On Canaan’s Side- Sebastian Barry

“The lake wind blew down from Canada and in through the slats of our room, and played about our faces and hands, and snuck into our layers of socks, and found out our vulnerable toes.”

on canann's sideThis is a beautifully written lyrical book. I’ve read a few of Sebastian Barry’s books, and a character who peeks into one will suddenly emerge to tell their own story in another.

This is the story of Lilly Bere, as her 89-year-old self looks back on her life, journeying from Ireland to America.  While Lilly’s life is shaped by historical events, it is very much her own story and her own narrative that takes precedence. Being narrated in the first person gives the reader immediate access to Lilly and a more intimate view of her story. Lilly is stoic about the events of her life and the world around her, but I don’t think she ever gives herself enough credit for her own strength of character.

The writing is beautiful, the most poetic thing I have read in prose, none more so than Lilly’s flowing description of a rollercoaster ride with her friend Cissy.


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