The Truth About Love
By Josephine Hart
Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307272614, 224pp.
Publication Date: August 11, 2009
List Price: $24.00*
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It opens in a small Irish town in the 1960s with the accidental death of a teenage boy who commits one final, heartrending act of love.
Then: three brilliantly realized voices—the boy’s mother, his older sister, a German expat neighbor—speak the story into existence. Their descriptions of the aftermath of the boy’s death mix with meditations and conversations about other loves tested, twisted, or lost—in the past and forward, through the next forty years—as they struggle to make sense of tragedy: the boy’s, their own, their countries’.
In Sissy, the mother, we see how the desperate love of her husband and the delicate bravery of her daughter lure her away from her profound grief. In Thomas—“the German” to his neighbors—we see a man who knows all too well that “after a tragedy, many survivors are lost.” In Olivia, the boy’s sister, we see someone who remains intent on embracing the “weapon of memory.”
These voices speak with piercing emotion and intellect and, in Josephine Hart’s deft hands, they describe whole lives. Moment by moment we come to understand how these men and women are shaped in essential ways by the boy’s death, by their inherent characters, and by what they learn from one another about loss and love—and what it takes to bear them both.
Praise from England and Ireland:
“The Truth About Love is an ambitious and poetic weaving of a long-ago family tragedy into the tragic history, and histories, of our time. Josephine Hart has come home in triumph.”
“In this compelling and remarkable book, Hart has written a moving lament for exile . . . The novel’s opening is a tour de force . . . There are echoes of Beckett and Joyce in Hart’s writing, especially in the brilliantly fractured syntax.”
–Times Literary Supplement
“Deeply moving . . . It packs a punch far beyond its size . . . An uncompromising tale that explores grief, redemption and memory.”
“A bleak tale, beautifully told, about the one burden we must all, as human beings, survive . . . Hart takes us to a place that, for most of us, has hitherto been both unimagined and unimaginable.”
“Hart’s dialogue is extraordinary, blending poetry and naturalism like the great Irish playwrights . . . This book is sui generis.”
“A brave novel . . . Hart’s [characters] live beyond the confines of even her fiery and elegant prose and are impossible, once encountered, to forget.”
“A genuine, deeply felt story of love and loss.”