The content doesn't quite live up to the style, I think. Or maybe I'm just being snippy, I dunno. But I almost want to say that there's something too lighthearted and good-natured about the book. Even when it's describing something utterly horrific, it's strangely cheerful.
Also, the book treats history and politics with a rather broad stroke. There's a real underlying bitterness about the violence of the IRA and the coercive nature of nationalism that is perhaps not unwarranted, but it stridently ignores the other side of the story. I suppose maybe that's a worthwhile aspect, to give the other (Irish) side of the story, but I couldn't help but feel a touch irked by it. Nonetheless, it does cover an interesting portion of history, and draws a vague though intriguing parallel between Irish and Nigerian liberation movements. I suppose its pessimism is a valiant corrective to the normal postcolonial ebullience.
Anyways, politics aside, as a story, it's entertaining and sympathetic. I'm not in a huge rush to read another Barry novel (I've got Long Way Home on my to-read shelf) but I did really enjoy the descriptive passages, especially the ones about sex. There's something wonderfully vibrant about the words he uses to describe things, it's really lovely.