The Temporary Gentleman Pdf Summary
A stunning return from the prize-winning and best-selling author of The Secret Scripture
Jack McNulty is a ‘temporary gentleman’, an Irishman whose commission in the British army in the Second World War was never permanent. In 1957, sitting in his lodgings in Accra, he urgently sets out to write his story. He feels he cannot take one step further, or even hardly a breath, without looking back at all that has befallen him.
He is an ordinary man, both petty and heroic, but he has seen extraordinary things. He has worked and wandered around the world – as a soldier, an engineer, a UN observer – trying to follow his childhood ambition to better himself. And he has had a strange and tumultuous marriage. Mai Kirwan was a great beauty of Sligo in the 1920s, a vivid mind, but an elusive and mysterious figure too. Jack married her, and shared his life with her, but in time she slipped from his grasp.
A heart-breaking portrait of one man’s life – of his demons and his lost love – The Temporary Gentleman is, ultimately, a novel about Jack’s last bid for freedom, from the savage realities of the past and from himself.
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The Temporary Gentleman Review
4.0 out of 5 stars but luckily it can be read as a stand alone novel and I enjoyed it a lot
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 6, 2018
This is the last installment in a series, and I didn’t know, but luckily it can be read as a stand alone novel and I enjoyed it a lot, with the only problem that I want now read all the missing volumes. Jack is a petty character but he grow on me, much more than May, than in the end I didn’t love at all even if they are both guilty of making their both lives a mess, IMHO. But this can be also read as a partial story of Ireland before and after the WWII or also a little insight into colonialism. Anyway it is a dense book, which was also a page turner, for me anyway.
4.0 out of 5 stars Crushingly sad, but as always, exquisitely written
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 14, 2014
I am a huge fan of Sebastian Barry. I’ve read every one of his books, often more than once, and thus am well acquainted with the McNulty clan of whom he writes. “The Secret Scripture” is a heart-rending book; “On Canaan’s Side” is very nearly perfect. The third of this trilogy, “The Temporary Gentleman,” is, though gorgeously written, my least favorite of the three. It is essentially a tale of a terrible downhill slide for its main characters (based, apparently, on Barry’s own grandparents, which is a very sad thought). It is a tragedy told with dizzying poetics (almost too poetical at times). Jack McNulty is characterized with far more pathos here than his portrayal in “Secret Scripture” (so different, in fact, that it might as well be a different person altogether — I’m still puzzling over that — although maybe it has to do with points of view). Barry manages to make a caring but unseeing man extremely sympathetic. One almost has to read between the lines to understand how he essentially abandoned his family, so delicately has Barry rendered this man’s voice, with all its love, all its blind bafflement. I am a deep, true fan of Barry’s writing and will probably inhale just about anything he puts down on paper. That said, this one was almost too endlessly tragic even for me. But I still recommend it, even if just for the experience of being in the same sphere as an absolute master novelist.
4.0 out of 5 stars How does love equate with ruin?
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 8, 2014
Irish author Sebastian Barry has returned to the Sligo area of Ireland, in his new novel, “The Temporary Gentleman”. Two of his previous novels – which I haven’t read yet – are about the McNulty family. “The Temporary Gentleman” is about Jack McNulty and how his great love for both his wife Mai and for drink has helped to ruin her life and left him a wrecked soul living in Ghana.
Jack McNulty is one of the most interesting fictional characters I’ve come across in a while. Born at the beginning of the 20th century, his life has revolved around Mary (Mai) Kirwan, a physically beautiful but emotionally fragile young woman, who he woos, weds, and then helps destroy. I wondered that if you idolise someone, as Jack did Mai, does that make communicating with that person difficult? Does it make seeing her emotional weaknesses impossible? Do you not want to admit the person you love so dearly has so many flaws: Certainly Jack had very little idea of how fragile Mai was when they courted. Her odd actions on their wedding day would seem to be a precursor of troubled times ahead. Jack was certainly warned by his mother and Mai’s closest friend that Mai was “delicate”. But warning does not always translate into awareness by the person being warned…
Jack McNulty was able to come and go after they were married. After an early stay in west Africa with Jack, Mai returned to Ireland to give birth to their older daughter. Jack stayed in Africa and then served in the British army in several engineering jobs. He was in Sligo for long periods of time, however, and managed to lose Mai’s family home through indebtedness. But was that all Jack’s fault? Certainly he had been dipping into the family kitty to pay his own bills and he had mortgaged the house, but many of the bills he was paying were Mai’s for clothes and jewelry. Had Jack not loved Mai so much, would he have been able to talk to her about cutting down her spending? Would he have, in turn, cut down his own spending? From those early days, Mai’s life was a series of disappointments that she dealt with by retreating into herself and into the bottle.
Part of the story takes place in the 1950’s in Accra, Ghana, where Jack has retreated after Mai’s death. His life there is certainly troubled, but Jack makes an attempt to understand what went wrong and what part he played, both in the death of a marriage and the death of a career. Jack is a man in great pain, and Sebastian Barry is not shy in pointing out why. “The Temporary Gentleman” is a quiet, yet powerful.
5.0 out of 5 stars Master writer
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 3, 2014
Having read all the previous McNulty stories I have to declare myself to be an enormous fan of Sebastian Barry. Whatever he writes, the prose stands out from the page. He is a master of the language he writes in, using words so economically that you actually feel the story. He is an author I read for the writing, not the story precisely because he could take any subject and make the read so enjoyable. I was confused at the start quite where I was supposed to be – Ghana or Ireland. But it did not take me long to accept the style of this book, which revolves around the unbearable breakdown of Mai, Jack’s wife. Words such as heartbreaking, grim, tragic form the basis of this tale which, whilst not terribly cheery – well, not at all cheery, actually – sensitively continues the telling of the McNulty family history that cannot fail but touch anyone.
If you seek “happy ever after”, don’t buy this book. If you want one of the finest reads currently available in the English language, Sebastian Barry is your author.
About Sebastian Barry Author of The Temporary Gentleman Pdf Book
Sebastian Barry Author of The Temporary Gentleman Pdf Book is an Irish playwright, novelist and poet. He is noted for his dense literary writing style and is considered one of Ireland’s finest writers
Barry’s literary career began in poetry before he began writing plays and novels. In recent years his fiction writing has surpassed his work in the theatre in terms of success, having once been considered a playwright who wrote occasional novels.
He has twice been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for his novels A Long Long Way (2005) and The Secret Scripture (2008), the latter of which won the 2008 Costa Book of the Year and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His 2011 novel On Canaan’s Side was long-listed for the Booker. He won the Costa Book of the Year again – in 2017 for Days Without End.
- Publisher : Viking; First Edition (May 1, 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0670025879
- ISBN-13 : 978-0670025879
- Item Weight : 1.01 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.88 x 1.63 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #347,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #5,243 in Family Saga Fiction
- #19,284 in Literary Fiction (Books)
- #24,302 in Historical Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews: 4.2 out of 5 stars 396 ratings
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