A Thousand Moons
A dazzling new novel about memory and identity set in Paris, Tennessee in the aftermath of the American civil war from the Booker Prize shortlisted authorWinona Cole, an orphaned child of the Lakota Indians, finds herself growing up in an unconventional household on a farm in West Tennessee. Raised by her adoptive father John Cole and his brother-in-arms Thomas McNulty, this odd little family scrapes a living on Lige Magan’s farm with the help two freed slaves, the Bougereau siblings. They try to keep the brutal outside world at bay, along with their memories of the past. But Tennessee is a state still riven by the bitter legacy of the civil war and when first Winona and then Tennyson Bouguereau are violently attacked by forces unknown, Colonel Purton raises the Militia to quell the rebels and night-riders who are massing on the outskirts of town. Armed with a knife, Tennyson’s borrowed gun and the courage of her famous warrior mother Winona decides to take matters into her own hands and embarks on a quest for justice which will uncover the dark secrets of her past and finally reveal to her who she really is. Exquisitely written and thrumming with the irrepressible spirit of a young girl on the brink of adulthood, A Thousand Moons is a glorious story of love and redemption.

A Thousand Moons Details

TitleA Thousand Moons
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 21st, 2020
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780735223103
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Literary Fiction, LGBT

A Thousand Moons Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    A heartrending and moving historical novel from the talented Sebastian Barry, written with his trademark vibrant, lyrical and sublime prose, set amidst the unsettling and disturbing repercussions of the Civil War in 1870s Tennessee, seen through the distinctive voice and eyes of the traumatised Winona. The reader is returned to the lives and unconventional family of Thomas McNulty and John Cole, living on the farm with Lige Magan, scrabbling to survive in the harshest of environments, growing A heartrending and moving historical novel from the talented Sebastian Barry, written with his trademark vibrant, lyrical and sublime prose, set amidst the unsettling and disturbing repercussions of the Civil War in 1870s Tennessee, seen through the distinctive voice and eyes of the traumatised Winona. The reader is returned to the lives and unconventional family of Thomas McNulty and John Cole, living on the farm with Lige Magan, scrabbling to survive in the harshest of environments, growing tobacco, with the Lakota orphan, Ojanjintka, known as Winona and two black ex-slaves, Rosalee and Tennyson. It is a brutal world where poverty, prejudice and racism proliferates, where Native American Indians like Winona, are less than nothing, perceived as less than human with no rights whatsoever.The vulnerable Winona looks back at her challenging past, she knew far more about her Lakota background and beliefs than presumed, she had been taught to read and write, and ending up working as a clerk for a lawyer in town. She has to face the most terrifying of incidents where she is attacked and raped, but knows not by whom. The novel focuses on how she responds to her desperate plight, negotiating the most difficult of paths to survive the trials and tribulations that come her way and grow, in a family that faces other dangers. Barry's storytelling is atmospheric, immersive, compassionate, and utterly riveting in its depiction of American history, a history and issues that continue to hold an all too tenacious grip on our contemporary realities today. This is a beautifully imagined novel with emotional heart, with complex characters that illustrate the twin sides of humanity, the worst aspects, the cruelties, and its horrors, side by side with its best face, the love, the kindness and essential goodness. Highly recommended coming of age read of identity, love, loss, friendship, family, loss, grief, survival and sorrow. Many thanks to Faber and Faber for an ARC.
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  • Ceecee
    January 1, 1970
    This is the beautifully told story of Winona Cole or to give her Lakota name - Ojinjintka. Its 1870s Tennessee, torn apart by the destruction of the Civil War and not healing well. Its dangerous, ravaged by night riders led by Zach Petrie, its discontented and full of burgeoning prejudice, not only towards Indians but also to ex-slaves. The infamous words of Colonel John Chivington at Sand Creek still applies, kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice. In these brutal times, Winona is a This is the beautifully told story of Winona Cole or to give her Lakota name - Ojinjintka. It’s 1870’s Tennessee, torn apart by the destruction of the Civil War and not healing well. It’s dangerous, ravaged by ‘night riders’ led by Zach Petrie, it’s discontented and full of burgeoning prejudice, not only towards Indians but also to ex-slaves. The infamous words of Colonel John Chivington at Sand Creek still applies, ‘kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice’. In these brutal times, Winona is a non- person with no rights. Despite this, the book is ultimately about love, courage, survival and the search for identity. Winona lives with Thomas McNulty and John Cole on the land owned by Lige Magan. These are fantastically created characters, as is her Chickasaw friend Peg, who spring of the page in full technicolour. They love Winona, protect her and care for her. She faces some horrifying and terrifying situations but their love for her never wavers. Winona is the narrator and she is fascinating. She has faced so many dangers since being removed from her Wyoming birthplace and I especially love the references to her Lakota background but also how it is set in the context of the time. The writing is vivid and feels incredibly authentic and her voice comes through very strongly. Sebastian Barry is a writer of tremendous talent and so beautiful is the prose that it is almost lyrical. He captures the way that people think and speak with precision. Overall, this is a wonderful novel. I love the history of the American West and am especially fascinated by the native peoples, in particular The Lakota so this book definitely ‘speaks to me’. I love the way it’s written through Winona’s eyes and her story has everything from sorrow and loss to love, from brutality to kindness and from near death to salvation. The end is very spiritual and achingly beautiful. Highly recommended.
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  • Dem
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 Stars Sebastian Barry is a master of prose and story and having loved the majority of his novels I was eager to get my hands on A Thousand Moons and the sequel to Days Without End. Unfortunately this was just an ok read for me and didnt wow me like The Secret Scripture or A Long Long Way and perhaps my expectations was too high. I had previously read Days Without End a few years ago, it still took me quite a while to connect with the characters of John Cole, Thomas McNulty and Winona, a 2.5 Stars Sebastian Barry is a master of prose and story and having loved the majority of his novels I was eager to get my hands on A Thousand Moons and the sequel to Days Without End. Unfortunately this was just an ok read for me and didn’t wow me like The Secret Scripture or A Long Long Way and perhaps my expectations was too high. I had previously read Days Without End a few years ago, it still took me quite a while to connect with the characters of John Cole, Thomas McNulty and Winona, a Lakota girl orphaned and raised by John and Thomas and while this is a sequel, I really struggled to remember what had gone on previously and am not really sure how this would work as a stand alone.Winona is a young Lakota orphan adopted by former soldiers Thomas McNulty and John Cole.Living with Thomas and John on the farm they work in 1870s Tennessee, she is educated and loved, forging a life for herself beyond the violence and dispossession of her past. But the fragile harmony of her unlikely family unit, in the aftermath of the Civil War, is soon threatened by a further traumatic event, one which Winona struggles to confront, let alone understand.Barry’s prose is always beautiful and yet I struggled with the telling of the story through the character of Winola. I found it really difficult to stay engaged with this story. There is a harshness and brutality about the story and yet Barry leaves quite a lot to the reader’s imagination. An ok read but unfortunately not one for my real life bookshelf. My Thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this in return for an honest review.
