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October book of the month: Days without End by Sebastian Barry - Join the author webchat 6 November, 9pm

(88 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 29-Sep-17 09:12:52

Our October book of the month is Sebastian Barry's remarkable novel about two young men growing up in 1800s America. Having signed up for the army they are sent to fight in the Indian Wars and later in the American Civil War. This is a brutal and violent story but also an epic love story beautifully told by Barry's sensuous and lyrical prose.

Days Without End is the deserved winner of the 2016 Costa Book Award and was longlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize. It is undoubtedly one of our favourite books of the year and we're honoured and excited that Sebastian Barry will be joining us in November to answer questions about the novel. We'll announce the date as soon as it's firmed up but in the meantime, hop over to the book of the month page to apply for a free copy (there's 50 up for grabs). We'll be closing the giveaway at 10am on Wednesday 4 October and the books will be sent out later that week. If you're not selected this month, please do buy a copy and read ahead of the webchat.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 06-Oct-17 16:12:19

The giveaway is now closed and we'll be contacting all those who were allocated books later today. If you haven't been lucky this month, please do buy a copy or download the ebook and read ahead of the webchat in November.

aristocat Mon 16-Oct-17 16:28:34

I didn’t get an email but the book arrived today smile
I will start reading asap

Thank You.

iamdivergent Mon 16-Oct-17 16:47:48

Same here. Looking forward to reading.

Belo Mon 16-Oct-17 19:28:15

My book arrived today! Thank you very much. I’ll start reading it this evening.

kellycanno Thu 19-Oct-17 17:52:42

Is really enjoying this book cant put it down thanks brewcake

Gooseysgirl Fri 20-Oct-17 22:13:57

Also got mine, three chapters in already... enjoying it so far!

BetterEatCheese Sun 22-Oct-17 07:55:40

Thank you for the copy! I'm really enjoying this book - I love the way it is written

1969angep Sun 22-Oct-17 17:45:29

I just finished reading this - totally unlike anything I've ever read before! I must admit that a longlist for The Man Booker Prize is not the type of thing that attracts me (I often find prize winning books to be hard going and overly "worthy") so I approached it thinking I wasn't likely to enjoy it.
I was wrong.
The descriptions in the book were vivid and made for a heartbreaking portrayal of the American Civil War.
At the heart of the book we have two soldiers. They are a couple and Thomas has a fondness for wearing dresses. During periods when they are not away fighting they have formed an entertainment act - a good way of being accepted as a transgender man at such a time.
It is when they "adopt" an Indian girl that things really change. I found myself really enthralled by the final few chapters when it seems that a happy post-war life may not be on the cards for them.
The contrast between these fighting men, and the horrors they endure during the war, and a couple who want to form a family with this child are so stark. The writing style is blunt at times yet sweeping in it's scope at the same time.
A really moving read that will remain with the reader long after they've read the last word.

Belo Mon 23-Oct-17 22:33:31

I’ve just finished the book. The last hundred pages were read with my heart in my mouth! What beautiful writing about a horrible period of American history. I am at a loss as to how come this book did not make the Booker shortlist.

iamdivergent Tue 24-Oct-17 06:24:01

Does anyone know when the web discussion is likely to be. Im halfway through another book and wondering if in should abandon it yo read Days Without End

kellycanno Thu 26-Oct-17 11:18:44

Really loving this book nearly finnished i will finnsih it today i hope x👏👏👏

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 27-Oct-17 09:43:21

Great to hear you're enjoying the book. The webchat with Sebastian Barry is on Monday 6 November at 9pm. We'll be emailing all those who were sent free books with a reminder. If you haven't been allocated a free copy this month, please do buy a copy and join us for the webchat - it's an amazing book and it should be a really interesting author discussion.

SallySwann Fri 27-Oct-17 19:52:58

I've finished this and found it enthralling. Looking forward to the we chat.

MoNigheanDonn Fri 27-Oct-17 20:47:21

Just starting it now

Greensmurf1 Mon 30-Oct-17 21:45:05

Just finished reading Days Without End. The narrator has such an interesting "voice". I felt like I was at times reading a diary or somehow tapping into someone's internal monologue. It was indeed lyrical prose and enabled my imagination to picture so much of the action.

I think it's only the second novel I've read which weaves gender identity themes into the narrative. The other one I can think of is Middlesex.

I'd be interested to find out more about Sebastian Barry's research into historical records, how he developed the characters and whether there were letters and diaries that revealed details of the lives of actual transgendered people living in that era. It's not a side of American history we really explored in school. We did, in some ways, get the less than exalted picture of the brutality of western expansion, the Civil War and its aftermath, but it was presented in less graphic terms and we didn't get the intimate details that historical fiction can allow.

BouncingJellyfish Thu 02-Nov-17 21:53:57

This is the second Sebastian Barry novel I've read, and it wasn't til the very very end that I realized that these characters probably cross over from The Secret Scripture, which I read about four years ago. I just googled it- is Thomas the absent husband of Roseanne?

I was really looking forward to reading this, as I remembered how much I enjoyed how well written The Secret Scripture was. This book didn't disappoint me. I really believed in the characters. I was rooting for Thomas/Thomasina, and wanted him to have a happy ending, living peacefully with Winona and John Cole. I began this book "cold" without reading any reviews or synopsis, only that it was set in the Civil War. It was moving and powerful, and had me emotionally invested in the three main characters. What inspired you to take Thomas McNulty from Ireland to America, and did you go to visit the locations in the novel to help you write about them? Also, if you don't mind me asking, were there personal reasons and experiences, to why you wrote about a relationship between two men? I really enjoyed enjoyed reading this book, as well as The Secret Scripture.

MoNigheanDonn Fri 03-Nov-17 13:13:18

Just finished - what a stunning novel! Looking forward to Mondays chat smile

aristocat Mon 06-Nov-17 14:22:16

I thought this was such a powerful book and cannot wait until the webchat later.
It is a beautiful story of hope, despair, loyalty and love.
I look forward to seeing it made into a film smile

katiebasey Mon 06-Nov-17 15:05:19

Really loved reading this book,, halfway through. Such a beautiful story.

lalamcbride Mon 06-Nov-17 20:05:21

I have read lots of reviews stating that your son and his relationships was the inspiration for this book. You had stated in an interview in the guardian that "One of my son’s great fascinations is in drag, we watch RuPaul’s Drag Race together, so I realise that’s a very important part of the landscape." My question for you is was the above the inspiration for the young men dancing in drag at the start of the book.

SallySwann Mon 06-Nov-17 20:53:54

Ireland does seem to be the backdrop to most of your work being your home country. What inspired you to take this one across the Atlantic and set it in the time of battles against the Indians in the Wild West and of course the American Civil War?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 06-Nov-17 21:01:47

Good evening to everyone who is able to join us this evening and a very warm welcome to Sebastian Barry. We're thrilled that you've agreed to answer questions on Days Without End. So many bookclubbers have already commented on how much they have enjoyed the book and we're really looking forward to discussing it with you over the next hour. Welcome to Mumsnet Sebastian and over to you....

BetterEatCheese Mon 06-Nov-17 21:02:13

I love this book, beautifully written. The scenes between the American soldiers and Indians really stuck with me, such traumatic events, I had no idea. It's sparked a real interest in this area - what research did you do and would you recommend any books or films on the subject?

SebastianBarry Mon 06-Nov-17 21:02:31

Hello all,

Here I am far away in our old stone house in the Wicklow mountains, ready to answer yr questions!

Sebastian.

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