Synopses & Reviews
Praised as a “master storyteller” (The Wall Street Journal
) and hailed for his “flawless use of language” (Boston Herald
), Irish author and playwright Sebastian Barry has created a powerful new novel about divided loyalties and the realities of war.
In 1914, Willie Dunne, barely eighteen years old, leaves behind Dublin, his family, and the girl he plans to marry in order to enlist in the Allied forces and face the Germans on the Western Front. Once there, he encounters a horror of violence and gore he could not have imagined and sustains his spirit with only the words on the pages from home and the camaraderie of the mud-covered Irish boys who fight and die by his side. Dimly aware of the political tensions that have grown in Ireland in his absence, Willie returns on leave to find a world split and ravaged by forces closer to home. Despite the comfort he finds with his family, he knows he must rejoin his regiment and fight until the end. With grace and power, Sebastian Barry vividly renders Willie’s personal struggle as well as the overwhelming consequences of war.
"Barry succeeds admirably in creating complex individuals who find themselves trapped in a brutal reality....Beautiful and soul-wrenching." Los Angeles Times
"The story grips, shocks and saddens; but most importantly refuses to be forgotten." The Times (London)
"Barry's prequel to the fine Annie Dunne (2002) turns to WWI for the story of a young Dublin soldier who loses love, crown, country, and family in the war-torn desolation....Flawless, honest, humane, moving." Kirkus Reviews
Willie Dunne is a gifted and bright boy, growing up in Dublin with his three younger sisters. His policeman father works under the British regime of the early 1900s and has plans for Willie to do the same, but Willie dreams of marrying his girlfriend and becoming a builder. WWI changes all that. Willie goes off to battle on the Western Front in 1915, and his life is never the same. We follow him there through the letters he writes home, and a diary he keeps. Willie must shoulder the unending internal damages of the war along with the hatred of his own countrymen for fighting for Britain. Sebastian Barry captures this brutal war and the life of Willie with masterful grace and lyrical skill.
With acclaimed works like The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, Irish author Sebastian Barry has earned a reputation as a "master storyteller" (The Wall Street Journal). In A Long Long Way he has created an unforgettable portrait of the horrors of war through the story of Willie Dunne, a young man who leaves his native Dublin in 1914 to join the Allies on the Western Front. Caught between the catastrophic violence he encounters there and the growing political tension at home over Irish independence, Willie finds himself confronting unbearable choices regarding family, patriotism, and the devotion he feels toward his regiment. A deeply affecting portrayal of personal struggle and the consequences of war, this is one of Barry's most powerful accomplishments.
About the Author
Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. His plays include Boss Grady's Boys (1988), The Steward of Christendom (1995), Our Lady of Sligo (1998), The Pride of Parnell Street (2007), and Dallas Sweetman (2008). Among his novels are The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), Annie Dunne (2002) and A Long Long Way (2005), the latter shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His poetry includes The Water-Colourist (1982), Fanny Hawke Goes to the Mainland Forever (1989) and The Pinkening Boy (2005). His awards include the Irish-America Fund Literary Award, The Christopher Ewart-Biggs Prize, the London Critics Circle Award, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize, and Costa Awards for Best Novel and Book of the Year. He lives in Wicklow with his wife Ali, and three children, Merlin, Coral, and Tobias.