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The Barrytown Trilogy by Roddy Doyle

The Barrytown Trilogy

by Roddy Doyle

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1,0821312,332 (4.12)29
Here, in one volume, are Roddy Doyle's three acclaimed novels about the Rabbitte family from Barrytown, Dublin. In them we follow the rapid rise of Jimmy Rabbitte's soul band, the Commitments, and their equally rapid fall; Sharon Rabbitte's attempts to keep the identity of her unborn child's father a secret, amid intense speculation from her family and friends; and the fortunes of the travelling fish 'n' chips van that Jimmy Rabbitte Sr and his friend Bimbo launch for the good people of Barrytown. 'Mr Doyle has made his own the gritty world of modern Dublin' New York Times 'An absurd comedy of the commonplace...a charming, truthful and immensely funny story which leaves you gasping for more' Sunday Times on The Commitments 'A superb creation, exploding with cheerful chauvinism and black Celtic humour... You finish the book hungry for more' The Times on The Snapper 'A wonderfully funny book, that crackles and spits like fat in the fryer. It is also very touching...fine entertainment' Daily Telegraph on The Van… (more)
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Just finished The Barrytown Trilogy. I have never seen the movie made from the first book in this trilogy, The Commitments. The book has been on my shelf for while and I figured the third book, The Van, would count as a V for the Alpha Kit.

Roddy Doyle brings us the Rabitte family and their friends who live in the Barrytown section of Dublin. It was laugh out loud funny and then sad and then bittersweet. Doyle even managed to make me feel drunk a few times. But his characters are not stereotypes: amid the bravado and insults, they are educated and thoughtful. They make mistakes and learn to live with them as well as they can. Doyle explores relationships, especially in The Snapper and The Van. In the former, a father tries to connect with his pregnant daughter. And in The Van, two friends struggle with their working relationship.
  witchyrichy | Jul 18, 2019 |
Overall, a really good read, though it does drag on a bit in the third novel of the trilogy. I would definitely read Doyle again, however.

The Commitments (*****) - This short novel (140 pages) brings back all the joy of starting out on a great adventure in the days when you still believe anything is possible. In this case, it's starting a soul band in Dublin. The characters are all well-drawn, even in such a brief story, and a lot of personalities emerge. Of course, some of them will surprise you, and by the end of the book there are a lot of changes.

And, oh yeah, it's very funny. It's hard to think of how it could be improved.

The Snapper (****) - The focus shifts from Jimmy Jr. to his sister Sharon, who has become pregnant in a rather embarrassing way. Luckily, she has the support of her family. Though Sharon may be at the center of the book's title, it is Jimmy Sr. who steals the show with his various moods and behavior. He can be incredibly rude, incredibly funny, and incredibly long--often at the same time. This is a book not driven by plot; it is rather a series of scenes, some of them very good, others that don't add a lot. Overall, however, it is very enjoyable and the attitude of the family is great. Doyle's writing is always engaging and he knows how to structure a scene--such as when Sharon's mother is confronted at the door and ends up--well, you'll just have to read it.

The Van (*** 1/2) - Jimmy Sr. is even more the center of this book, and it is another step away from the comic toward the serous, not that there aren't a lot of comic scenes. However, just as the Snapper was considerably longer than the breezy the Commitments, the Van is even longer still, and it is a bit repetitive and draggy at times. The plot, which doesn't count for much, has Jimmy Sr. and his pal Bimbo, both now unemployed, running a fish and chips truck, which puts quite a strain on their friendship. Along the way, there are great scenes and observations, but there is no real momentum to the plot. It ends up bein highly readable because Doyle creates great characters and writes good dialogue. By the end of this third book in the trilogy, it is wearing a bit thin, however. Also, the reader would like to see more about the other members of the family. Jimmy Jr. makes a few cameo appearances in the last two books, and that is it. The other characters from the Commitments have also pretty much disappeared. ( )
  datrappert | Dec 15, 2015 |
A good look into working class life in Ireland, bit too much swearing but if you can get over that, a very good writer ( )
  lisathomson | Jan 11, 2013 |
In The Commitments Jimmy Rabbit and a group of poor Dublin teenagers and one older musician form a soul band. ( )
  MaowangVater | Sep 9, 2011 |
A must-read. It's hard to believe The Commitments was Doyle's first novel.
Maeve Binchy thought The Snapper "very very funny" , and about The Van Jonathan Coe had this to say in The Guardian: "There have been no novels published this year which are so funny, as understanding about the triumphs and indignities of family life, or as brave in touching upon the raw nerves of the male psyche." I cannot put it better. ( )
  mojacobs | Jul 5, 2011 |
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