Our February Books@One book club session allowed us the opportunity to discuss Sebastian Barry’s ‘Days Without End’, winner of the 2016 Costa Book of the Year Award. According to the Costa judges it is ‘a miracle of a book’ and as you delve into the world of Thomas McNulty as he traverses across the epic landscape of 1850s America, you can see why it has garnered so much success.
Escaping a famine ridden Ireland, Thomas must find any way to survive in his new found
home. America is depicted as a world of great savagery and tenderness and it is this contrast that propels the characters through a whirlwind of events. Whether you want to use phrases like the American Frontier or the Wild West, iconic images from the Indian Wars and the following Civil War litter every page.
While a reader may feel familiar with such portrayals, it is the fresh perspective of our leading man and his unforgettable personal journey that adds new heart to a time of great prejudice and conflict. This searing tale of violence and romance left us enthused and uplifted.
Written in a stirring combination of colloquial and poetic language, be warned that it may take you a few pages to feel at home with the hybrid Irish-American phrasing of Thomas. The blending of voices and of cultures is actually a core part of the novel; America was and hopefully will remain a beautiful melting pot of nations - an apparent weakness that is really a hidden strength.
Our pick for March sees us take on the challenge of Rachel Polonsky’s book on Vyacheslav Molotov, one of Stalin’s most ruthless henchmen, in ‘Molotov’s Magic Lantern’. Polonsky takes us through the atrocities of Stalin’s reign but also shines a light on the courage of Russia’s writers and their response to the brutal regime they encountered.
Both books are available for purchase in store. We hope you enjoy our choices as much as we have.