Smile by Roddy Doyle

2/5 Stars

This follows our protagonist Victor as he flashes between events of his childhood and his new life as an adult bachelor.

I enjoyed the idea of this book, but not quite the execution of it. It felt like we didn’t ever get into the story and the character, we were always just skimming over the top. It didn’t always quite make sense and I struggled the whole time to really see where the story was headed.

The very start of the book has a very sinister tone and suggests at a mystery. Then we make an about face and discuss victors relationship with an attractive TV personality, get to know his buddies at the pub, and watch scenes from his childhood. So it all begins to feel a bit like a family drama, then in the very last few pages we make an abrupt turn again and it is a whole different story. The “surprise” end felt so out of place, which is a shame because it could have been an interesting topic to explore as it very much shadows a piece of classic literature (I hesitate to say which as I don’t want to spoil the end). It all happened so fast and there were so many holes in the story. I would have enjoyed more time actually getting to know the two characters better and seeing more of their lives. We spent sooooo much time on his romantic (wink wink) encounters with Rachel it all just began to feel a bit gratuitous, there was so many far more interesting facets of his life to explore. Victor began to feel just like a static character almost caricature and not a real person at all. And absolutely no time was spent on Eddie so we really didn’t have much context for the ending. I did enjoy the dialogue, it was witty and entertaining and you really felt like you were experiencing an Irish pub. The rest of the story lacked cohesion and there was often parts that didn’t really seem to fit in. I appreciate what the author was trying to do, I think it just missed the mark….by quite a bit….

An ebook copy of this book was provided to me through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review