Cover Image: Love


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Member Reviews

2.5 rounded up. I liked the concept, but I found it took too long to get to the story... and once it did, I did not find the story that interesting or engaging. There were minor characters that seemed more intriguing that the main ones. The writing - mostly dialogue - was quite lively, but also dragged on at times. I wanted to enjoy it but ultimately I was glad to finish it.
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An excellent and surprising novel from Doyle, who really deserves more credit for the complexity and innovation of his work than he gets. Full review in the link below.
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Not what I was expecting but the style was very typical of Doyle Unfortunately the book just didn’t interest me much and I found it very hard going.
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I loved this so much, but I Do adore Roddy Doyle’s writing so I’m not really an unbiased reviewer. A close look at friendship in Roddy’s usual style and wit, often on the darker shade, but the honest reality of real life and dark doesn’t mean not funny, not touching or real, it’s just life and that’s what Roddy does best, shows real lives, real friendships, absolutely loved this.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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Roddy Doyle’s Love is about 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.
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when two old friends meet again after a long time apart there will be much catching up to do. And throw in a pub crawl around their old haunts - well, things are likely to get emotional. A super exploration of two characters and their lives together and apart.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this opportunity to review Love.
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I tried this but i just didn't connect with this in the end. It had such promise but it wasn't for me. I liked the original idea but the way it was written didn't really connect with me. I've never read anything by Roddy Doyle but i'd try something else that isn't this.
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For me, ‘Love’ is a cracking example of ‘you get out what you put in’ - i started reading months ago but  - in the midst of first wave work pressures - i wasn’t in the right mood for it and abandoned after about ten pages.  Revisiting, it’s like i’ve picked up a different novel and i was pulled in from the start. Effectively taking the form of a dialogue between two old friends on a pub crawl, albeit with ‘flashback descriptions’ of past events where required, Love explores different forms of love  - longstanding marriages, first love, lust, paternal, maternal and fraternal, at times with devastating effect. I genuinely had tears in my eyes towards the end, and recognised so many aspects.

I can see why people may be put off by the style (I was initially after all), but recommend either sticking with it or coming back to it, and allowing the rich rhythms of the Dublin dialogue wash over and enthrall you.
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A summer evening, two old friends meeting in a Dublin restaurant. They haven’t seen each other for quite some time, Joe still lives in Ireland, David and his family have moved to England. They have grown up with each other, shared all firsts of life and stayed in contact for several decades, now coming close to the age of 60. What starts as a joyful evening of old pals turns into an introspection and questioning of values, of memories which suddenly do seem to differ and of a friendship which after all those years is threatened to break up.

Roddy Doyle’s novel is really astonishing with regard to the liveliness and authenticity with which it is told. The text consists in large parts of dialogue between Joe and David which gives you really the impression of sitting at the table with them, listing to their conversation and taking part in the evening – just without all the drinking. It was all but difficult to imagine the scene and also the way they interact is totally genuine. This is only interrupted by insights in David’s thoughts, while he is talking to his friend, he is reassessing what he hears and, as a reader, you soon get aware that there are things he does not share with Joe albeit the latter is supposedly his best friend.

Even though I liked to learn about the two characters’ points of view, their pondering and wondering, the novel did not really get me hooked. First of all, I guess the imbalance between the two, getting access to one’s thoughts whereas the other is only shown from outside, did not really convince me. Quite naturally, the plot is highly repetitive which is absolutely authentic and believable, yet, not that interesting when you read it. There are funny moments as there is a very strong ending which really made up for a lot in my opinion. In the end, I remain of mixed opinion concerning the novel.
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I found this book strangely mesmeric. It takes place over the course of a single afternoon/evening, in the company of two old, somewhat estranged friends. As they drink together, Joe and Davy discuss their pasts - every love and intimacy and regret. Doyle presents a fantastic encapsulation of friendship, spanning from their youth up until their advancing middle-age. At times, you really feel as if you're sat at the pub alongside them - you feel their animosity, their doubt, the ultimately fond history they share. I've never really read anything like it - I highly recommend!
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You should never judge a book by it’s cover, but your expectations going into this one might be very different depending on whether you’ve seen the UK or US one. 

The British version features a woman’s face, and this novel is ostensibly about a woman. Two late-middle-aged men pub crawl around Dublin as one tells the other the story of how he’s left his wife for a girl they both loved-at-first-sight in their youths. In reality, the love that actually comes through is a love for Irish speech, and pubs, and the men for each other. 

The American cover is a picture of a pint, and is styled to look like a continuation of Roddy Doyle’s Two Pints series, which is probably a better angle to come from. Love is also written almost entirely in  — simply brilliant — dialogue. 

It’s astute, and sensitive and funny, but in all honestly also frustrating and a little boring. As one character constantly hectors the other to get on with the story, you kinda wish he would.
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Well this one won’t be for everyone. Basically on the face of it it’s two old mates going on a pub crawl in Dublin, reminiscing about their youth and their lives today. It’s nearly all dialogue rather than narrative and it takes a bit of getting used to. 

