The Temporary Gentleman - Sebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry

The Temporary Gentleman
2014, 320 pages

Holed up in a relatively humble dwelling in Ghana, the middle-aged Irishman Jack McNulty sits down to write his life story. His commission as an engineer in the army during World War II saw him stationed in Africa. Now, however, it is 1957 and the war is over, but he is reluctant to return to Sligo in his native Ireland. Jack’s eventful past produces both nostalgia and yearning, as well as fear and loathing, as he reconstructs his troubled marriage with the beautiful and enigmatic Mai Kirwan. Jack shares a turbulent life with her, from the blossoming stages of carefree youth in the 1920s to the disarming conflict of losing one another. The Temporary Gentleman is the story of a lost soul retracing his steps so as to be able to go forward.

Sebastian Barry’s heartbreaking novel presents a layered and suspenseful story involving the very humane elements of loss and regret. With its eloquent prose and enticing narrative, ‘The Temporary Gentleman’ is an ode to melancholia.