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Book Review: ‘Days Without End’ by Sebastian Barry

Title: Days without End

Author: Sebastian Barry

Length: 301 pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber


I picked this book up in the Pride section of my local Waterstones. I couldn’t wait to get started on it.

After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, aged barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, fight in the Indian Wars and the Civil War. Having both fled terrible hardships, their days are now vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they see and are complicit in. Then, when a young Indian girl crosses their path, the possibility of lasting happiness seems within reach, if only they can can survive.

We’re holding hands then like lovers who have just met or how we imagine lovers might be in the unknown realm where lovers act as lovers without concealment.’

I once again have read this book, as part of my Pride Month readathon, where I’m only reading books about LGBT+ characters.

I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. It’s the kind that worms it’s way into your soul without you even realising. Where you start reading and suddenly hours have gone by. I couldn’t put it down. This book was violent, yet so full of love. So harsh, yet tender. It was so wide and expansive, yet a personal intimate story. That’s where the magic lies in this book, the juxtapositions.

The writing in this book is sublime. It’s so beautiful. The prose is so lyrical. It was the kind of book where I had to stop after some sentences because they moved me so deeply, made me think, wonder. The descriptions of battle were so vivid, so real, you truly got a sense of war. The way love was described, was so real. It wasn’t dramatic. It had a simplicity to it. A truth. In fact, I think that’s what this book does best. It simply tells the truth.

It was so silent you could swear the moon was listening.’

What maybe surprised me the most about this book was the love story through out. In the chaos of wars, battles, fights and death. Their love story becomes an anchor, something for the characters and the reader to cling onto. Love becomes the overall theme. The love they have for each other, their daughter, their country and the life they build. It was truly wonderful.

There was also the plot that totally grips you. It has you on edge, filled with twist and turns. You spend a lot of time reading, wondering if they’ll survive war. Or if their wonderful love story will come to a tragic end. Then that ending, I won’t spoil it but I didn’t see that coming. I couldn’t turn the page fast enough. It wasn’t the ending I expected to be honest, but it sure made my little heart happy.

I imagined him near me and I imagined I kissed his face. I imagined he said nice things to me and I imagined me saying back I thought he was the best man I ever knowed. I weren’t leaving the world without saying one more time I loved John Cole even if he weren’t there to hear it.’

I seriously can’t recommend this book enough. Do yourself a favour and read it. Historical fiction and a M/M love story. It’s perfection.

Until the next review


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