Monday, August 23, 2021

Member book review: "Love" by Roddy Doyle

Love / Roddy Doyle

In Roddy Doyle’s latest novel, two men in their late 50’s reconnect to spend an evening talking in various Dublin pubs.  Fueled by alcohol consumption, four letter words are regularly exchanged.  Even so, with awkwardness and evasiveness, these childhood friends, after decades apart, begin to reveal their lives’ truths beneath the generalities.  One of them, Joe, has recently left his wife for a woman both men were enchanted with back in their bachelor days.  Always the dominant member of the pair, he commands the conversation, even if he seems at a loss to fully explain why he left his wife for a woman he barely knows.

Davy is the friend listening, and the novel is presented from his perspective.  In flashbacks interspersed through the conversation, we learn about how he met his wife Faye, and their longtime relationship.  Like Joe, he has secrets that the novel is slow to reveal.  But while Joe seems incapable of articulating his late mid-life crisis, Davy appreciates what life has presented him with, even if his marriage is far from perfect.
At times, the repetitive aspects of the two men’s conversation seem a detriment.  But like any clever poker player, Doyle knows how to hold the cards close to the chest.  In the novel’s final section, a shift in its focus changes everything, and the secrets hinted at throughout are cleverly woven into the story to complete it.  Doyle deftly delivers a finishing punch that makes the reader sit up and applaud a job well done.
Robert Koehler, Medical Librarian
UnityPoint Health-Meriter

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