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  • Debra
    January 1, 1970
    "I come from the saddest story that ever was on the earth. " Ojinjintka, now known as Winona Cole, is an orphaned child of the Lakota Indians. She is now being raised in an unconventional home on a farm in West Tennessee. She is being raised by John Cole and Thomas McNulty and two freed slaves, Rosalee and Tennyson. It's a harsh world where Winona and Rosalee and Tennyson are viewed as less than human - they have no rights and live in a world full of racism and prejudice. Winona has experienced "I come from the saddest story that ever was on the earth. " Ojinjintka, now known as Winona Cole, is an orphaned child of the Lakota Indians. She is now being raised in an unconventional home on a farm in West Tennessee. She is being raised by John Cole and Thomas McNulty and two freed slaves, Rosalee and Tennyson. It's a harsh world where Winona and Rosalee and Tennyson are viewed as less than human - they have no rights and live in a world full of racism and prejudice. Winona has experienced a lot of tragedy and loss in her life. She lives in a dangerous time and hardship is a way of life as is survival. If anyone has read Barry's work previously, you know his prose is lyrical and poetic. His writing is beautiful, and he utilizes the character of Winona to describe not only the bleakness and harshness of life but also to show love and tenderness. Having said that, there were sections of this book I wanted to move along. I felt those sections lasted a thousand moons for me. I don't know if it was my mood at the time, but my appreciation flipped and flopped while reading this book. At times, I wanted to shake my book and yell just get to it already - this is becoming way too wordy; other times, I sat and savored the beautiful prose. I went back and forth between 3 and 3.5 stars but ultimately decided on 3 stars.I enjoyed Winona and her family. I loved how they cared for and looked after each other. It doesn't take blood to make a family - these characters proved that. I thought the story was powerful but just wanted those sections which didn't work for me to move along.Other readers enjoyed this book more than I did, I encourage everyone to read those reviews as well.I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
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  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    Part 2 of Sebastian Barry's award-winning masterpiece Days Without End is told by Winona Cole, the adopted daughter of Thomas McNulty (narrator of part 1) and the love of his life, John Cole. Short recap: Thomas fled the Great Famine in Ireland and fought in the Indian Wars and the American Civil War with fellow soldier John Cole. They adopted orphaned Lakota Winona (although they did not know whether they were partly responsible for the death of her family) and moved to Lige Magan's farm to Part 2 of Sebastian Barry's award-winning masterpiece Days Without End is told by Winona Cole, the adopted daughter of Thomas McNulty (narrator of part 1) and the love of his life, John Cole. Short recap: Thomas fled the Great Famine in Ireland and fought in the Indian Wars and the American Civil War with fellow soldier John Cole. They adopted orphaned Lakota Winona (although they did not know whether they were partly responsible for the death of her family) and moved to Lige Magan's farm to live as a family. In case you haven't read part 1, there are several flashbacks woven into part 2, but it's certainly better to read these novels in their proper order (part 1 is also insanely good, so do yourself a favor and pick it up). Now, we encounter the Cole family still living on the farm in Paris, Tennessee with old Lige and two freed slaves, Rosalee and her brother Tennyson, farming tobacco. The atmosphere around them is hostile: The Confederacy might have lost the war, but racism and hatred are still alive and well - it's a dangerous time for soldiers who fought for the Union, Black people and Native Americans. When both Tennyson and Winona get attacked, the community at the farm and their friends want to seek justice - but who were the culprits? Winona, aiming to follow the example of her brave mother, acts to make sure she and the ones she loves are safe, setting in motion a violent course of events...Once again, Barry creates a particular diction for his narrator, thus conveying a specific outlook on the world. Much like in the case of Thomas McNulty, Winona's language is simple, but intense, and it is very effective in lending the whole story, which largely deals with violence and hate, an emotional heart, thus exposing the unfolding events as even more dire and inhumane. Winona, who lost her tribe as a six-year-old child, is still deeply rooted in Lakota beliefs she learnt as a kid, among them the story of the "thousand moons": "For my mother time was a kind of strange hoop or a circle, not a long string. If you walked far enough, she said, you could find the people still living who had lived in the long ago. 'A thousand moons all at once', she called it." This conviction that what is past is not lost or over will prove central to the novel. Winona also looks up to Thomas and John for their love and loyalty. Her drive and her decisions is what pushes the story forward and gives it speed - it feels much faster than part 1, where Thomas was often caught up in historic turmoil and developed a sense of agency through his love for John Cole. While the text as a whole is certainly successful - moving and exciting, crafted with wonderful poetic sensibility - some turn of events do feel slightly contrived and the narrative arc is sometimes a little meandering. But while my head did tell me this, my reading heart did not care: Sebastian Barry is a freakin' master, and his character building is unbelievable (Thomas McNulty is still one of the best characters I have ever encountered in a novel). Again, the author juxtaposes human compassion and human cruelty, pointing out that it's our decision who we want to be, throughout history. The diverging historic tendencies that play out in the background of the story are a testament to this: There is the rise of the neo-confederate first Ku-Klux-Klan, but also the building of colleges like Fisk in Nashville. Reading this novel, it is striking how the historical phenomena Barry describes have, to a degree, never ceased to be current. I hope there will be a part 3 to this unusual saga about a family that is one because they choose to, against all odds.
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  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    Following on from Days Without End, 'A Thousand Moons' is told from Winona's point of view. With the end of the American civil war John Cole and Thomas McNulty have left their fighting (and theatrical) days behind them and settled down in Tennessee on Lige Magan's tobacco farm with Winona, their adopted Lakota Indian daughter. Together with freed slaves Tennyson and Rosalee Bouguereau, this odd assembly have formed a family of sorts and work the farm together. Winona is now grown and educated in Following on from Days Without End, 'A Thousand Moons' is told from Winona's point of view. With the end of the American civil war John Cole and Thomas McNulty have left their fighting (and theatrical) days behind them and settled down in Tennessee on Lige Magan's tobacco farm with Winona, their adopted Lakota Indian daughter. Together with freed slaves Tennyson and Rosalee Bouguereau, this odd assembly have formed a family of sorts and work the farm together. Winona is now grown and educated in writing and arithmetic and has a job with a kind and liberal minded lawyer keeping his books. She even has an admirer, Jas Jonski, who she has agreed to marry, although he is not liked by any of her family. Despite her stable and contented home, life is still harsh for Winona with the farm barely scratching a living, racism rife and violent men released from the army roaming the country. Both Winona and Tennyson are attacked and beaten in incidents where they couldn't identify the attackers, leading to a series of events that erupt in violence and threaten the safety of Winona's existence.Told with Barry's unique, lyrical and emotive prose, this is a tale of love and hate as Winona seeks justice for herself and Tennyson. She very much values the kindness and fairness of the lawyer Briscoe as well as the love and compassion she receives from Thomas and John and the love they have for each other ("Their love was the first commandment of my world - Thou shalt hope to love like them."). She is also coming to terms with her heritage and what she remembers of life with her mother and their tribe and realises this is an important part of herself. Although written on a less grand scale than 'Days Without Ends', this heartfelt novel gives a fine feel of the troubled times of that particular period of post civil war history and the courage and spirit of its most deprived people. With thanks to Netgalley and Faber & Faber for a digital copy to read
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  • Peter Boyle
    January 1, 1970
    Sebastian Barry's previous novel caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting to like Days Without End so much, but its tale of love and war on the American plains really stirred my emotions. I was more than eager to read the sequel.A Thousand Moons is narrated by Winona, the Native American girl adopted by John Cole and Thomas McNulty in the earlier story. She lives with the couple and the Bouguereau siblings on the Tennessee farm of Lige Magan, making an unconventional but happy family. Things Sebastian Barry's previous novel caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting to like Days Without End so much, but its tale of love and war on the American plains really stirred my emotions. I was more than eager to read the sequel.A Thousand Moons is narrated by Winona, the Native American girl adopted by John Cole and Thomas McNulty in the earlier story. She lives with the couple and the Bouguereau siblings on the Tennessee farm of Lige Magan, making an unconventional but happy family. Things change when Jas Jonski, a local shop clerk, declares his love for Winona and intentions to marry her. She is initially excited and flattered, but a vicious assault knocks her sideways. Winona is so discombobulated that she cannot remember the exact details of the attack. However, she has an inclination that Jonski was involved. Then her friend Tennyson Bouguereau, an ex-slave, is beaten in an unprovoked assault. She rides out with the Freedmen militia to avenge these crimes and ends up with a lot more than she bargained for.There are some truly beautiful sentences in this book. Like how Winona describes Thomas McNulty's rare temper, a man that has lived through the horror of the Civil War: "The rage of Thomas McNulty was very simple. It happened seldom but when it did it was like the anger of righteous angels. He knew the absolute menace of the world. He knew it was a place so knotted with evil that good could only hope to unknot a few tiny threads of it." Or when she seeks the counsel of John Cole on a difficult, delicate matter: "He said nothing for a long while. He was struggling to surface from a deep deep pool of difficulty. Then his face opened again like that spot in the woods touched suddenly by stray sunlight." Winona is eternally grateful to have people like Thomas and John Cole in her life, and prays that one day she will know a love like theirs: "Where John Cole abided, there was to be found Thomas with his simple heart. Their love was the first commandment of my world - Thou shalt hope to love like them. We have all to meet many souls and hearts along the way - we are obliged to - we must pray we can encounter one or two Thomases and John Coles on that journey. Then we can say life was worth the living and love was worth the gamble." All that being said, I believe that A Thousand Moons isn't quite as compelling as Days Without End. Winona's jumbled recollection of events doesn't help things, and I found myself a little frustrated at her muddy account. I did enjoy the period detail and the convincing Reconstruction-era setting that Sebastian Barry depicts. But where the novel really succeeds is in its portrayal of love - the electric attraction, the intoxicating rush of it, how important it is to cling on for dear life when you find that precious spark. The kind of connection we all dream about, and one that some of us are lucky enough to attain.
