One summer’s evening, two men meet up in a Dublin restaurant.
Old friends, now married and with grown-up children, their lives have taken seemingly similar paths. But Joe has a secret he has to tell Davy, and Davy, a grief he wants to keep from Joe. Both are not the men they used to be.
Neither Davy nor Joe know what the night has in store, but as two pints turns to three, then five, and the men set out to revisit the haunts of their youth, the ghosts of Dublin entwine around them. Their first buoyant forays into adulthood, the pubs, the parties, broken hearts and bungled affairs, as well as the memories of what eventually drove them apart.
As the two friends try to reconcile their versions of the past over the course of one night, Love offers up a delightfully comic, yet moving portrait of the many forms love can take throughout our lives.
Roddy Doyle’s Love is about just that. The word in the title.
Davy is back in Dublin having moved to London when he married. He and Joe, a friend from his youth, meet up as they’ve clearly done through the years. Time has estranged them; they have a superficial understanding of each others lives and now find themselves approaching sixty with grown families. It seems they meet up out of politeness, the friendship apparently running on empty, Davy suggests this will be the last time he’ll come to back to Dublin, to meet Joe. This time though, as the story emerges, they both have secrets they’ll share. It all starts when they agree to have “one more” which leads them on an odyssey through their youth.
The book is written in Doyle’s usual style, it’s almost entirely dialogue between the two men with Davy filling in some details as the narrator, offering some context of their relationship as they move from dinner to a crawl through Dublin’s pubs. It moves along at a fair pace and twists and turns.
There are regular humour and laughs, and plenty of the local vernacular, but this is a serious story of how men become friends and why those friendships endure, it deals with the often different viewpoints two people can have of the same memory and the difference in perception of where power lies in all relationships.
The dialogue is authentic and conforms to the adage that men struggle to talk about their feelings, Joe spends most of the book trying to explain why he’s left his wife, the cause coming from the glory days of Davy and Joe’s almost forgotten youth, while frustrating Davy with his inaccurate and often confused words and half-hearted justifications.
The story winds along as they move from pub to pub, the two drifting together and apart, but never far apart to call it a night. We spend most of the book exploring Joe’s story but it’s when Davy’s reasons for being in Dublin come out that the bonds formed so long ago, around special places and special people, that the book finally settles on the meaning of the word in the title.
Another good read from this best selling author.
Thank you to the publisher for my advanced copy via Netgalley. Love was released October 15th 2020.