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The Van (The Barrytown Trilogy #3)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  5,423 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
Jimmy Rabbitte, Sr. is unemployed, spending his days alone and miserable. When his best friend, Bimbo, also gets laid off, they keep by being miserable together. Things seem to look up when they buy a decrepit fish-and-chip van and go into business, selling cheap grub to the drunk and the hungry--and keeping one step ahead of the environmental health officers.
Paperback, 311 pages
Published 1992 by Minerva (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30)
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Glenn Sumi
Feb 12, 2017 Glenn Sumi rated it it was amazing
[Please excuse any expletives in this review. Roddy Doyle and his Barrytown characters' language is catchy...]


I was going to give this 4 stars, reserving full marks for Doyle’s The Last Roundup trilogy (which I haven’t read but have heard is very ambitious and a departure for the author). But now that I think about it, that idea is pure shite. Why reserve a rating for a series I haven’t read yet? I’ve read The Van, just put it down an hour ago in fact, and I liked it a lot. It’s a lovely
This ironic comedy of working class residents of Dublin has its charms, but it wears a little thin to me halfway through. Jimmy Rabbitte is laid off, and it's a bit of a stretch to cover rounds of pints with his friends. When the same fate befalls his friend Bimbo, they together hatch a plan to refurbish an old van to make a mobile fish-and-chips business in time for the world soccer cup playoffs. The story renders the most pleasure as they struggle toward success against all odds and the low ex ...more
Oct 04, 2014 Allan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third in the Barrytown Trilogy, the first of which made Roddy Doyle into a household name as an author in the late 80s.

The main character in the debut, Jimmy Jr, again takes a background role, as does the main focus of The Snapper, sister Sharon, this novel focusing primarily on Jimmy Sr and his relationships with family members and his friend Bimbo, as well as on his own sense of identity and self worth. Doyle tackles some heavy themes in the book, but does so through a backdrop of
Nancy Oakes
Feb 05, 2014 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sweet Jaysis, this was a fine book! In fact, over the course of the last week or two, I've managed to finish all three fine books of Roddy Doyle's original Barrytown Trilogy, in preparation for reading The Guts, which just came out this year. One big thing about these novels that kept me glued to their pages was how the major dilemmas in their lives prompted the characters to move beyond their current troubles, to have faith in and to take advantage of what ever possibilities might present thems ...more
Feb 25, 2015 Roberta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tutto-doyle
This is a bittersweet story about a friendship ruined by business. Jimmy and Bimbo are unemployed, until Bimbo buys a van and start selling street food with his Jimmy. At the beginning they're just two pals, two equals, working together and enjoying each other's company. But the van is small and the temperature soon raises, both physically and metaphorically, as soon as the deep frier start rolling.
I used to like Doyle in the '90s, and I still enjoy reading him, but the Rabbite family is not as
Darren Sant
Sep 04, 2012 Darren Sant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roddy Doyle is best known for being the author of The Commitments which was made into a smash hit film. When I started reading The Van I expected the same kind of larger than life characters as The Commitments and I wasn't disappointed.
Jimmy Senior is unemployed and depressed. He spends his time with his granddaughter trying to fill the endless days. He tries his best to make light of his situation but his anger often gets the better of him.
This is where we find ourselves at the start of the nov
Aug 06, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-emerald-isle
It's difficult to separate The Van from the two other novels (The Commitments, The Snapper), in Doyle's Barrytown Trilogy, and it's not just because I read the all-in-one edition. Doyle's stories of a working-class family in the fictional Dublin district of Barrytown could easily have been combined into one novel. And how I'll miss the Rabbitte family, immortalized in the 1991 film version of The Commitments! They make little setbacks like unwed pregnancy and the dole seem trivial, to be met sho ...more
Mar 14, 2012 Dickydavis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jimmy Sr is one of the most likable anti-heroes in literary history. Not the brightest, not the cleanest, not the most moral, but ultimately a good man at his heart, and the resulting warmth in this story of two men trying to regain their dignity and make a few bob at the same time had me smiling all the way through. If you ever had any affection for your Dad, you'll see him in Jimmy Sr.
Dec 13, 2009 Benjamin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Further adventures of the Rabbitte's. It's the 3rd in Doyle's "The Barrytown Trilogy," but I skipped the first one - The Commitments. Maybe I'll read that later, but probably not.
Dec 04, 2008 Jesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Another one of my favorites by this author. Nothing too exciting, just a really good story. This stars the same family that is in 'The Commitments' and 'The Snapper'.
Don Jimmy
May 16, 2017 Don Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up. it's good. quite funny, but not for everyone
Aug 25, 2015 Hobart rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.

