The Truth About Love
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The Truth About Love

2.92 of 5 stars 2.92  ·  rating details  ·  108 ratings  ·  31 reviews
The accidental death of a teenage boy has a profound effect on a small Irish town in this compelling new novel from the bestselling author of Damage. As Sissy, the boy’s mother, struggles to overcome her senseless loss, her daughter, Olivia, works to keep her brother’s memory alive in a swiftly changing country. And Thomas—known as “The German” to his neighbors—is drawn in...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 10th 2010 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2009)
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Mandy Jo
This week’s headline? Irish history, distilled

Why this book? love the cover

Which book format? slim new hardback

Primary reading environment? weeknights before bed

Any preconceived notions? just… that cover

Identify most with? definitely the German

Three little words? “her shame-pain”

Goes well with? Cold cut sandwiches

Recommend this to? old ex-pat buddy

I'm starting a new thing this year where all the books featured on this blog will be works of Irish fiction.

I began with this book because I am obsess...more
a brilliant novel about Ireland, political and personal violence and passion and grief and love
"No! I want the world. I want to stay in the world. Even pain-world" (6).
"'You have a son, Mr. Middlehoff?'
I hesitate. On this subject I often do. It's a matter of tense.
'I can see from your face I should go no further'" (37).
"We learn from tragedy. Slowly" (40).
"'What a phrase! "Make love." WHo the hell can make love? People make bread, jam, babies. Who the hell makes love? Not us, Thomas. Not us'" (50).
"To family matters--briefly. You enquire as to my health. You were always courteous. M...more
Sep 04, 2010 Sophia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who are familiar with Irish history and culture
Shelves: 2010, ireland
The Truth About Love showcases the author Josephine Hart's range but was not an easy book to read. It starts off with a bang, literally, as a gruesome accident lethally injures a teenage boy in a small 1960s Irish town. The aftermath of this unnamed boy's death is narrated by three people: 'The German' Thomas Middlehoff, the boy's mother Sissy and his older sister Olivia. They are uniquely different characters, each given a distinctive voice by the author's adept use of language. Parts of the no...more
I stumbled upon this book in the demise-of-Border's sale and was pleasantly surprised by it, in spite of the slower-going sections that drove me to Wikipedia to revive my Irish history--it begins in Ireland in the '60s but ends in present day, so it spans The Troubles and after. At its center is a family broken by personal grief, whose story is sometimes delivered by "the German," a self-exiled man who escapes the horrors of his memories of WWII by settling in their town. Fascinating study of gr...more
I really enjoyed this book, which seems wrong to say considering the subject matter -- crippling grief suffered from the loss of loved ones. I love Josephine Hart's writing. It's brainy but never boring. I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere except for her recent obituaries but the book is semi-autobiographical. By the age of 17, she'd witnessed the deaths of three of her four siblings, including one who died the way the boy did in this book. One of her obituaries quotes her as saying about this...more
I'm afraid this book just felt like some kind of pretext for a history lesson on Ireland. Many of the characters seemed to think and speak like Wikipedia entries. I am definitely not clever enough to really enjoy this book.
Monica Akinyi Odhiambo
I found this book to be very intense,not a typical romance story.Talking about love on a more gripping,intense way of the loss of a loved one.How their presence still lingers despite them being gone.How Mrs O'hara can choose to stay exactly where her son died,just had me confused.And the grief she had to endure,yikes.The way love can have you obsessed,in ways that Mr.MiddleHoff couldn't explain towards Harriett.The mingling of history and the conversations had me really interested.Josephine Hart...more
Meg Marie
The book starts off choppily - narrated from the point of view of a teenage boy after a terrible accident. I felt like I had to slog through a few chapters to figure out what was going on, and the slogging didn't get much better. It was a quick read, but not necessarily a good read. The author seemed to want to tell a lot about the history of Ireland from the 1950s to today, but everything was so obtuse that while I picked up a couple of things I wanted to read about on Wikipedia, I didn't learn...more
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This is a very literary book from Knopf, which is what I expected. If I didn't know it had been published in 2009 I would have thought it was a book from the 1950s or so. There was an essence of an old style, somehow. The pieces didn't always fit together because of the narrator shifts throughout, but one does get a sense of the story. It is a slow creeping story. 3.5 stars if I could give half stars.
Jessica Jeffers
I don't really have much to say about this one, which examines the aftermath of a boy's violent, accidental death in 1960s Ireland. Perhaps this will resonate more with someone who has an interest in or knowledge of that time in the country's history, but I couldn't get into it. Hart occasionally delivered some lovely musings but, overall, the writing was just too vague.
HUGE HUGE Josephine Hart fan, but NO CLUE what happened in her writing this book - I totally get and love that her books require a lot of depth, tough topics, great emotion, etc., but I only read about 25% of this book and that was mostly because I have enjoyed all of her other books - perhaps I'm not as "well read" and smart as I think I am as I could not read this.
I had to persevere with this book as it has an unusual beginnnig which makes sense as you read on. It is a sad story about an Irish family and their unwavering love for each other. The story got last slightly towards the end but redeemed itself in the final pages. The author is also a poet and this shows in her writing.
I did not love this book when I read it but I keep thinking about it as I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. And from my own experiences I think this book is much closer to the truth. If you actually WANT to read a novel about the aftermath of traumatic loss this is the one to read.
A young boy blows himself up making a bomb in Northern England during the peace time, and how that death affects his family, neighbors and friends. Very intricate writing, slightly confusing at times. Beautifully written.
Heidi Leggat
The beginning of this book keeps you reading but the excitement stops there. This was a short easy read but choppy and boring at times. I am still trying to decide what the author intended to convey with this story.
The first 15 pages are as tedious to read as possible. I'm on page 45 now, it's a little faster. Hoping this bugger gets better or I'm going to have to q-u-i-t.
I didnt actually finish reading this book. I found the authors style of reading frustrating and just couldnt put myself through the pain of reading it.
Bryan Worn
The language in this book is so good that I started to read it out loud at one stage just to get the sounds. I would love to hear Alice Haemmerle read it!
Johanna Moran
Contemporary sad Irish story. Really got immersed in the writing. Josephine Hart recently died. The world has lost a great literary talent.
oh God that was depressing. the truth about love just seems to be that people die......and then go on and on in really long monologues. sincerest.
Not a love story as such but YES a very true story about love and mostly loss. Also interesting irish and german history, well written
I loved the first part of the book, and the story between Olivia, Tom and her Mum. I didn't get 'the German' story. What did I miss?
Mary Kay
The writing is beautiful, but this story that begins with a young Irish boy blowing himself up was slow going.
See my reviews at the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Book Nook at
Love is a burden. Love is sacrifice. The truth is this is a brilliant book.
Sep 26, 2009 Joy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Just saw this in the book store yesterday. I liked her book Damage.
at p91 - it started off as a hard read but it has gotten easier
Different perspectives on love of Irish and German people.
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Josephine Hart was born and educated in Ireland. She was a director of Haymarket Publishing, in London, before going on to produce a number of West End plays, including The House of Bernarda Alba by Frederico Garcia Lorea, The Vortex by Noel Coward, and The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch. She was married to Maurice Saatchi and had two sons. She was the author of Damage. Hart died, aged 69, of ovaria...more
More about Josephine Hart...
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