Our two protagonists are Davy and Joe, drinking buddies in their youth, Davy has lived in England for the last 30 years and gets home maybe once a year, occasionally meeting up with Joe. 
This time he meets up with Joe as he has something important to tell him but Joe itself has some major news, something that has happened in his personal life in the last 12 months and spends most of the book trying to explain what happened, as they move onto yet another pub and become more drunk. 

The story hops between their conversation in the present and to events back in their youth. As said it’s very dialogue heavy. It has very little narrative in the traditional sense. At first I found it hard to distinguish who was supposed to be talking but once I got into the rhythm of the writing it flowed naturally. 

There are some fantastic characters in this, the highlight being Davys wife Faye. A hugely entertaining, funny and slightly scary woman(especially in her youth). She lights up the pages when she is featured. 

I really really liked this one. I can see a lot of people not liking it. It is after all two auld lads having a rambling chat about their lives as they get drunk over a night. An unusual format too, nearly like reading a small ensemble play, it is something out if the ordinary. 

Maybe the book agreed with me more easily as I’m a Dubliner(a Northsider) and knew all the streets and the majority of the pubs that were featured. The lingo was second nature to me and the swearing etc very familiar. The “banter” in the pubs also very familiar. 

But no, thinking about it I think I still would have really liked this book. The setting wouldn’t have had the familiarity or the dialogue but I think I still would have thoroughly enjoyed the story, the questions subtly asked, the characters, the comedy and indeed tragedy. 

“Love” is the perfect title for this book. Saying it’s a story about two old friends going on a pub crawl and rambling on about their lives while drunk would do it a huge disservice. That does happen of course and is the veneer of the book but it looks at love in maybe a somewhat obtuse way, but looks at it none the less. The love between a husband and wife, between parents and children, between friends, even a love of a city. 
All these things aren’t apparent on the surface. It’s only when you stop to think about it that you realise all these things have been addressed(all over a few pints of the black stuff between two old friends getting drunk)

I also found it a beautiful homage to my home city of Dublin. Just the little small things here and there. While most of the characters here are quite brash, swearing abundant throughout the book, it treats its real theme, “love” with a sympathetic light hand that makes you realise you are reading a really beautiful story. 

If you start this book and find it a bit hard to get into, please stick with it. You will be rewarded for your perseverance. It’s both quite light and quite deep at the same time. Doyle’s banter style characters are great fun to read. The questions raised about love sneak up on you. You might not even be aware until you reflect later. Doyle obviously loves his home city too. Hell I don’t even drink anymore, havent in over 20 years but I wanted to go to the pubs in the book and spend time there having a few, locking the outside world out and chewing the cud with the locals. 

Many thanks to Netgalley, Random House UK and Roddy Doyle for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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There is an archetypal story in Irish literature of the returning son who has to deal with the associations and obligations of the past. Here, Davy goes back to Dublin and meets up with his friend, Joe, and they spend time together revisiting the streets and pubs where they grew up. 
It is Joe’s confession of a relationship with a woman from their shared past that is the mainspring of the story and the disputed reliability of their memories. The woman, Jessica, was known to them both in the past but Joe has met her again.
Roddy Doyle uses the present time talk between the two friends in a restaurant and in the ensuing pub crawl  to splice discrete moments from their own lives and experiences, particularly the marriage of Davy and Faye. She is a sexy, opinionated woman who appears to offer a chance of escape for Davy from a potentially disastrous relationship with Cathy. But the only problem for Roddy Doyle and the story with the characterisation of Faye is that she seems like an  invented device to add some vigour, energy and humour to a narrative that has been so listless and dreary. When Faye enters the story it is as if the mute button has finally been switched off, but then she is predictable in her unpredictability as the wild card.
At the beginning of the novel, Joe’s earnestness in trying to share his confession teeters on the brink of disdainful argument because Davy questions every statement for logical coherence without any empathy for nuance. The effect is to tilt the meeting of old friends off balance in an entertaining way, but the dialogue soon settles into a seemingly endless trawl through repetitive memories. The word, ‘pints’ is used so often that it felt like aversion therapy and I would never be able to take a drink again. 
At one point, Roddy Doyle’s utter conviction and passion  in trying to create that moment in life when a young man feels a sense of belonging in a pub with the adults in the room is uncomfortable reading, overburdened as it is with the neediness of the author. 
Unfortunately, I think Roddy Doyle shows in this novel that’ It is not easy for a writer to elicit the kind of  insight or emotional truth that stops us in our tracks from ordinary characters, with ordinary lives. He has done it to marvellous effect in previous work, where truths  are raw, 
rambunctious and irreverent. In this more muted, reflective mood it doesn’t work.
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Firstly, thank you to NetGalley and Penguin for giving me an advanced copy of Love for an honest review. All opinions stated are my own.

Love follows a night out in Dublin between Davy and Joe, two friends who have been apart for some time. Over the course of the evening, Davy reflects on past relationships, the death of his mother, and the relationship with his father - all in a series of flashbacks. Meanwhile, Joe talks of his affair with an old-flame who has reentered his life by chance. Whilst Davy and Joe were once good friends, Davy resides in London now, whilst Joe still lives in Ireland. Clearly having outgrown his friendship with Joe, Davy believes this will be their final night together. 

