The Secret Scripture follows elderly mental patient Roseanne McNulty as she recounts the events that shaped her life during the Irish Civil War. At the start of the war, Roseanne is a beautiful young woman, full of curiosity and vivacity, who struggles with the inexorable forces of war, religion, gender imbalance and social upheaval. Though multiple tragedies befall Roseanne, her story is free of self-pity and blame. It’s an incredible story, actually, so expertly told that it is sublime pleasure to read of it. And her story isn’t the only story. Her doctor’s narration is interspersed with hers, giving the plot an unexpected and thrilling turn. If you’ve enjoyed reading writers like Ann Patchett and Richard Powers, you’ll wonder how you missed The Secret Scripture when it first received attention in 2008, and you’ll be happy to hear that Sebastian Barry has written a new book, On Canaan’s Side, that has received excellent reviews and shares many of the same qualities that make The Secret Scripture so marvelous.