I read Days Without End by Sebastian Barry last year, but apparently forgot to include it in my blog. It was chosen this year for our August book group, so I re-read it. And I can easily say that I think this is the best book that I have read so far this year. The writing is stunning and the characters are so very well developed. I have been a fan of Barry for a long time, and this book is just amazing.
The story is about two young boys who met around 1850. Thomas McNulty was an orphaned young boy who had come to America from Ireland by himself. He met John Cole, a young boy from New England, in Missouri under a hedge escaping the rain when they were around fourteen or fifteen years old and quickly became the best of friends. Once they left their covering, they came across a saloon looking for young boys to dress up as female dance partners for the miners who came in the saloon. After Thomas and John got a little older, they had to leave that work and so they signed up for the army together, fighting in the Indian Wars. It was during that time, that the boys became lovers. During their time fighting, they found a nine year old Indian girl who they took care of and became their daughter. Soon the Civil War began and the two boys/men signed up and left Winona with a trusted friend. The Civil War fighting was as brutal as the Indian War. The two were taken prisoners. By the time they were freed, they learned that Winona's uncle wanted her back with the tribe.
In all, the story is about two boys who live through horrors and hard times, and love each other through it all.
"I almost wasn't able to say, my father died too. I saw his body. Hunger is sort of fire, a furnace. I loved my father when I was a human person formerly. The he died and I was hungry and then the ship. Then nothing. Then America. Then John Cole. John Cole was my love, all my love."