Vydáno: 2008 (2008)
Roseanne McNulty is an old, old lady. Most of her life has been spent in mental institutions. As the book opens, no-one is really sure how old she is, why she was committed to an institution in the first place and whether she still needs to be in one (if she ever did).
The hospital where she now lives is due to close and psychiatrist William Grene has to decide what should happen to her. Official records are either missing or so scant as to make the old lady seem little more than a ghost.
But Roseanne has not always been a ghost: she was once a little girl; a young woman; a wife; a mother. This flesh and blood Roseanne is preserved in the "secret scripture", a hand written account of her early life kept hidden beneath a loose floorboard in her room. So whilst Dr Grene follows the sparse clues left by what remains of her in the outside world, the reader gets to hear Roseanne's story in her own words.
This is a masterful exploration of the way in which place, time and circumstance can impact on the lives of ordinary people. In this case the place is the West of Ireland and the time is the Irish Civil War and its aftermath. Roseanne's circumstances are that she is female and the daughter of a Protestant father and a mentally unstable mother.
Despite its background, this book is not about the use of institutions as a means of social control in Ireland (or anywhere else) and readers who are expecting something along those lines may be disappointed.