Days Without End (Sebastian Barry)

Days without End follows the journey of Thomas McNulty, an Irish immigrant, and his companion John Cole as they join the U.S. Army during the mid-19th century. Through the American Civil War, love, and hardship, they navigate the brutal realities of conflict, forging unbreakable bonds and redefining notions of family and identity in a turbulent era of American history.

Author: Sebastian Barry
List: Recent Prize Winner
Project: WarAmerican Civil War
Project: Identity Sexual Identity
Year of publication: 2016
Pages: 272





Plot Complexity: moderate
Language Complexity: moderate
Ideas Complexity: high

Days Without End falls under the Green Label in terms of plot complexity, featuring a moderately intricate narrative that spans multiple time periods, explores character development, delves into historical events, and blends genres. The language used in the book is moderately complex, employing a range of vocabulary and sentence structures to enhance the storytelling. The ideas presented in the novel are thought-provoking, touching on themes of love, survival, and the impact of historical events. Overall, Days Without End offers a compelling and engaging reading experience for readers with a top B2 or C1 CEFR level.


‘Time was not something then we thought of as an item that possessed an ending, but something that would go on for ever, all rested and stopped in that moment. Hard to say what I mean by that. You look back at all the endless years when you never had that thought. I am doing that now as I write these words in Tennessee. I am thinking of the days without end of my life. And it is not like that now…’

Having signed up for the US army in the 1850s, aged barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War.

Orphans of terrible hardships themselves, they find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in.

Moving from the plains of the West to Tennessee, Sebastian Barry’s latest work is a masterpiece of atmosphere and language. Both an intensely poignant story of two men and the lives they are dealt, and a fresh look at some of the most fateful years in America’s past, Days Without End is a novel never to be forgotten.

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