George V. Reilly

Review: A Long Long Way

A Long Long Way
Title: A Long Long Way
Author: Sebastian Barry
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright: 2005
Pages: 304
Keywords: fiction, historical, Ireland, First World War
Reading period: 15–28 January, 2015

Willie Dunne is the innocent 18-year-old son of a senior Dublin policeman, who promptly joins the Royal Dublin Fusiliers when the First World War breaks out, along with thousands of other Irishmen. Their early optimism that the war will be over by Christmas 1914 is soon crushed as both sides get bogged down in the trench warfare of the Western Front. Four long, brutal years of stalemate in the killing fields of Flanders follow, and much of Willie’s regiment die during those years. We see the terror and the horror through Willie’s eyes, the waste of human life, the carnage, and the dis­il­lu­sion­ment of the Irish soldiers. It’s a harrowing book and also a beautiful elegy.

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