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  • Gumble's Yard
    January 1, 1970
    Another story she told was one she called The Fall. A great sickness had come to us, she said, a thousand moons ago. Almost everyone died. They fell down and just hours later were dead. Oh, how we feared that story. A thousand moons ago was her deepest measure of time. It was the same measure as Thomas McNultys a hundred years. . For my mother time was a kind of a hoop or a circle, not a long string. If you walked far enough, she said, you could find the people still living who had lived in Another story she told was one she called The Fall. A great sickness had come to us, she said, a thousand moons ago. Almost everyone died. They fell down and just hours later were dead. Oh, how we feared that story. A thousand moons ago was her deepest measure of time. It was the same measure as Thomas McNulty’s ‘a hundred years’. … . For my mother time was a kind of a hoop or a circle, not a long string. If you walked far enough, she said, you could find the people still living who had lived in the long ago. ‘A thousand moons all at once’, she called it. …. This book is a direct sequel to the author’s Costa Book Award winning, literary Western “Days Without End”, taking as its first party narrator, Ojinjintka, the Lakota girl (and orphaned-by-massacre niece o Caught-His-Horse-First) who Thomas McNulty and John Cole take as a servant apprentice after they first are discharged from the army and who Thomas (the narrator of “Days Without End” names Winona after the only Indian girl’s name he knows and can pronounce)The book starts exactly where “Days Without End” does indeed end –Thomas and John are, with two freed slaves (Rosalee and her brother Tennyson), working on their ex-comrade Lige Magan’s Tennessee farm in the aftermath of the Civil War, an aftermath made particularly difficult in Tennessee due to its split loyalties during the war and unresolved tensions after with blacks and Indians still subject to harassment by increasingly unhappy ex-Rebel soldiers. Winona, who has been schooled in reading and writing by Thomas and John, is working as a clerk for a local lawyer.The basic plot of the book is that Winona is courted by a local shop clerk Jas Jonski, but one day is then beaten and raped in an incident she cannot remember. Later Tennyson is badly beaten and rendered mute. The book is about how Winona uncovers the truth behind both assaults, against a background of increasing tension and shifting power allegiances at national and local level.The book has many similarities to Days Without End, going beyond the pre/post Civil War setting and Western styleFirstly in the distinctive writing style which mixes plain speaking characters, and descriptions of violence and harsh poverty, with beautifully poetic imagery, particularly of landscape and weather. “Days Without End” was criticised by some readers for the apparent disconnect between the style and the narrator’s education and background – interestingly (as though Barry had already contemplated his sequel) “Days Without End” itself sets up Winona as being taught from a book how to express herself graciously in English. Secondly I think in the way in which Barry does not employ an omniscient narrator but sticks closely to the first person approach – so that in the first book we understand Thomas’s thoughts and ideas but all of what we see of Winona’s thoughts and feelings is what Thomas hopes/assumes/guesses/intuits about her. In this book however we see ways in which he perhaps misunderstood her true feelings (for example her strong remaining links to her childhood tribal memories, her recollection of events which in the first book Thomas hopes she did not really understand or even see). Thomas in particular underestimates her maturity.And this time, Thomas (who we feel we know well from the first book as a thoughtful and measured character) becomes a less rounded character – much as Winona loves him and appreciates his maternal care for her, she seems him as a little headstrong (his only solution to any problem seeming to be to shoot the person he blames). Winona in particular perhaps overestimates Thomas’s ageing. and there was something in Thomas that spoke of age even if it wasn’t written so much in his face. Men with hard beginnings pay cents on the debt that at length burgeon up to dollars. Though accounted a beauty in his youth it was a mortgaged beauty now. The rats of age were gazing on him from the shadows Thirdly in Barry’s empathetic and nuanced writing style – this is no simple Western of goodies and baddies; yes there is love and sacrifice (but by people capable of great violence) and yes there is evil (but by people capable of unexpected and surprising kindness).However the links to the first book are far deeper and in a way which makes me think it is a clever and deliberate reflection of the book, for example:- The book effectively narrated many years after the events that occurred – which does mean that we know the narrator survives the perils and trials (both figurative and literal) that they face. The hindsight narration and the potential distortions that can bring, are more explicitly acknowledged here. If I say that here following are the real events, you will remember that they are described at a great distance from the time of their happening. And that there is no one to agree to or challenge my account, now. Some of it I am inclined to challenge myself, because I say to myself, could that really have happened, and did I really do that? But we only have one path across the mire of remembrance in general - A narrator who has seen their family die in front of them (by famine and massacre respectively) and who is also fully aware that they and their kin are seen as close to valueless (and almost inhuman) by wider society But the soldiers killed her of course and they killed my father and my uncles. They killed my sister, my aunts, they killed a lot of people. They must have done, because everyone was gone. It was just me then, it felt like. We were nothing to them. I think now of the great value we put on what we were and I wonder what does it mean when another people judge you to be worth so little you were only to be killed? How our pride in everything was crushed so small it disappeared until it was just specks of things floating away on the wind. Where was my mother’s courage then? Was it dust too? We thought the world was called Turtle Island but it turned out it was not. What does that do to your heart, what did it do to mine? Nothing, nothing, nothing, we were nothing. I think about that and think it is the very rooftop of sadness. But maybe that was why Thomas McNulty and John Cole loved me, because I was the child of nothing. - The narrator forced into a form of cross-dressing via expediency and employment- The narrator forming a bond of circumstance and attraction, with a youngster of the same approximate age and sex – a bond that we suspect (and then is confirmed in passing in a passage) has become a relationship- The two first meeting in an incident involving a gun and a bush/hedge- The book’s ending involving a legal trial with the narrator as the accused, knowing their innocence but struggling to have it accepted- A rather contrived resolution to the book’s tensions (actually I preferred “Days Without End” in that respect)Some other areas I felt strong and with both timeless and contemporary:Winona’s shame about telling anyone but Rosalee about her rape: That they would consider me defiled as the preachers might say and that not even Rosalee could sew me good again and that not even a spring and summer could redeem that filthy winter. That now I would be a bargain of no price and just a slave’s linsey of no value and now the whippoorwill would never sound for me again nor would Thomas McNulty show me his motherly kindness nor John Cole his fatherly concern. That they might want then to deposit me on the road as a Confederate dollar of no worth to be picked up by any wanderer, that I was to be a thing discarded and no one ever sent for my retrieval. That in breaking the tiny door into myself [my attacker] had left the house of myself ever open to the winds, to the howls of the storms, and the ransack of any passing marauder. Winona’s realisation that the defeated rebels, for all their hatred of blacks and Indians, shared some of the same sense of sorrow and defeat, and feel deeply alienated from the new rules of the world, despite all their apparent advantage and privilege: I could sense in all they said the danger, the sorrow. As a child of sorrow I could hear the under-songs in what they spoke of. The fall of things that had been precious, the rise of trouble and the taking away of joys. It was one of those strange times when I understood the whiteman better. That in his own sphere