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Start with a torpedo, and see where you go from there

A review of The Temporary Gentleman, by Sebastian Barry. The compulsive story of a lovable failure

19 April 2014

9:00 AM

19 April 2014

9:00 AM

The Temporary Gentleman Sebastian Barry

Faber, pp.270, £17.99, ISBN: 9780571276950

Sebastian Barry’s new novel opens with a bang, as a German torpedo hits a supply ship bound for the Gold Coast. We experience everything through the senses of ‘temporary gentleman’ Jack McNulty — an Irish officer in the British army with a short-term commission. Brimful of whiskey, his racing winnings jingling cheerily in his pocket, McNulty stands on deck ‘somewhat in love with an unknown coastline’, and the reader is, instantly, somewhat in love, and completely bound up with, this red-haired chancer.

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