The book is dialogue driven between the two men, whilst cutting to a series of Davy's flashbacks. It's an interesting narrative device, but here it's not executed well. The flashbacks become confusing, especially because they are scattered throughout time and are not chronological. I understand memories are not linear, but for the sake of the readers, stories need to be told clearly so it doesn't become a challenge. 

The dialogue, like all of Doyle's work, is natural and funny. However, it does seem that neither Davy or Joe can get to the point of a conversation. They go around in circles, when it could be cleared up in a couple of moments. This was highly frustrating and I felt the word-count could have been cut significantly if the conversations were edited. I understand Doyle focuses on realism in his work, but there are elements that need to be taken with a pinch of salt - such as editing conversations so readers just get the good, essential parts.

I am a huge Roddy Doyle fan, and I have read most of his novels. However, this became a chore for me. There were times I became interested in the plot, such as when Davy reflects on the relationship with his father. However, this interest didn't last long sadly because soon we are back in the pub, having the same discussion with Joe. I just found 300-plus pages was a lot to ask of readers, especially since Love is just the novelisation of Waiting for Godot. 

I will read Roddy Doyle's future novels, but I feel this one needs another draft and a good edit.
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I’m sorry to say that I gave up on Love around half way through.  I like much of Roddy Doyle’s work and thought Smile was very good, but I couldn’t be doing with this one.

Love consists of two old friends meeting after a longish break and getting slowly drunker and drunker as they catch up on their lives and go in for a lot of introspection and analysis of their relationships.  Doyle, of course, has brilliant moment of insight and occasionally puts his finger on something important about men – like the sudden transition to adulthood they discover, for example.   However, even this went on far too long and I struggled to engage with either of the central characters so their increasingly incoherent dialogue and thoughts went from not very interesting to slightly repellent.  The layout doesn’t help: dialogue is marked by a dash rather than quotation marks, and is also punctuated liberally with dashes within sentences, making it hard to know who is speaking much of the time.  Eventually I decided that life was too short and, Roddy Doyle or no Roddy Doyle, I bailed out.

Others may well enjoy this more than me, but personally I can’t recommend it.

(My thanks to Jonathan Cape for an ARC via NetGalley.)
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This my favourite Roddy Doyle's book in some times. It's funny and poignant at the same time and you cannot help loving the banter between the two MCs.
There's plenty of humour but there's also a lot of food for thought as the two characters talk about their past and their current life.
I loved it and i strongly recommend it.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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More two and a half rounded up to three, I would say. Although I get what Roddy Doyle wanted to do, I found the dialogue between the two men was going round in circles most of the time. The repetitions make the whole conversation very realistic, but it also made me lose patience at times. One of the main reasons why I actually managed to finish the book was the welcome interruption brought about by the passages involving Faye, Davy's wife. I thought she was a terrific character, and found hers and Davy's love story much more interesting than the one between Joe and Jess, the latter being unfortunately the main subject of the conversation. The ending of the novel was very moving, and I am glad I finished it for this reason. It was my first novel by Roddy Doyle, and I'm sure that, unfortunately, I didn't start with the best one.
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Love is a novel about two middle-aged men, friends in their youth who spend an evening drinking in various pubs in Dublin. The story meanders and the narrative, characteristic of the author is written mainly in dialogue. Unfortunately, the story nor the characters engaged me and long term fans of Roddy Doyle may be disappointed. Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the arc.
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Well, this was unlike any book I have read before. Joe and Davy meet in a pub and talk, and talk, and drink, and talk some more, and have another drink. During their night of drinking Joe tells Davy that he has left his wife for the girl they both knew (and fancied) some decades ago. Davy is visiting Ireland after settling in England years ago. Mainly to visit his Dad. His wife Faye isn't with him though. We learn more of their joint and separate pasts from their musings and anecdotes along the way, also with Davy's narration and inner thoughts.
It's mostly dialogue - with inner musings and flashbacks interspersed throughout, the ramblings become less coherent with the increasing alcohol intake but it always stays on the right side of making sense. It's sad in places, happy in others and very poignant all the way through. I hadn't read the synopsis carefully before diving in so I really wasn't prepared for what happened at the end and I think I am better off for that.
It's not a book with a beginning, middle and end, in the traditional sense. It sort of jumps right in, meanders around a bit and then finds its way better towards the end. I understand that this might not appeal to many but, for me, the way it has been written fits the story being told. I also think that it would definitely work better on a screen and I can't help thinking that the author had the screenplay in mind whilst writing this book.
Peppered through with some delicious, occasionally dark, humour, the characters do a good job of keeping things moving. It does drag a bit at times but it is worth persevering with and getting to the end. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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I've read a number of Roddy Doyle books over the years so I am familiar with his narrative. It's very much as if you are there listening to the characters as they speak. He has a very conversationalist style. I didn't really get into this book. I found it to be a bit slow and I didn't really care about the characters.
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