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Publisher's Summary

Even when you come out of bloodshed and disaster in the end you have got to learn to live.

From the Costa Book of the Year-winning author of Days Without End.

Winona is a young Lakota orphan adopted by former soldiers Thomas McNulty and John Cole. Living with Thomas and John on the farm they work in 1870s Tennessee, she is educated and loved, forging a life for herself beyond the violence and dispossession of her past. But the fragile harmony of her unlikely family unit, in the aftermath of the Civil War, is soon threatened by a further traumatic event, one which Winona struggles to confront, let alone understand. Told in Sebastian Barry's rare and masterly prose, A Thousand Moons is a powerful, moving study of one woman's journey, of her determination to write her own future and of the enduring human capacity for love.

©2018 Sebastian Barry (P)2020 W. F. Howes Ltd

Critic Reviews

“Nobody writes like, nobody takes lyrical risks like, nobody pushes the language, and the heart, and the two together, quite like Sebastian Barry does.” (Ali Smith) 

What listeners say about A Thousand Moons

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One long poem

A beautiful lyrical story read with beauty and grace, the characters come to life and take the listener with them.

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  • bookylady
  • 18-01-2021

Beautiful writing.

Sebastian Barry won many plaudits and prizes for the prequel to his novel, Days Without End. So A Thousand Moons had a lot to live up to and I think it did. Essentially, the story continues the tale of Winona, a young Native American girl, who has been adopted by two former soldiers John Cole (also a Native American) and Thomas McNulty, an Irish-born man who occasionally likes to don a dress. The story takes place in post-Civil War Tennessee where the family live and work on a farm alongside former slaves who are their friends. The extended family face prejudice, inequality of treatment and open racism; but Winona is educated and loved and feels safe and protected within her unusual family. So when a local white man comes a-courting Winona, you just know there is going to be trouble. One of the slaves is attacked and injured by local renegades and Winona is sexually assaulted by an unknown assailant. She believes her sweetheart may have been involved but he denies all knowledge of the attack. She struggles to come to terms with her experiences and with the casual indifference of local law enforcement officers. To the local people she is considered to be clever but overall she is just another 'wild savage' and someone with no legal rights. When her former sweetheart is found dead, suspicion falls on Winona and she is tried for murder. On the face of it A Thousand Moons seems to be a quiet, simple story; that is until it explodes into a shock of discovery that catches the reader (at least this one) by surprise. The build up to the revelation of the culprit of the killer and of the perpetrator of the assault on Winona is a masterclass of controlled writing and leaves one with a feeling of 'there were so many clues in the story, why did I not see that?' Excellent, excellent writing and it ensures that this is a pleasing sequel to Days Without End. My only small criticism is the narration. The Tennessee drawl was a bit slow and irritated me at times; but it grew on me. I'm sure other people will find it perfectly fine.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-01-2021

Beautiful writing, with a decent story.

The story of Winona; a native american girl surviving in post-civil war America with her two guardians, Thomas McNulty and John Cole. Along with a few other companions, this small band of misfits have created a wholesome, albeit somewhat irregular, family on their isolated patch of land in the Tennessee countryside. After the strife endured in getting to Tennessee and finally being able to settle down (read the first installment of this saga in Days Without End) they are all ready to settle down and live a normal life. But things take a turn when Winona arrives home one evening bloodied and in pain, with little to no recollection of what had happened to her. From here the tale spirals into unexpected junctures, twisting and turning, in an unpredictable plot. It is not essential to have read Days Without End before reading this, but it can help colour the characters a little better, though the familiar names only play a small role in A Thousand Moons, with the exception of Winona of course. That being said, I found Days Without End to be an immensely more enjoyable read and would highly recommend it over this one. That is not to say I did not enjoy A Thousand Moons. Barry’s writing is as poetic and fluid as ever. He completely encapitulates the scene and immersed me into life in 19th century southern United States. He paints the characters so well, even those who only feature briefly, that I was able to picture them with crystal clarity. Whereas Days Without End is this sprawling, adventurous journey through the American civil war, A Thousand Moons is something wholly different. It’s a slow, teasing novel. I would not go as far as to call it a mystery, though that is a strong element of it. Although not a physical journey like the books predecessor, it is the personal journey of Winona. As she tries to piece herself back together after her attack, so too, does she gain new strengths, and knowledge of herself and others. I’ll be honest and say that when I bought this book, it was in the hope of reliving that feeling I got from Days Without End. It was one of the best books I had read last year. However, Barry changed tact with this one and created a new story all of its own, and yet a continuation of the journey in the first book. In doing so, I guess A Thousand Moons has not lived up to expectations but I still found it a worthwhile read and a captivating tale. Without Barry’s exquisite writing however, I am not sure I would have been so pleased with it.

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  • V
  • 04-12-2020

Did not like the narration

This is quite a drawn-out story that could be half its length, but perhaps a good narrator could have saved it. I listened to the end so it wasn’t unlistenable, but the narration was really annoying! She managed to drag out the word ‘said’ to at least 3 syllables, which really grated because there was a lot of he said/she said!!!

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  • Susan Rowley
  • 26-11-2020

Epic and beautiful

An absolute delight, I was unsure at first about the narrator but it was glorious.

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  • victoria
  • 14-11-2020

Unnecessary

The book is wonderful, almost as good as the first. However, there is a particular branch of the story that I could see coming a mile off. It seemed too cliché though. But he did it and for me it spoilt it. Trying not to ruin the story.

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  • Peter Richardson
  • 25-09-2020

A good follow on from Days Without End

I loved Days Without End, it was a phenomenal story and beautifully narrated. I also enjoyed this sequel, but it doesn't have the same raw power that so captivated me as Days Without End. I would not recommend reading A Thousand Moons without reading Days Without End first; there are too many threads from the first book that will be left flapping in the wind otherwise.

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  • jeremy hurley
  • 03-09-2020

superb narrator

a good narrator makes a good book better and this was a tour destination force,

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  • J N Orr
  • 06-06-2020

A strong and meaningful story

Sebastian Barry is the master of telling a story in the local accent- from Annie Dunn to The Secret Scripture, the voice in your head is an Irish one- so I was saddened that the narrator’s voice irritated me so much, even though it was probably accurate to the American location. Even so, this is clearly Barry’s usual high standard and includes his trade mark linking of characters from his other books: in this case, Eneas McNulty, the whereabouts of whom can be discover in his brilliant book of that name.

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  • Dog Walker Sussex
  • 27-05-2020

Story with a difference

Beautifully written and superbly narrated. A time in American history I knew nothing about .

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  • G. S.
  • 13-05-2020

Disappointing!

I found this 2nd novel in the series to be a pail shadow of the first.

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