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Extended Audio Sample The Secret Scripture, by Sebastian Barry Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (6,016 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sebastian Barry Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Roseanne McNulty, once one of the most beautiful and beguiling girls in County Sligo, Ireland, is now an elderly patient at a mental hospital. As her hundredth year draws near, she decides to record the events of her life but hides the manuscript.

Meanwhile, the hospital is preparing to close and is evaluating which patients can return to society. Dr. Grene, Roseanne’s caretaker, takes a special interest in her case. In his research, he discovers a document written by a local priest that tells a very different story of Roseanne’s life than what she recalls. As doctor and patient attempt to understand each other, they begin to uncover long-buried secrets about themselves.

Set against an Ireland besieged by conflict, The Secret Scripture is an epic story of love, betrayal, and unavoidable tragedy.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Above all it is the surpassing quality of Mr. Barry’s language that gives it its power…It is like a song, with all the pulse of the Irish language, a song sung liltingly and plaintively from the top of Ben Bulben into the airy night.”

    New York Times

  • “Just as [Barry] describes people stopping in the street to look at Roseanne, so I often found myself stopping to look at the sentences he gave her, wanting to pause and copy them down…When I reached the last page, I did feel that I had shared a profound experience.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Luminous and lyrical.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Written in captivating, lyrical prose, Barry’s novel is both a sparkling literary puzzle and a stark cautionary tale of corrupted power.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Wanda McCaddon’s British dialect is no hindrance to her remarkable portrayal of protagonist Roseanne McNulty, as she leaps into character with a stunning, perfect Irish accent that captures every nuance of the West Coast dialect. McCaddon’s performance is among the best of the year. Her believable portrayal is perfectly modulated and nuance-filled, creating a stunning listening experience.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review for audio)

  • “Lucky listeners receive the gift of a great narrator and an amazing writer…Wanda McCaddon’s exquisite reading illuminates the lyrical writing and brings listeners deep into the book’s explosive emotions. Rose’s determined Irish lilt, a priest’s oily tones, Dr. Grene’s fragile neutrality. It’s all here, and it’s terrific.”


  • “Author Barry (A Long Long Way) describes 1930s-40s Ireland in bold, vibrant language, while Wanda McCaddon (What Was She Thinking?) does a spectacular job voicing the characters, playing at turns an aging, haunted woman and a mourning male doctor. Among the year’s best audio adaptations; highly recommended for all collections.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Their stories beautifully unfold like blooming roses, breathtakingly revealing the ties that bind them. The prose is rich, and Barry’s gift for description and especially dialog are considerable.”

    Library Journal

  • “A subtle study of psychology, religion, family and politics in Ireland…Barry beautifully braids together the convoluted threads of his narrative.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Sebastian Barry has created one of the great narrative voices in contemporary fiction in The Secret Scripture. It is a book of great brilliance, powerfully and beautifully written.”

    Chairman, Costa Book of the Year Award Committee

  • “By juxtaposing several views of the life of Roseanne McNulty, Sebastian Barry creates a remarkable portrait, detailed analysis, and an engaging mystery surrounding her life…Narrator Wanda McCaddon alternates between an old woman’s creaky rasps for Roseanne and Dr. Grene’s outwardly professional, sympathetic though insecure voice. McCaddon does a fine job of presenting the nuances of Roseanne’s history through these two characters’ actions, thoughts, and memories. Those who love historical novels will find this audiobook fascinating. Those interested in women’s history, especially in the times and places where women come under the influence of an unscrupulous, moralistic, patriarchal, and blatantly biased society, will come to admire Roseanne’s survival to the century mark. A thought-provoking audiobook for adults and mature teens.”


  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Winner of the Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award
  • Selected for the July 2008 Indie Next List
  • Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction
  • A 2008 Man Booker Prize Finalist
  • Winner of the 2008 Costa Book Award for Best Book of the Year
  • Winner of the Costa Award for Best Novel
  • A 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Lauren | 1/31/2014

    " It was written well, but it took a long time to get into the plot. Once, I got into the plot it was ok. About halfway into the book, I predicted what the big twist would be. If you like somewhat predictable books, then you might like it. If you don't, then stay away. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Vicki | 12/29/2013

    " Clunky, tiresome and predictable - don't agree with all the hype I'm afraid. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Debra | 12/22/2013

    " I was torn between 3 and 4 stars for this book. I think I would have enjoyed the audio version better (my sister loved it - the female narrator speaks in an Irish brogue). Although well-written and engrossing, this was not an easy book to read. It was just so depressing and maddening! Regardless, I'm not sorry I read it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Jak | 12/6/2013

    " I read this as we drove around Ireland and it is a new easy read. However, the ending is a bit obvious. "

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