Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review: "The Truth About Love" by Josephine Hart

It is the 1960's, and when a teenager's life is unexpectedly cut short in a tragic accident in a small Irish town, there are bound to be repercussions. A German neighbor, running from his own haunted past, reflects on the pain that the family is experiencing and that he himself has suffered in the past. Sissy, the dead boy's mother, spends time in a mental hospital trying to escape from her profound grief over losing her son. Olivia, the dead boy's sister, spends the rest of her life trying to find her own place in the universe while holding on tightly to the memory of her brother. This story is told from these three points of view; briefly by "the German" and Sissy, with a longer conclusion from Olivia's point of view. We discover more about the German's painful past, we discover Sissy's deepest wounds, and we find out what eventually happens to everyone from Olivia.

The Truth About Love fell short of my expectations for me. I could certainly figure out the author's intentions- to both explore how painful deep love can be and to also provide a short history of Ireland, but I felt because these two differing goals were combined it didn't succeed in either respect for me. I can't imagine losing one of my own children, however I failed to feel the pain of Sissy and Olivia suffering the loss of their son and brother. I felt that the descriptions of their love were too clinical and although some may disagree with me, I just felt distant from their pain throughout. I also felt that the history of Ireland and their many battles and wars was unnecessary to this book's plot. I personally picked up the book interested in how these three very different characters reacted to this singular loss and found the chapters on the history of wars uninteresting. I found myself pushing through those chapters in order to just "get through" them.

At the end, I was just disappointed and found the book lacking in those characteristics which I enjoy in fiction. I want to point out, though, that Josephine Hart is a very talented writer, and it isn't that I didn't enjoy her writing, it just ended up not being the book for me. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good war-related, historical read, as well as to anyone who enjoys a novel with an intricate plot that is not necessarily character-driven.

Thank-you to HarperCollins Canada for this review copy! Browse inside this book here or find out more about the author here.

1 comment:

  1. Good review! Seems like the author may have enjoyed the history of Ireland so much she "had" to fit it in somehow... Thanks for sharing what worked and didn't work for you!