Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud Book Review

Monday, 26 April 2021

 


Title: Love After Love
Author: Ingrid Persaud
Pages: 416
Publication date: August 4th 2020
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Genre: fiction, contemporary, cultural

Trigger warnings: homophobia, murder, self harm

About the book
After Betty Ramdin's husband dies, she invites a colleague, Mr. Chetan, to move in with her and her son, Solo. Over time, the three become a family, loving each other deeply and depending upon one another. Then, one fateful night, Solo overhears Betty confiding in Mr. Chetan and learns a secret that plunges him into torment.

Solo flees Trinidad for New York to carve out a lonely existence as an undocumented immigrant, and Mr. Chetan remains the singular thread holding mother and son together. But soon, Mr. Chetan's own burdensome secret is revealed, with heartbreaking consequences.

Review
I went into this book knowing literally nothing about it. I picked it up on a whim because I was in a rush and because it was the closest thing to grab, and boy oh boy, I'm so glad I did because this story is truely beautiful in ways I didn't think was possible.

Persaud's writing captivated me from the start and her story-telling is just breathtaking. This is a story about love in all its forms; as a lover, as a mother, as a son and as a friend. She manages to capture everything that is chaotic, heavy and painful about this love that exists yet also manages to reiterate the beauty and the delicacy that goes along side it and we are forever reminded that one side of love rarely exists without the other.

I feel like the author also nailed the setting of Trinidad and despite the fact that I've never been to Trinidad, I feel like the author somehow managed to capture the beauty and the liveliness of the country as well as its culture and the rhythm that I imagine it to be through vivid descriptions of the day-to-day lives of those we follow throughout this story - not to mention that the colourful and rich descriptions of the food had my mouth watering. The contrast between Trinidad and New York in this book is also one that is done really well and I loved how the author managed to create a distinctive divide between the two places.

I'm not usually the biggest fan of dialogue without quotation marks in books but actually, I think this one worked really well as it was written in an easy format and so it didn't put me off at all. I also really loved the use of Trinidadian dialect which I thought made the book and the characters just seem that much more authentic.

Out of the three main characters we follow, it's Chetan's story that I warmed to the most and I think the author used Chetan as a tool to tell a much bigger story. I've come to learn a lot from this book about how the level of homophobia in Trinidad is brutal beyond means. The fact that Chetan (as well as actual Trinidadians) feel they have to hide their sexuality for fear of their lives saddens me beyond means and I glad Persaud used this book as an opportunity to raise awareness of this very serious issue.

My one and only criticism is that the pacing was a little bit off for my liking. The middle section of the book could have been shaved down slightly and I'd have preferred to have spent a little bit more time with these characters at the end of the book for a more resolute outcome.

It's a bold and vivid story about acceptance and family and friendships and it's a story to elegantly told that with such power and such anguish that it's a story you feel rather than read. I highly recommended.

Verdict: ★★★★

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