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3.42  ·  Rating details ·  3,546 ratings  ·  527 reviews
Smile has all the features for which Roddy Doyle has become famous: the razor-sharp dialogue, the humour, the superb evocation of childhood – but this is a novel unlike any he has written before. When you finish the last page you will have been challenged to re-evaluate everything you think you remember so clearly.

Just moved into a new apartment, alone for the first time i
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 7th 2017 by Jonathan Cape
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Martin McGovern I wouldn't think they are similar at all and I have read both. I think Smile is a lot funnier and less dark, although the subject matter is difficult,…moreI wouldn't think they are similar at all and I have read both. I think Smile is a lot funnier and less dark, although the subject matter is difficult, he does not dwell on it until the very end. Horse meanwhile is chapter after chapter about the comedian heading downwards towards a breakdown, much more serious. In fact I don't think I laughed once in Horse, even at the few jokes within.
Smile on the other hand has many laugh out loud moments (maybe that's my Irish sense of humour).(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Michael Chapman
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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 ·  3,546 ratings  ·  527 reviews

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I'm not sure that anyone writes poor, scrappy white kids like Roddy Doyle.

And, Jaysus, can this man summon Voice.

Almost no living writer today writes dialogue better than Doyle, and the back streets we've journeyed together. . . the cobbled and the whole. . . have conglomerated in my mind like one long love song for the broken boys of Ireland.

But, this one. This one broke my fucking heart.

I'm not playing around here. If you're old enough to remember when The Crying Game came out and how shocke
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3+ stars. Roddy Doyle has been around for a long time. I had read some of his earlier novels and not much since. I've never been to Ireland but always feel that he captures the sensibility of his country. I liked Smile for that reason. But I didn't love it. It's an oddly almost dreamy short novel told from the perspective of first person narrator Victor. Victor's story jumps around in time. He tells the story from his 54 year old perspective, now finding himself alone, with only pub mates as his ...more
Bernard O'Keeffe
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
(Contains spoilers)

As soon as you reach the end of Roddy Doyle’s extraordinary novel, ‘Smile’, you’re tempted to go back and read it straight through again to work out whether you should have anticipated the narrative trick Doyle has just pulled and whether or not the whole thing actually works.

I have done just that and I have to admit I’m not entirely convinced that it does – I’m still baffled, and I’m still worried that in ‘Smile’ the great Roddy Doyle might have, literally and metaphorically,
Nancy Oakes
4.5 rounded up

One Amazon reviewer: ". All the reviews that talked about the shocking twist had to be paid off because anyone could see that twist coming."

BS. I was knocked off my chair.

If there was one word to describe how I felt after finishing this novel, I think it would have to be "shocked." I just sat here thinking about the last page, and continued to think about it for hours. It really is the kind of ending that will stay with you for a long, long time; you might also want to consider fo
Ron Charles
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guys-wandering
We’ve got a couple of months to go, but it’s safe to say that Roddy Doyle’s “Smile” is the most bitterly ironic title of 2017.

Ha, ha, ha, indeed.

Doyle, who won the Booker Prize in 1993 for his portrayal of young Paddy Clarke, is the Irish master of crumpled hope — and no country provides stiffer competition in that category.

His new novel offers a deceptively languid plot laced with menace. Paced more like a short story than a novel, “Smile” creates contradictory feelings of poignant stagnation a
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is my first taste of a Roddy Doyle novel and this book highlighted to me the authors excellent writing style, full of wit with a disturbing backdrop.
Having just moved into a new apartment, Victor Forde goes to Donnelly’s pub for a pint, He is interrupted by a strangely dressed man in shorts and a pink shirt who sits down next to him. He seems to know Victor’s name and to remember him from school, and tells Victor his name is Fitzpatrick. Victor takes an instant dislike to Fitzpatrick and o
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smile by Roddy Doyle is a psychological novel that touches on memory, repression, isolation and the desire for friendship. The main protagonist, Victor, goes each evening to a local pub for a few drinks. One evening, he meets a man in shorts and a pink shirt. His name is Fitzpatrick. Victor doesn't recognize the man, nor particularly like him, but apparently they went to school together. During their time together Fitzpatrick stirs up memories of Victor's time at school which are often conflicti ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it

Wow. I did not see that whiplash of an ending.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Roddy Doyle does gritty, real life Dublin life with a sense of humour and a great ear for dialogue. It's what he is famous for. Recently he published a series of short dialogues on current affairs, narrated over a pint of beer in a bar (Two Pints). These were previously published in newspapers and were, at best, ephemeral.