of suffering he was not unlike myself, though he might scream at me for saying so. … In Tennessee, said the colonel, there were thousands of aggrieved souls like Zach Petrie. Men so disgruntled by the war they couldn’t breathe the air of peace, it choked them. And were such that no new times could please them, no matter how close they came to what they had fought for. Overall I think your views on this book are likely to match closely your views on “Days Without End” – and my rating is the same as for that book.My thanks to Faber and Faber for an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    Returning to the world of Days Without End, this features Thomas McNulty and John Cole but the voice and story is that of a young Native American woman orphaned in the brutal Indian Wars and adopted in a makeshift family. Again Barry gives us a story of violence tempered by compassion, of prejudice and inequality offset by love and generosity of spirit. The voice isn't always convincing but this is such a humane tale, as (or more?) relevant for our own toxic times as it is an evocation of Returning to the world of Days Without End, this features Thomas McNulty and John Cole but the voice and story is that of a young Native American woman orphaned in the brutal Indian Wars and adopted in a makeshift family. Again Barry gives us a story of violence tempered by compassion, of prejudice and inequality offset by love and generosity of spirit. The voice isn't always convincing but this is such a humane tale, as (or more?) relevant for our own toxic times as it is an evocation of America's past, that I could forgive the stylisation. A big-hearted book. 3.5 stars as it's sometimes too stylized to be completely believable.ARC via NetGalley
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  • Mymymble
    January 1, 1970
    Shall I or shan't I? £10.04! I'm sure Barry and his publisher fixed the price some time ago before lockdown and profiteering in the times of the coronavirus. But I don't know. Things are getting expensive and half my family's been laid off.I mean was £12.49 but it was 900+ pages long and I'd been longing for it for years. And Mantel had been slaving over it for years... And reading it was days of bliss.This is less than a third of the length and I'm reassessing whether I really did love Shall I or shan't I? £10.04! I'm sure Barry and his publisher fixed the price some time ago before lockdown and profiteering in the times of the coronavirus. But I don't know. Things are getting expensive and half my family's been laid off.I mean was £12.49 but it was 900+ pages long and I'd been longing for it for years. And Mantel had been slaving over it for years... And reading it was days of bliss.This is less than a third of the length and I'm reassessing whether I really did love THAT much. £10.04 much.
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  • Bridget
    January 1, 1970
    I was so thrilled to be approved for this book by Netgalley, I completely loved Days Without End and was very excited to read the follow up, especially as it was Winona's story. Winona was saved from certain death by the wonderful Thomas McNulty and John Cole. They have raised her as their own at a time when two men raising a child, especially a native American child, is totally extraordinary. John and Thomas love each other but their love for Winona and their dedication to her is beautiful. I was so thrilled to be approved for this book by Netgalley, I completely loved Days Without End and was very excited to read the follow up, especially as it was Winona's story. Winona was saved from certain death by the wonderful Thomas McNulty and John Cole. They have raised her as their own at a time when two men raising a child, especially a native American child, is totally extraordinary. John and Thomas love each other but their love for Winona and their dedication to her is beautiful. Together with several other wonderful characters, they live on Lige Magan's very poor farm, scratching out a living and working so hard to make ends meet and feed themselves. Eventually Winona acquires a job, working for the lawyer in town, her preference is to wear men's clothing and not everyone realises she is a young woman. There are dangers everywhere including rampaging drunks, night riders who terrorise people and men who cannot be trusted anywhere near a young girl. She is courted by a local young man who swears his love for her and who wants to marry her. Her innocence and lack of world experience give her mean that she is naive but suspicious and frightened. Winona is attacked, brutally. Raped and beaten, but has no idea who did it. Her confidence is shattered, her protectors are trapped by doing something about this terrible thing, they can't put themselves in danger, her in more danger and put the livelihood of Lige Mangan and the others in jeopardy. Circumstances continue to be dire, with lightness being the love that ties this unusual family together with their workmates and the unlikely support of the lawyer. The unrelenting sadness and misery of their situation is dire. The hard thing in this book is they way that Winona thinks and speaks, I didn't love the unusual way she speaks and couldn't really see the point of that.While I didn't love this book as much as I loved Years Without End, it moved me deeply, it made me cry and reminded me again why I love Sebastian Barry's work so much.Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access.
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  • Rob Twinem
    January 1, 1970
    Sebastian Barry writes in a certain literary style that you will either warm to or, as in my case, you will find his prose difficult to appreciate. The story is set against the American civil was and concerns a young Lacota Indian girl called Winona Cole who is adopted by William MrNulty and John cole. Through her eyes we are witness to persecution and hatred displayed everyday against a diminishing indigenous Lacota tribe. Whilst the story has merit and the events set against a harsh and Sebastian Barry writes in a certain literary style that you will either warm to or, as in my case, you will find his prose difficult to appreciate. The story is set against the American civil was and concerns a young Lacota Indian girl called Winona Cole who is adopted by William MrNulty and John cole. Through her eyes we are witness to persecution and hatred displayed everyday against a diminishing indigenous Lacota tribe. Whilst the story has merit and the events set against a harsh and unforgiving environment makes for difficult and at times challenging reading, it was not a story I particularly enjoyed.
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  • SueLucie
    January 1, 1970
    I dont think it would be necessary to have read Sebastian Barrys earlier novel Days Without End to enjoy this sequel, but I would have found it frustrating not to have done. Several characters feature in both, particularly Thomas McNulty and John Cole, but to a lesser extent and their background is sketched in here just enough for new readers to understand their context without irritating those already familiar with it. This novel focuses on Winona, a Lakota girl orphaned young and raised by I don’t think it would be necessary to have read Sebastian Barry’s earlier novel ‘Days Without End’ to enjoy this sequel, but I would have found it frustrating not to have done. Several characters feature in both, particularly Thomas McNulty and John Cole, but to a lesser extent and their background is sketched in here just enough for new readers to understand their context without irritating those already familiar with it. This novel focuses on Winona, a Lakota girl orphaned young and raised by McNulty and Cole. Her life in Tennessee of the late 19th century is one of contradictions - on the one hand she has a loving, multi-ethnic family, gets something of an education and is employed by the town’s lawyer, a lovely man of liberal principles who nurtures and protects her as far as he is able, on the other hand she has no status whatsoever in legal terms and remains scarily vulnerable. The war is over but prejudice and pockets of violence persist. With a much narrower focus than his earlier book, this novel is almost entirely personal to Winona and her predicament. What she will do when the bad guys come calling and who she can trust are the two main preoccupations of her story, narrated throughout by Winona herself.I enjoyed Winona’s voice and the atmosphere the author creates of a fledgling union of states, struggling to evolve in the aftermath of civil war. His writing never fails to please. Some of the plot events, though, and particularly the rushed and barely credible ending disappointed.With thanks to Faber & Faber via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.