Jimmy Rabbitte, Sr. started off as a supporting character in The Commitments, moved up to co-star in The Snapper, and finally moves to the forefront in The Van, which is more about him than the other two were about any one person. Which isn't to say that Jimmy, Jr., Sharon, Veronica, Darren and the twins aren't here, they're just in the background -- as are most of Jimmy, Sr.'s friends (actually, I think Jr.'s in this far more than he was T
Tim Armstrong
Mar 17, 2017 Tim Armstrong rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My absolute favourite of the Barrytown trilogy.
There were numerous times where I had to put this book down as I couldn't read it due to the tears in my eyes.
I'm not going to say anymore just read this and the rest os this series, which is now four books!
The third (final?) entry of the Barrytown series (are we counting The Guts now?) follows Jimmy Rabbitte, Sr. in Dublin in the early '90s. He's unemployed & filling his time while on the dole: babysitting his grand-daughter, spending a ton of time at the library, & golfing. To an outsider, that might sound like a easy time, but in truth, Jimmy is adrift, ashamed of the fact his family relies on welfare & concerned that they are coming apart as each Rabbitte tries to better their circu ...more
Barbara M
Jan 01, 2015 Barbara M rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended by someone in my bookclub and read by the group. I would not have otherwise read it. Our book club members had different reactions to the book. Some members found it funny - others did not. Some were bothered by the vulgar language - others were not bothered by it. In my opinion, it's not a good choice for a book club with diverse members since it doesn't appeal to everyone. I do see on Goodreads that many people LOVED the book. Also, some members of my book club enjoye ...more
Jan 15, 2017 mikka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
his is the third book of the Barrytown trilogy, but its style and composition strength are still lively and vivid. There's some differences, though: in the first two volumes we're set in media res in the plot, whereas here the author lingers - for a bit too much, maybe - in setting the scenario, defining the borders of the story.
One more difference I felt is the wider space dedicated to social and psychological analysis, an analysis he sketches without parading. It's a social analysis when he sh
Jan 04, 2013 A rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Van is not Roddy Doyle's best effort in my humble opinion. Its strength is in its characters, which Doyle nails. Its plot and the evolution of the story really are very weak though. The plot - man is out of work, best friend gets fired too, they buy old Fish and Chips van and start a business; friends don't make great business partners; the end. For all intents and purposes you have just read The Van. Sorry didn't mark this as a spoiler, but since the plot is so weak it doesn't really matter ...more
Feb 25, 2014 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Van is another slice of life novel from Roddy Doyle about working class families in a downtrodden suburb of Dublin. Father Jimmy Sr. has been laid off and is living off the dole, and he spends his days in a mixture of denial and depression. When his best friend Bimbo also gets laid off, the two of them buoy each other during their newfound free time. Then Bimbo buys a "chipper van," or a food truck in American parlance, and he and Jimmy start making money again. Things start to sour when Bim ...more
Aug 18, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
This short, great novel takes place in working-class Ireland in 1990. The story is simple and understated. Jimmy Rabitte is in his forties and recently unemployed. When his best friend Bimbo Reeves is also laid off, they go into business running a fish and chips van, selling cheap food outside of bars, soccer matches, and at the beach. Doyle has an affectionate sense of humor about his characters and achieves a very warm realism. I especially liked the fact that Doyle is not afraid to give Jimmy ...more
Nov 25, 2013 Sandra rated it it was amazing
Another Roddy Doyle and that one is a Doyle classic. The Rabbitte-Family is the charming and chaotic hub of Doyle's trilogy. The Van is the last book in the Barrytown Trilogy, including also The Commitments and The Snapper.

Being unemployed for some time now, Jimmy Sr. and his best friend Bimbo take the fish by its fin and start their own business. A greasy, smelly and broken van builds the base of their plunge into entrepreneurship. A Dublienese version of a food truck. ”McDonalds can go an' fuc
Apr 22, 2010 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Right after this vook was made in toa mocvie, O decoded tjay tje most iomportant tjhind abnout teradng was jhacing the avilirty rto rad./ After tjayt tinme, it seemed rtallt relevamt tro make suire wjhile reading tou jad the right approacj to reading, for ecample, wjhile rteadiong bnuy rtoueself, ir is nor alwaus the nesrt idea to read opuir lous, nbuir sometimes tjhe onlt wat to oreallt apprecoate tje woromtg of somegosduy lik,e roddu dpotyl;e is to rad opit loudf. tje vfanm os a classioc excsa ...more
Alison Anderson
Wasn't 100% sure on this one - took quite a while to get into it, but then was more gripping as time went on, several of our bookgroup thought it was quite funny but I found the humour to be bittersweet, ie fundamentally sad as Jimmy Rabbitte has a sad, unfulfilled life, constantly struggling with poverty. The constant swearing took some getting used to, but was easier if imagined in an Irish accent ( book is set in Ireland) - the sad steady deterioration of his friendship with Bimbo after start ...more
Aug 15, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it
Oh Roddy, Gawd love ye', thank you for sharing your talents with the world. Once again Roddy Doyle brings us a book full of laughter and tears.

