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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 28, 2009 @ 10:59 am

    It all came good (or bad) in the end

    Fiona McCann

    Dubliner Sebastian Barry has won the Costa Book of the Year award for his novel The Secret Scripture, despite the fact that among the judges “almost nobody liked the ending.” It’s a powerful book, beautifully written and, I think, important in allowing voices from Irish history that have been drowned out or silenced over the years to have their say and tell their stories BUT (no surprises here), the ending is a strangely neat wrap of a story compelling for its lack of same. If that makes any sense. It does seem a strange decision on the part of the judges to reveal how close their vote was (Adam Foulds’ The Broken Word was a near contender), and to discuss their quibbles with their chosen book, one that takes away from Barry’s long-awaited day. Regardless, it’s a happy ending for Barry – but what about the book? Anyone think the judges (Matthew Parris, Alexander Armstrong, Michael Buerk, Andrea Catherwood, Victoria Hislop, Lisa Jewell, Roger McGough, Pauline McLynn and Rosamund Pike) got it wrong about the ending, or indeed about the winner?

    • Chris says:

      I thought it was a great book but I’d share the judges sentiments regarding the ending. I loved the slightly ambiguous nature of the majority of the book and the ending certainly took away from that a little. It seemed far too neat, unnecessarily so I thought. I can’t imagine anyone reading it would have been thinking ‘God I hope there’s a big mad Scooby Doo-ish twist at the end of this’, strange that he felt the need to provide one. It struck me that it was more in keeping with an Agatha Christie novel than anything else. Nonetheless, a well-deserved win I think- as much to make up for ‘A Long, Long way’ winning nothing a few years ago as anything else.

    • Fiona says:

      Chris: Have to say, I agree with all of the above. Didn’t expect it to neaten so, and was disappointed by it, but what beautiful writing!

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