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  • Olga Miret
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Faber and Faber and to NetGalley for offering me an ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.I read Barrys Days Without End, loved it and couldnt resist when I saw his next novel was available. This story follows on from the previous one, and it shares quite a few characteristics with that one. Although Ive read some reviews by people who hadnt read the previous novel and said that they felt this one could be read on its own, I wouldnt dare to comment on that. Personally, Thanks to Faber and Faber and to NetGalley for offering me an ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.I read Barry’s Days Without End, loved it and couldn’t resist when I saw his next novel was available. This story follows on from the previous one, and it shares quite a few characteristics with that one. Although I’ve read some reviews by people who hadn’t read the previous novel and said that they felt this one could be read on its own, I wouldn’t dare to comment on that. Personally, because the story follows closely on from Days Without End, and it refers to many of the characters we had got to know there, I’d recommend readers thinking about taking up this series to start by reading the previous novel.This story, like Barry’s previous book, is a historical novel, in this case set in Tennessee shortly after the American Civil War. In the previous novel we followed two characters, Thomas McNulty (the first person narrator) and John Cole, through their adventures as actors, Indian hunters and soldiers, and learned that they had adopted a young Lakota girl, Ojinjintka, renamed Winona; in this second book we hear the story from Winona’s point of view. The couple of men have settled down now, and the fact that this is not only a woman’s story, but the story of a Native-American woman, means that her ambit of action is much more restricted and despite her efforts to take control of her own life, she’s often at the mercy of laws and circumstances that consider her less than a human being. Although she is loved by her adoptive parents and the rest of the extended family she lives with, that is not a general state of affairs, and if life had treated her badly as a child, she also suffers a major traumatic event here, as a young woman. No matter that she is educated (she keeps the books for a lawyer in town), strong-willed, and determined. She is either invisible (just an Indian girl) or a creature to be abused, vilified, and made to take the blame for other’s crimes. That does not mean what happens to her does not reflect the events in the larger society (we do hear about racism, about lynching, about corruption of the law, about Southern resistance…), but we get to see them from an “other” point of view, and it creates a sense of estrangement, which I suspect is intended by the author. While Thomas and John were outsiders themselves and always lived in the fringes of society, Winona’s position is more precarious still.I have mentioned some of the themes of the novel, and others, like family relationships, race, gender, identity (Winona remembers a lot about her life as a Lakota, and the memories of her mother in particular bring her much comfort and strength), and the lot of women also play an important part in the novel. There is also something of a mystery running through it, as there are a couple of crimes committed early on (one a severe beating of an ex-slave living with Winona’s family in the farm, and the other one her assault) and Winona spends much of the novel trying to clarify what happened and to get justice, one way or another, as the authorities are not going to intervene because neither of them are important enough. Although she turns into something of an amateur detective, this is no cozy mystery or a light adventure novel, and there are plenty of harrowing moments in it, so I wouldn’t recommend it to people who are looking for cheerful entertainment.The characters are as fascinating as those from the previous novel, although we get to see them from a totally different point of view. It Thomas was the guiding consciousness of Days Without End, Winona’s voice (in the first person) narrates this fragment of the story. We get to see things from her perspective, and that also offers us an opportunity to reevaluate our opinion of the characters we already knew. We also meet some new characters, but because of Winona’s status (or lack of it), we are put in a difficult position, always feeling suspicious and expecting the worst from those we meet, because she has no rights, both because she is a woman and because she is an Indian woman. Her voice takes some time to get used to. She has been educated, but a bit like happened with Thomas in the previous novel, her speech and thoughts are a mixture of vernacular expressions and lyrical images. She is sometimes confused and can’t make sense of what is happening around her, and at others can show a great deal of insight. When she reports the dialogue and words of others —although she is quite an astute observer of others’ behaviour —, all the people she mentions talk pretty much the same, no matter how educated they are, and farm-hands and judges cannot be told apart from the way they speak. Although I felt for Winona at an intellectual level and was horrified by the things she had to go through, perhaps because of the estrangement I mentioned and of the style of the narrative, I didn’t find it as easy to connect at an emotional level. I liked her and I loved her insights and some of her comments, but I didn’t feel as close to her as I did to Thomas in the first book.The writing is beautiful and poetic at times, while at others it can be difficult to understand due to the mental state of the character and to her peculiar style. It reminded me of the stream-of-consciousness narration typical of modernist writers in the early years of the XX century. Winona’s thoughts jump from one subject to the next, and although the story is told in chronological order, memories of her time with the Lakotas and flashbacks from her trauma keep interfering in the narrative. This is not a particularly fast novel or a page turner in the traditional sense, as it meanders along, with exciting and horrifying scenes intermixed with scenes of domesticity and everyday life. I confess to having to go back and forth at times to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, but it was worth it.I highlighted many parts of the novel, but I’ll share a few samples (note that this is an ARC copy, so there might be some changes in the published version):I wonder what does it mean when another people judge you to be worth so little you were only to be killed? How our pride in everything was crushed so small it disappeared until it was just specks of things floating away on the wind.You can’t be a geyser of tears all your life.‘She got to have some recompense in law,’ said Lige Magan. ‘An Indian ain’t a citizen and the law don’t apply in the same way,’ said the lawyer Briscoe.Only a woman knows how to live I believe because a man is too hasty, too half-cocked, mostly. That half-cocked gun hurts at random. But in my men I found fierce womanliness living. What a forturne. What a great heap of proper riches.I’ve seen some reviews who felt the ending was disappointing or unbelievable. I’d have to agree that there is something of the Deus ex machina about the ending, but overall I liked where the story ended and would like to know what happens next to Winona, to Peg (one of my favourite new characters), and to the rest of the characters. Would I recommend the novel? It is a fascinating book, and one lovers of Barry will enjoy. I advise anybody interested in this historical period and eager to read this author’s work to start with the previous novel, as I found the style of this one more challenging and more difficult to follow, and having an understanding of the background of the characters helps put it into perspective. As I usually do, I’d recommend readers to check a sample of the novel before deciding to purchase it, but give it a good chance, as it does take some time to get used to the style, and the story is well-worth reading and persevering with. I will definitely be looking forward to the next novel.
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  • Teleseparatist
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from NetGalley for review.This is in some ways a historical crime story, centred around the rape of John and Thomas's adopted daughter, a young Lakota girl re-named Winona. The novel is, for the most part, beautiful and kind, but the subject matter is grim and there are moments that struck a false note for me. The theme of the novel is decency and how regardless of circumstances, some see the world with love, and some with hate, and it is done well, but I still had mixed I received an ARC from NetGalley for review.This is in some ways a historical crime story, centred around the rape of John and Thomas's adopted daughter, a young Lakota girl re-named Winona. The novel is, for the most part, beautiful and kind, but the subject matter is grim and there are moments that struck a false note for me. The theme of the novel is decency and how regardless of circumstances, some see the world with love, and some with hate, and it is done well, but I still had mixed feelings about the plot choices in the end. Lovely queer families, but a subject matter and voice that Barry wasn't perhaps the best writer to address/speak.
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  • Jillian Doherty
    January 1, 1970
    Another vibrant example that Sebastian Barry can write anything.Harrowing and redemptive; Winona shows us how a timeless figure can rise from the ashes. With her unconventional motley crew of an adopted family, she perseveres. But not in a conscious way, with humility and coming-of-age enlightenment, she finds her way. A heart wrenching and beautiful story for fans of Where the Crawdad Sing, and Whiskey When Were Dry!Galley borrowed from the publisher. Another vibrant example that Sebastian Barry can write anything.Harrowing and redemptive; Winona shows us how a timeless figure can rise from the ashes. With her unconventional motley crew of an adopted family, she perseveres. But not in a conscious way, with humility and coming-of-age enlightenment, she finds her way. A heart wrenching and beautiful story for fans of Where the Crawdad Sing, and Whiskey When We’re Dry!Galley borrowed from the publisher.
