A long long way written by Sebastian Barry was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2005 and tells an amazing and extremely well written story.
This is the third novel I have read by Barry and have to say he is fast becoming one of my favourite writers.
This is the story of Willie Dunne who at the age of eighteen is too short to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a policeman in Dublin but who is old enough to volunteer and fight for England in World War 1. ,and so Willie leaves behind Dublin, his family and the girl he plans to marry to enlist in the allied forces in the Great War, partly to prove himself a man and please his father. At the time of the first world war there was an understanding among the Irish people that Ireland would gain Home Rule within the coming few years and young men like Willie Dunne took up the cause to fight for King, Country and Empire against the Germans in the hope that this would further their cause while another section of Irish refused to fight for England and they instead took up Arms in the Rising of 1916 in Dublin to gain Irish freedom. While Willie Dunne and the Dublin Fusiliers suffer abroad, Dublin City is suffering during the Easter Rising and men like Willie Dunne and his comrades are thought of and regarded as traitors by their fellow countrymen.
Having recently visited Kilmainham Gaol where the executions in May 1916 of fourteen of the leaders of the failed 1916 Easter Rising took place and having the tour information and pictures of the executed men fresh in my head I was emotionally and factually ready for a novel of this depth.
This is a tough read and certainly not for the faint hearted so if you get put off by horrific scenes of war and vulgar and brutal happenings then this is not the novel for you but this certainly is account of war that that takes you right into the trenches with young Willie Dunne and his comrades and you experience a teensy tiny bit of their fear and their anguish and the squalor and the camaraderie of the men who both fight and die side by side.
A 5 star rating for me and a book that will stay with me.