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The Van (The Barrytown Trilogy #3)

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,081 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
The new novel from the author of The Commitments continues to trace the up-and-down life of the Rabbitte family in working-class Dublin. Jimmy Rabbitte Senior and his friend Bimbo are miserable until they buy a decrepit fish-and-chip van. The Van follows them as they haul their mobile food outlet through Dublin, one step ahead of the environmental health officers.
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published August 1st 1992 by Viking Books (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Allan
Oct 08, 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
...more
Nancy Oakes
Mar 24, 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
Roberta
Feb 27, 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
...more
Darren Sant
Sep 24, 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
...more
Susan
Sep 26, 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
Barbara M
Jan 09, 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
Hobart
Sep 02, 2015 Hobart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
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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
...more
Dickydavis
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.
Rick Patterson
Aug 18, 2015 Rick Patterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Michelle
Aug 18, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Benjamin
Dec 18, 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.
Jesse
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'.
Elizabeth
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
A
Aug 21, 2014 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
Erin
Apr 17, 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
Sandra
Feb 07, 2014 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Carol
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
Michael
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 its 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 exp ...more
Michael
May 05, 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
Bob
May 22, 2016 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can't imagine anyone writes in modern Irish vernacular more brilliantly than Doyle. This is a laugh-out-loud funny and poignant story of two middle-aged friends who, in the wake of their having lost their respective jobs, decide to run a chips van together. As the initial euphoria of working together begins to melt into the demise of their long relationship, Doyle gives as a beautiful snapshot of modern middle class Ireland, family and friendship.
Daryl
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
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
Derek Bridge
Feb 07, 2015 Derek Bridge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favourite of the Barrytown Trilogy, a brilliant insight into male friendship. Running a chip van brings Jimmy Rabbitte Senior and his mate Bimbo closer together, but then also drives them apart. The narrative arc is supremely well-handled.

I love this book.
Jennifer Collins
This book was great. I love Jimmy Rabbitte Sr and this last book in the Barrytown trilogy set him as the star. The serious situations kind of sneak up on you as you laugh out loud during the hilarious conversations. I think Doyle is a genuine artist who paints real and gritty drama throughout outrageous situations. Loved this book!
Cricri
Sep 22, 2015 Cricri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
l'Irlanda, il suo clima ed i suoi pub fa da sfondo a questa bella storia divertente e malinconica in cui spicca la personalità di uno dei protagonisti. Mi è piaciuto molto, devo vedere il film, ora!
Sandra Evans
Unemployed? Read this. Doyle fully captures the little kicks that make such big bruises. And of course, those small but precious triumphs that keep you getting out of bed most days.
Seán McNamara
Dec 31, 2014 Seán McNamara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best of the Barrytown trilogy books and the weakest of the movies. Brilliant book set around the glorious summer of the Italia 90 World Cup. Very nostalgic and humourous tale.
Carl Williams
Dec 30, 2014 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
Hans
Mar 31, 2009 Hans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(with apologies to WCW)

so much depends
upon

a white chipper
van

glazed with hot
oil

outside the dark
local
---
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
...more
Michael
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
...more
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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
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.”
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