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  • Sid Nuncius
    January 1, 1970
    This is outstandingly good. I thought Days Without End was brilliant; A Thousand Moons is even better, I think.Told in the first person by Winona, the Lakota Native American girl we met in Days Without End, it is the story of the immediately post-Civil War events in West Tennessee where they have settled on Lige Magans farm. Barry conjures the atmosphere of the time as pre-war attitudes to race and slavery begin to re-assert themselves and continues to create fine, believable characters and an This is outstandingly good. I thought Days Without End was brilliant; A Thousand Moons is even better, I think.Told in the first person by Winona, the Lakota Native American girl we met in Days Without End, it is the story of the immediately post-Civil War events in West Tennessee where they have settled on Lige Magan’s farm. Barry conjures the atmosphere of the time as pre-war attitudes to race and slavery begin to re-assert themselves and continues to create fine, believable characters and an enthralling story.What makes this really special, though, is Winona’s narrative voice. It is a wonderful mix of the lyrical and poetic which she has gained from her education and reading with the slightly rough, idiosyncratic dialect of Tennessee at that time. I found it riveting, both in what she says and how she says it.This is definitely one of my books of the year so far and one of the best things I have read for some considerable time. Very warmly recommended.(My thanks to Faber & Faber for an ARC via NetGalley.)
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  • Sarah-Hope
    January 1, 1970
    A Thousand Moons is a remarkable readone of those books that is its own creature, with characters one might not have imagined before, but who seem completely true and real. The book is set in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. The Narrator, Winona, is an Indian girl, roughly eighteen years old who has been raised by a gay male couple. Life is hard, as you might imagine, for this unusual group, but their love for one another is fierce and courageous. I don't want to say much about the plot A Thousand Moons is a remarkable read—one of those books that is its own creature, with characters one might not have imagined before, but who seem completely true and real. The book is set in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. The Narrator, Winona, is an Indian girl, roughly eighteen years old who has been raised by a gay male couple. Life is hard, as you might imagine, for this unusual group, but their love for one another is fierce and courageous. I don't want to say much about the plot—I think it's a book best entered with a clean slate, so to speak. I do, however, want to encourage people to read this title. It will move you, surprise you, and bring you into a historical moment unlike any you've encountered in school or in other texts about the Civil War.I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via EdelweissPlus/NetGalley. The opinions are my own.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @20%. The sequel to Sebastian Barry's Days Without End, A Thousand Moons is set in West Tennessee shortly after the American Civil War and narrated by Winona, the Native American girl adopted by Thomas and John during the course of the last novel. The novel begins with Winona being brutally attacked and raped, and she, alongside her various protectors, set out to see who is involved. Barry can absolutely write, but I didn't find Winona's voice nearly as engaging or convincing as Thomas's in DNF @20%. The sequel to Sebastian Barry's Days Without End, A Thousand Moons is set in West Tennessee shortly after the American Civil War and narrated by Winona, the Native American girl adopted by Thomas and John during the course of the last novel. The novel begins with Winona being brutally attacked and raped, and she, alongside her various protectors, set out to see who is involved. Barry can absolutely write, but I didn't find Winona's voice nearly as engaging or convincing as Thomas's in Days Without End, and I also kept feeling that I'd read this all somewhere before. I feel like I didn't give this novel much of a shot, but also that now isn't the time to press on with books that aren't pulling you in. In recognition of this, I have not rated it.I received a free proof copy of this novel from the publisher for review.
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  • Lauren Olmeda
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a gorgeous follow-up to Days Without End. I love Sebastian Barrys writing - he isnt even American and he nails our southern accent in writing so well. This book is a gorgeous follow-up to Days Without End. I love Sebastian Barry’s writing - he isn’t even American and he nails our southern accent in writing so well.
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  • Dylan
    January 1, 1970
    Firstly - It is not necessary to read Days Without End prior to reading A Thousand Moons. Yes, a familiarity with Days Without End will elevate the experience of reading A Thousand Moons because you will already be familiar with these characters and have knowledge of their shared past (which is oft-referenced throughout A Thousand Moons).A Thousand Moons is a very different story from Days Without End. Here, Barry does not address war but instead focuses on its aftermath - specifically with Firstly - It is not necessary to read Days Without End prior to reading A Thousand Moons. Yes, a familiarity with Days Without End will elevate the experience of reading A Thousand Moons because you will already be familiar with these characters and have knowledge of their shared past (which is oft-referenced throughout A Thousand Moons).A Thousand Moons is a very different story from Days Without End. Here, Barry does not address war but instead focuses on its aftermath - specifically with respect to the civil war. That is, the narrative Barry crafts explores the dynamic between oppressed peoples and their oppressors. As in Days Without End, Barry carefully explores these sensitive topics with nuance. The relationships Barry writes are complex and challenging and yet illuminating. A Thousand Moons is told from the perspective of Winona, the adopted daughter of Thomas McNulty and John Cole. Winona faces many challenges throughout the novel, many of which are horrific and painful - and yet Barry writes with a sense of hope that directly challenges the reader's response to the events that take place herein.Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Keith
    January 1, 1970
    In A Thousand Moons, Sebastian Barry continues the saga of Thomas McNulty, John Cole, and Winona Cole, who collectively constitute one of the most unlikely family units in literature. Set in the 1870s about a decade after the events described in the authors magnificent Days Without End, this book is told from point of view of Winona, a girl from the Lakota tribe who John and Thomas, themselves an unlikely married couple, adopted after her relatives were killed in a military raid. The main story In A Thousand Moons, Sebastian Barry continues the saga of Thomas McNulty, John Cole, and Winona Cole, who collectively constitute one of the most unlikely family units in literature. Set in the 1870s about a decade after the events described in the author’s magnificent Days Without End, this book is told from point of view of Winona, a girl from the Lakota tribe who John and Thomas, themselves an unlikely married couple, adopted after her relatives were killed in a military raid. The main story combines a tender coming-of-age tale with three interrelated mysteries—finding out who committed the brutal assaults on two of the main characters, as well as the eventual murder of a third—and how these events impact Winona’s life as she is maturing through her teenage years into adulthood.I was particularly eager to read this novel because Days Without End was one of the best and most interesting stories I have come across in a long time. Told from Thomas’ perspective in language that was poetic and almost breathtakingly beautiful, that work tells an intimate, engaging, and harrowing tale that is cinematic in its sweep. Unfortunately, A Thousand Moons is not really any of those things and, as a consequence, suffers from the comparison. The main problem is that while Thomas’ narration was so perfectly wrought in that earlier book, the author never really gets Winona’s voice quite right here, vacillating as it does from the broken and stilted sentences of someone coming late to a language to emitting philosophical expressions you might expect from a well-educated person twice her age.This is also an uneven and much less ambitious story that feels quite claustrophobic at times. Set entirely in the farming community around the small town of Paris, Tennessee, most of the action in the novel is spent describing Winona’s day-to-day routine as she works on the family farm, keeps the books for a local attorney, and tries to solve the central mysteries in her spare time. Much of what transpires in the story was simply not that interesting and the resolution to the crimes comes quite late in the book and is not much of a surprise. (In fact, only two of the three mysteries are concluded definitively; the resolution to the third is referred to in a very oblique manner.) Finally, the character of Peg, a Chickasaw Indian girl who becomes Winona’s friend and companion, is drawn far too sketchily given her importance to the tale.So, while A Thousand Moons is a good book that merits attention, it falls short of the high standard that its talented author has set for himself. It may be possible to treat this as a standalone work, but the truth is that it contains so many references to events that occurred in Days Without End that the story might make less sense if read in isolation. I certainly enjoyed becoming immersed again in the lives of these beloved characters, but this was not a wholly satisfying reading experience for me.
