‘No one seemed to know what happened to my aunt’: Sebastian Barry on The Secret Scripture

After a slow start, the Costa prize-winner completed his novel, inspired by a family mystery, in between visits to his mother in hospital

My first intimation of Roseanne McNulty came when I was driving with my mother through Strandhill in Sligo. We had just gone by the derelict remnant of my great-uncle’s dance hall, the Plaza, which looked out blindly on the stormy bay. Now we were passing the ruins of a little hut by the road, engulfed in an enormous rose bush.

“That’s where your woman was put,” my mother said.

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