I love an author that can bring you out of the blues and that is what Roddy does everytime. His characters are flawed, real and loveable and his scenarios are everyday life in Ireland.

In this book Jimmy Sr is out of work so his mate Bimbo, also recently retrenched, buys a fish and chip van and the boys set out as entrepreneurs. There's stress, harassmen
Rick Patterson
Aug 16, 2015 Rick Patterson rated it really liked it
Like just about everything I've ever read by Roddy Doyle, this is a short story that has expanded into a novel by virtue of its dialogue. Doyle loves his characters' voices and he spends a lot of energy getting us to love them too, all of which serves to dress up a fairly prosaic story into a bantering feast.
Most impressive is his ability to show rather than to tell, which is Creative Writing 101, of course, but is so so very hard to do well. When Jimmy Sr gets a fiver from his son, the emotiona
May 04, 2013 Daryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The third book of Doyle's Barrytown trilogy was my least favorite, and my least favorite of any of Doyle's novels. The focus here shifts from the kids to the father. He and a friend buy a chipper van -- a food van that sells chips, burgers, and fish -- and go into business for themselves. It didn't hold my interest, though there are some great bits throughout. There's a lot of discussion of soccer and soccer matches, which totally lost me. It's a bit more serious and depressing than the other Ba ...more
Dec 29, 2010 Jimmie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though I really enjoyed the first two books in "The Barrytown Trilogy," I had to check this book out of the library five times before I actually read it. I'm glad I finally did! It's a hilarious and touching and sweet story about a man trying to make himself relevant when his gut is telling him he's lost past his Use By date. It's easily the best in the trilogy.

Like his other books, it's written in an incredibly thick Irish accent. Doyle also refuses to use quotation marks in his dialogue-h
Anyone who's Irish probably loves this book. Anyone with Irish relatives or spends a lot of time with Irish folks, probably love this book. It's full of hilarious stories that are told in such a way that if you're not keen on how they're being told you might miss the joke. I recommend it to anyone that fits the bill above.

That being said, the story lags quite a bit. It doesn't really have a story arc, and the ending is wrapped up in just about 30 pages. By 'wrapped up', it's a fairly obvious con
Feb 01, 2009 Hans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(with apologies to WCW)

so much depends

a white chipper

glazed with hot

outside the dark
In this bittersweet conclusion to the Barrytown books, Doyle's storytelling shines. Like the first two books, he allows the voice of the characters to carry each scene while filling in the surrounding elements.

Through the three books, you can't help but fall for the whole Rabbitte family, especially as the complexity of their humanity show through. For those not ready to say goodbye after this
Carl Williams
Jul 13, 2011 Carl Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The final chapter of this trilogy explored the father of the Rabbitte clan, Jimmy Sr. After losing his job, and struggling to make ends meet he and a friend open up a street van, selling food when the pubs close, after games, etc. As often happens with dreams, and plans with friends, a number of issues develop. Jimmy Sr. takes advantage of the public library, though there are things he wants to use but doesn't know if there is a charge so goes without rather than asking and potentially seeming s ...more
Jul 26, 2011 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Another volume in the Barrytown trilogy. This time old man Rabbitt buys a chip van in order to start a business. Funnier than the previous two volumes, this book focuses on his attempts to rejuvenate himself. It can only end badly.

Doyle does know how to write heart-warming scenes and The Van is full of them. He also has comic timing because the laughs come at the right moments. Saying that his books are never saccharine or overtly twee. It's social commentary disguised as feel good fiction. Not
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Roddy Doyle (Irish: Ruaidhrí Ó Dúill) is an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter. Several of his books have been made into successful films, beginning with The Commitments in 1991. He won the Booker Prize in 1993.

Doyle grew up in Kilbarrack, Dublin. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University College, Dublin. He spent several years as an English and geography teacher before becoming
More about Roddy Doyle...

Other Books in the Series

The Barrytown Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Commitments
  • The Snapper (The Barrytown Trilogy, #2)

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“-I love yeh, son, said Jimmy Sr.
He could say it and no one could hear him, except young Jimmy, because of the singing and roaring and breaking glasses.
-I think you’re fuckin’ great, said Jimmy Sr.
-Ah fuck off, will yeh, said Jimmy Jr. -Packie saved the fuckin’ penalty, not me.
But he liked what he’d heard, Jimmy Sr could tell that. He gave Jimmy Sr a dig in the stomach.
-You’re not a bad oul’ cunt yourself, he said.”
More quotes…