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  • Rod MacLeod
    January 1, 1970
    I loved it. Following on from Days without end Winona Coles story is enthralling. Beautiful writing, simply a great tale I loved it. Following on from Days without end Winona Cole’s story is enthralling. Beautiful writing, simply a great tale
  • Sarah Bannan
    January 1, 1970
    This is an extraordinary novel by one of Ireland's finest novelists. A follow up to the magnificent Days Without End, A Thousand Moons gives us the beautiful and resonant voice of Winona, a native American who has suffered immensely. With Sebastian Barry's unique power of empathy and imagination, the reader enters Winona's world and mind fully; he gives her a voice which is at once authentic and lyrical. I began highlighting sentences that I thought were particularly beautiful and then realised This is an extraordinary novel by one of Ireland's finest novelists. A follow up to the magnificent Days Without End, A Thousand Moons gives us the beautiful and resonant voice of Winona, a native American who has suffered immensely. With Sebastian Barry's unique power of empathy and imagination, the reader enters Winona's world and mind fully; he gives her a voice which is at once authentic and lyrical. I began highlighting sentences that I thought were particularly beautiful and then realised I was highlighting the entire book. It is distilled in its wisdom, but also compulsively readable. I began and then could not put it down. Once again, Sebastian Barry has given voice to a character who is marginalised. He brings humanity and grace wherever he casts his gaze.
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  • Gillik
    January 1, 1970
    [review of ARC won as Goodreads giveaway]"Even when you come out of bloodshed and disaster in the end you have got to learn to live."Sebastian Barry's Days Without End was one of my top reads when it came out a couple years ago. . .the beauty of the writing, the uniqueness of the voice and the way the narrative embraces the simple, all-encompassing love between John Cole and Thomas McNulty. So I was delighted to find out there would be a sequel but also a little nervous. Because while Days was [review of ARC won as Goodreads giveaway]"Even when you come out of bloodshed and disaster in the end you have got to learn to live."Sebastian Barry's Days Without End was one of my top reads when it came out a couple years ago. . .the beauty of the writing, the uniqueness of the voice and the way the narrative embraces the simple, all-encompassing love between John Cole and Thomas McNulty. So I was delighted to find out there would be a sequel but also a little nervous. Because while Days was one of my favorite books it was also a book I had misgivings about that were strong enough to keep it off my favorites list. As delightful as John and Thomas were, as heartfelt as their relationship was, I was never able to forget the whats and wheres of them - neither was evil-hearted but both took part in the genocide of Native Americans. They adopted and loved Winona but they were also responsible for the death of her family and her people, and the narrative brushed past that with more forgiveness than I was comfortable with. They suffered along the way, sure, but they were still sympathetic Good Guys as far as the book was concerned. And while I enjoyed spending time with them, I wasn't sure I agreed.My trepidation was increased by news of the sequel's plot - giving Winona a voice, which would be necessary but also potentially a disaster if done poorly. (The author, as far as I'm aware, isn't Lakota.) I also wasn't thrilled that the plot hinges on Winona's rape - did she really need that? has the character not suffered enough? do male authors ever have any other ideas for adding strife or plot drama to their female characters? It's not that it's not realistic or historically accurate, it's that it's been done so terribly so many times before and I was on edge that it would be done terribly again here.Luckily for all my fretting, A Thousand Moons is a delight.I'm not the expert on whether Winona's voice rang true but it felt true to me. She takes agency throughout the novel as the well-meaning men in her life try and mostly fail to get her justice. And there are a lot of well-meaning characters in this novel (there are also some serious scumbags). But telling the tale from Winona's pov means that those characters aren't let off the hook the way they were before. Winona knows what she's suffered and by whom. She points out the same people who love her so dearly also killed the ones she loved. And the novel's strength is that it describes that contradiction without trying to forgive it away. John and Thomas love their adopted daughter, would die or kill for her, but also took part in genocide against her people. Who can explain it? The narrative allows Winona the space to mull the incongruity without trying to force pat answers on the reader."We were nothing to them," Winona says of her family's killers. "I think now of the great value we put on what we were and I wonder what does it mean when another people judge you to be worth so little you were only to be killed? How our pride in everything was crushed so small it disappeared. . . What does that do to your heart, what did it do to mine? Nothing, nothing, nothing, we were nothing.". . .But maybe that's why Thomas McNulty and John Cole loved me, because I was the child of nothing."The novel also gives Winona a delightful love interest, and not the one I was afraid it might be leaning toward at first. Barry remains a master of describing love that is as uncomplicated as it is ultimate. "She in herself seemed to me to be a whole nation. Her beauty was a legion crowd. . . The warmth of her body now and then tipping against me so welcome I thought she might tear my heart. Tear it and mend it in the one breath."John and Thomas' relationship, although not the focus here, is also given some truly beautiful lines, and the touching post-prison reunion we didn't get to see last time. "Thomas McNulty and John Cole lived and thought as one. If one was to die there would be no more living then." "Where John Cole abided, there was to be found Thomas with his simple heart. Their love was the first commandment of my world - Thou shalt hope to love like them." And all that ties into the book's purpose - to say that even in the ugliest times (and post-Civil War Tennessee sounds pretty damn ugly) there is beauty and love and hope almost despite itself. There is joy and there is grief, knitted together on the same page - the love of that reunion and the hate of the attack on Winona, brought together on one page with, "I guess the world can be sad enough." There is the lawyer Briscoe, who believes mightily in the law as the only way to keep Tennessee free - an idealism that Winona respects but can't trust in, for after all the law doesn't even apply to her. Indians weren't seen as humans, much less citizens, and there wasn't any justice for freed-slave Tennyson besides what she went out to fetch for him herself (the symbolism of justice as finding his stolen gun isn't lost). There is also the "simple rage" of Thomas: "It happened seldom but when it did it was like the anger of righteous angels. He knew the absolute menace of the world. He knew it was a place so knotted with evil that good could only hope to unknot a tiny few threads of it. But he was a man that believed in the great freeing possibility of the untoward good outcome of matters. He would give his life for that."The plot meanders and as a result the ending feels rushed and unbelievable. Not all the characters were as well-formed as Winona; Aurelius Littlefair's threat was built up but never quite broke, and the mini-murder mystery with new villains came too late. I wish we'd heard more from Rosalee and Peg. I didn't have quite the emotional delight that I had with the first book. But still, I think this novel's rage mixed with love is so fitting for the times we're in, so needed. And Winona is so needed, too.
