In Days without end the story is told by Thomas McNulty, a young Irish boy who comes to the United States after the Irish famine in the 19th century.
He meets John Cole and the two are inseperable afterwards. The cover says they were brothers in arms, but in fact they are lovers and if they had lived in a different time, they would have been married.
John and Thomas first earn a living in a bar, posing as girls for miners who come there to see somebody who at least resembles a woman. Only when they are getting too old and not even the most drunk miner can mistake them for a girl, do they end up in the US army, fighting the Indians.
Thomas and John see the most horrible things and are sometimes even part of it. This does not prevent them from adopting a little Indian girl and this unlikely little family tries to make a life for themselves. Only then there is a new war going on, now against the South, and it seems that old sins have long shadows.
Days without end is a wonderfully written and beautiful book. Thomas' voice is engaging and a joy to read. I love how his love for John Cole is visible in all kinds of ways, but it is never forced or too much. It is just a given fact.
The story takes places against the background of the American history, and you realize how much violence was in that history and how much of what can be seen now has its roots in that history.
Well written, engaging, fun and beautiful. Sebastian Barry is an excellent writer.
Published in 2016