Review of ‘On Canaan’s Side’ by Sebastian Barry

On Canaan's SideContemplating suicide following the death of her grandson, Lilly Bere looks back on the story of her life.

Lilly has lived a very eventful life spanning two continents and has seen more than her fair share of death and suffering, however I found this book unengaging and lacking in suspense.

The potential drama of the story is undermined by the understated, detached way in which the book is written; and the absence of emotion or melodrama makes the event of Lilly’s life seem unbelievable.

I found the language, an old fashioned Irish vernacular, jarring and found it very hard to get into this book. The first 60-70 pages are meandering and ponderous. By the time the story got going I didn’t really care about the fate of any of the characters.

The plot should give the book a strong basis to be a fascinating and exciting read, however it never lives up to this potential.

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