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    I was embarrassingly far into this book when it finally dawned on me why everyone sounded fsmiliar... so up to that point it was a good stand alone book.Definitely all the better when I realised.I enjoyed the continuing story,and I hope there's more to come.The star of the show for me was Peg.Once again Barry gives these misfit characters,all of whom the law would have something against, a home and a family.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Sebastian Barrys A Thousand Moons follows on from his stunning Days Without End and, as both titles suggest, he continues to suggest that there is no end either to mankinds capacity for love or for hate. Set in Tennessee during the turbulent 1870s, Barry reminds us of the importance of family not in the blood sense here - and in the strength in belonging. At Lige Magans farm, the family is certainly unusual, comprising the gay ex-military couple Thomas McNulty and John Cole, their adopted Sebastian Barry’s ‘A Thousand Moons’ follows on from his stunning ‘Days Without End’ and, as both titles suggest, he continues to suggest that there is no end either to mankind’s capacity for love or for hate. Set in Tennessee during the turbulent 1870s, Barry reminds us of the importance of family – not in the blood sense here - and in the strength in belonging. At Lige Magan’s farm, the family is certainly unusual, comprising the gay ex-military couple Thomas McNulty and John Cole, their ‘adopted’ daughter Winona and freed slaves Tennyson and Rosalee Bouguereau.Told from Winona’s viewpoint, Barry explores just how tough it is to be a young woman whom few respect. At the beginning of the tale, Winona is engaged to be married to Jas Jonski, a local boy not much liked by the rest of the family. All this changes abruptly when she returns to the farmhouse one evening, raped and almost catatonic. After that, she wants no more to do with her fiancé, even though she doesn’t believe that he was her attacker. However, he finds it difficult to accept her rejection – after all, isn’t he a white boy conferring a great honour on a mere Indian girl?Over the course of the novel, Winona learns that ‘you have to meet the great force of the flood, or the tornado, or the great storm, with an equal great force.’ She takes courage from memories of her mother, the examples of her loving parents, Thomas and John, and the energy of her new friend Peg as she stands up to the injustices strewn in her path.A novel that declares ‘That there was no place to stand on the earth that was not perilous was just the news of every moment.’ might be described as a gloomy read. However, ‘A Thousand Moons’ is inspiring and uplifting, not least because in unimaginably grim times for a Lakota girl, Winona takes courage from the unwavering love of those who have given her a home. As ever, Barry’s style of writing captures the character of the tough, rural community, its love of the natural world and its tenacious spirit. A fitting sequel to ‘Days Without End’, this novel celebrates women’s courage, determination and devotion.My thanks to NetGalley and Faber & Faber for a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review.
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  • Elaine Aldred
    January 1, 1970
    A Thousand Moons is the sequel to Days Without End, which really should be read first, not just for completeness but to revel in its fierce, breathtaking prose.A Thousand Moons follows the fortunes of Winona, the Lakota girl orphaned as a result of Thomas McNulty and John Coles actions while soldiers. The narrative of the book is related by her. All of them are leading a settled life on a farm the men are working on, with Winona now well educated and beginning to make her way in the world. Until A Thousand Moons is the sequel to Days Without End, which really should be read first, not just for completeness but to revel in its fierce, breathtaking prose.A Thousand Moons follows the fortunes of Winona, the Lakota girl orphaned as a result of Thomas McNulty and John Cole’s actions while soldiers. The narrative of the book is related by her. All of them are leading a settled life on a farm the men are working on, with Winona now well educated and beginning to make her way in the world. Until a traumatic event threatens to destabilise Winona’s life once again.Sebastian Barry uses a no frills, matter of fact approach to his storytelling, creating a very intimate experience for the reader. There is always a danger of a writer poorly appropriating a culture they are not a part of, particularly when it is set in a historical context and related in a way the writer assumes the story would have been told. However, Winona’s tone and plain language completely captures her essence, drawing the reader right into her very soul, which is troubled but pure.Most telling is the trauma Winona undergoes in this relation of her life. Rather than drag this out through a detailed and harrowing account, Barry chooses a much more effective way of bringing home the horror of her experience and the devastating effect to her psyche. He does this through her reactions and actions, as well as exploring the love and acts of compassion exuded by those around Winona, who nurture and care for her.This method of allowing the reader to fill in the gaps and concentrate on what is there in its place, provides the narrative with a lightness of touch and delicately balanced storytelling. Along with and incredible lyrical style, Barry’s stories make for an immersive and affective type of reading experience and is why the reader will not worry one bit if the plot on occasions might appear a little contrived, because this is a vast emotional canvas told on an intimate scale.I have the audiobook of Days Without End, just to be able to sit back with another way of experiencing Barry’s gorgeous prose and relish the words swirling around me. There is no doubt I will do the same with A Thousand Moons when it becomes available. They are two books of which I will never tire, finding that each reading brings something new to the feast of words.A Thousand Moons was courtesy of Faber and Faber Limited, via NetGalley.
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  • Peter Doherty
    January 1, 1970
    Its been three years since I read and reviewed Days Without End and in solitary moments - and my job gives me oh so many- I have thought much about this book. Now I have finished the sequel, A Thousand Moons, and once again Sebastian Barry has blown me away. It is an American elegy for an indigenous culture and its peoples all but destroyed; for a way of life based on community that took succour from the natural world; for a joy and belief in themselves, their families and friends and their way It’s been three years since I read and reviewed Days Without End and in solitary moments - and my job gives me oh so many- I have thought much about this book. Now I have finished the sequel, A Thousand Moons, and once again Sebastian Barry has blown me away. It is an American elegy for an indigenous culture and it’s peoples all but destroyed; for a way of life based on community that took succour from the natural world; for a joy and belief in themselves, their families and friends and their way of life. It is an indictment of the treatment they received from people who mostly feared and hated them. The story concerns a young Lacota girl, Ojinjintka, who becomes ‘civilised’ by her saviours who adopt her and change her name to Winona but she never relinquishes her heritage or her memories of her brief life on the plains. She is clever yet always cautious. She fiercely loves those who keep her safe in a violent and brutal post Civil war world in backwoods Tennessee where Indians are seen as less than human. Her dignity and bravery are tested to the maximum as she endures so much for a young girl in any era. That this is a story surrounding the formation of modern America is devastating and is brought to life in a simple and meticulous prose. It serves to remind us all that integrity and bravery are often contained in the weakest and most vulnerable of vessels. For me, however, the most important aspect of this novel is that a voice is given to the people who suffered the most from not just Manifest Destiny but also from the racist and misogynistic beliefs of America’s imported cultural belief systems.
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  • Annette Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    A strong successor to the sublime Days Without End , A Thousand Moons takes up from where that book finishes, on the farm in Tennessee where Winona, a young Lakota Indian is living with her somewhat unusual adoptive family, Thomas McNulty and John Cole on the Magan farm with it's owner Liege, and two freed slaves. While it is not essential to have read Days Without End to enjoy this book , it will certainly add an extra layer to the enjoyment, and it is in itself a wonderful book. This book A strong successor to the sublime Days Without End , A Thousand Moons takes up from where that book finishes, on the farm in Tennessee where Winona, a young Lakota Indian is living with her somewhat unusual adoptive family, Thomas McNulty and John Cole on the Magan farm with it's owner Liege, and two freed slaves. While it is not essential to have read Days Without End to enjoy this book , it will certainly add an extra layer to the enjoyment, and it is in itself a wonderful book. This book focuses on Winona and her story, and it was interesting to see things from her perspective, especially what she remembered from her time with her tribe before they were massacred , which was much more than was suggested in the previous book which was told from the perspective of Thomas. In fact one of the most interesting and skilfully handled aspects of the book was the shift in narrator which gave the reader a new perspective on what could have seemed too familiar. Life in Tennessee after the Civil War is not easy for anyone , the divided loyalties of the state still flares up into tension from time to time, and being a person of colour carries an extra risk, one that Winona is only too aware of. As an Indian she is regarded as less than human, someone who can be attacked or beaten with little fear of legal consequences, so when she returns home one night beaten and bloody , her adoptive fathers want to seek out the culprit and render some frontier justice of their own. The most likely culprit is a young store clerk who came courting her but Winona says she cannot remember what happened and just wants to forget it. Ultimately in order to move forward and enjoy the comfort and happiness she finds in a most unlikely source, she will have to confront the issues from her past. Once again Barry's beautiful lyrical prose is a highlight, at times it is almost poetic. Once the reader gets used to Winona's cadences and speech patterns it becomes smooth,but early on the first person narration felt a little jarring and cumbersome. Getting a different perspective on familiar characters is always interesting, and once again we see that people are rarely good or evil, they often live in the shades of grey in between. I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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