On Canaan's Side
On Canaan's Side, which was longlisted but not shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize, tells the story of Lily Bere, an elderly Irish American and her "First Day Without Bill" through to her "Seventeenth Day Without Bill". Bill, her grandson, has before the beginning of this novel committed suicide after returning home from the original Gulf War.
On Canaan's Side acts as a memoir for Lily, as she flits between the visits of her friends in her hour of need, and her history beginning with her childhood in Dublin. Though it takes a death as its main plot focus around which the story unfolds it is very much your average "old lady looks back upon her life" novel. It is nicely written and involving and includes much of the history that Lily would have lived through, the Civil Rights movement, political assassinations and Vietnam, right back to the First World War and the changing times of Ireland in the 1920's and how world events can directly impact individual lives.
It was a nice book, and I enjoyed reading it, but, it won't be one which will linger in my mind for a long while to come, or perhaps one which I will particularly remember reading without the aid of the blog. It's also slightly depressing as Lily lives a long, tragedy filled life, were she is often ill used and alone. Apparently Lily's family, the Dunnes are also characters in two other Sebastian Barry novels Annie Dunne and A Long, Long, Way and one day I may read some of those to complete the picture, but, so many books.......so little time..........