived most of her life in America since emigrating from Ireland in the wake of World War I, after she and her fianc� were targeted by the IRA. Lilly largely recounts her life through the men who have defined it: the father who raised her, the fianc� whom she followed into exile, the mysterious American husband who wooed her after her fianc�'s murder, the son who became a walking casualty of war, the grandson she mourns over the 17 days that provide the novel with its structure, the present from which her memory takes flight. Surprises abound, as the novel proceeds from the intimacy of a bereaved woman's recollections to a meditation on life, death, identity and America that achieves an epic scope and philosophical depth. It also sustains a page-turning momentum, leaving the reader in suspense until the very end whether this novel is an extended suicide note, a confession or an affirmation of life's blessings and embrace of its contradictions, as those various strains show the possibility of becoming one. As Lilly writes, "I am dwelling on things I love, even if a measure of tragedy is stitched into everything, if you follow the thread long enough." She finds her experience and identity profoundly shaped by America, a prism that puts her native Ireland in fresh perspective: "People love Ireland because they can never know it, like a partner in a successful marriage." Through her extended contemplation of "the gift of life, oftentimes so difficult to accept, the horse whose teeth we are often so inclined to inspect," Lilly reveals herself to be a woman of uncommon sense and boundless compassion.

        A novel to be savored.

        (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

popularity
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shortDescription
Longlisted for the Booker Prize, a mesmerizing new novel from the award-winning author of Old God's Time
A first-person narrative of Lilly Bere’s life, On Canaan’s Side opens as the eighty-five-year-old Irish émigré mourns the loss of her grandson, Bill. Lilly, the daughter of a Dublin policeman, revisits her eventful past, going back to the moment she was forced to flee Ireland at the end of the First World War. She continues her tale in America, where—far from her family—she first tastes the sweetness of love and the bitterness of betrayal.
Spanning nearly seven decades, Sebastian Barry’s extraordinary fifth novel explores memory, war, family ties, love, and loss, distilling the complexity and beauty of life into his haunting prose.
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Penguin Publishing Group
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