So in Smile, where we meet Victor Forde down the pub, having a series of conversations over beer, it is difficult to disengage from Two Pints and see the conversation as somet
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, irishfic
I knew what I'd just done. I'd invented something that would live for years. My own monster, and I was giving it to my friends, the only people I cared about and the only people who really, really frightened me, because of how things shifted, how the wrong word, the wrong shirt, the wrong band, an irresistible smile, could destroy you. You had to have something useful, your size or a temper, or a sister. The Brothers were zombies. Because I said they were.

It has been a lot of years since I r
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This follows our protagonist Victor as he flashes between events of his childhood and his new life as an adult bachelor.
I enjoyed the idea of this book, but not quite the execution of it. It felt like we didn't ever get into the story and the character, we were always just skimming over the top. It didn't always quite make sense and I struggled the whole time to really see where the story was headed.
The very start of the book has a very sinister tone and suggests at a mystery. Then we make an ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A bitter sweet tale of a man reflecting on a failed marriage and childhood abuse at the hands of the monks in his Catholic school. I know this sounds really depressing but Doyle manages to write about this situation in a sympathetic and often funny way.

Not his best book, but worth a read nontheless
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A smile to cover things up. But actually anything but a smile .... impressive! Disturbing! Food for thought! This will haunt me for quite a while.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
'Smile' by Roddy Doyle is a definite change from his normal books. Although his huge talent for creating realistic, memorable characters, wonderful dialogue and wit exists in this novel, 'Smile' examines a much more sinister topic than in previous books and delves into the heart breaking repercussions and the lifetime effects of abuse for Victor, the novels main character. This is an immensely brave novel from Doyle. Initially I thought the ending strange as I hadn’t guessed the outcome througho ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I kept changing my mind as I was listening to this audiobook (read by Doyle himself) but now that I’m finished (and have mopped up my tears), I’m calling it a small, quiet masterpiece. If you've enjoyed any of Doyle's writing in the past or want a nice introduction to how powerful his writing can be, this is a great place to start--and since you're better off not knowing much about the book going into it, you might as well just read it real quick.

Dec 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
*2.5 stars*

Victor, having recently left a long-term relationship, moves into an apartment in his old neighbourhood and begins frequenting his local on a regular basis. One night he is approached by a man named Fitzpatrick who remembers Victor from their days at the Christian Brothers school. Try as he might, Victor cannot remember Fitzpatrick. The book alternates between the present day at the pub, scenes from Victor’s successful life prior to the breakup with his partner, and remembrances from
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I began to read Smile, I was a bit anxious. After all, the last time I read a Roddy Doyle was The Woman who Walked into Doors back in 2001. What if Doyle lost his touch? What if I’m not the intended audience for his books?

To be honest I didn’t need to worry because, for me, Smile was reuniting with a long lost friend, one who became brainier during the interim period. Smile is indeed Doyle at his cleverest. Yet it still has his common trademarks. It focuses on topical issues but injects som
I really can't decide, on balance, whether I liked this book.

Loved: the dialogue (nobody writes dialogue like Roddy Doyle), the humour, the sense of place...
Disliked: the mid-life moaning, the sourness about life...

But the ending upsets everything! It came out of nowhere, and upends all your expectations, and now I'm not sure how I feel.

But I think I like it more now than I did while reading it...hmmm.
Adrian White
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, I didn't really enjoy reading Smile all that much. I rushed through it, in part because it was due back to the library and in part because I just am not that interested in reading about some guy having raunchy sex with his beautiful wife. Or girlfriend, or whatever. The language is consistently foul -- the f word, the c word. When you're speed reading, the fact that the f word can be a verb, a noun, an adjective or an adverb can be a little confusing, especially when it's three dif ...more
This is a quick read and to be honest there were long scenes of the protagonist, 53-year-old Victor Forde, which his "would-be friends", a group of his male contemporaries, that I skimmed. Too much male blathering...

The book begins with Victor moving into new digs. We learn he's left his wife, but not why. He has a son, who he barely mentions. The beginning of the book goes into detail about his teenage years as a student in a Christian Brothers school, a central part of the story, and endless d
Rob Twinem
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A powerful voice in Irish writing returns  with an evocative novel illustrating once again the misery, pain and ruined lives caused by the sexual abuse scandal prevalent within the Catholic Church from the 1950's. Victor Forde is now a lone single man who spends part of each day in Donnelly's public house. He makes the acquaintance of Fitzpatrick, who he instantly takes a dislike to. There is something strange and unwarranted about this individual, that wakes some very painful memories in the m ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The great Irish storyteller Roddy Doyle has given us a rather unreliable narrator in Victor Forde, who has taken to seeking solace for his mid-life crisis in the local pub fraternity of regulars, bonding over a few pints each evening. Accosted by a boorish stranger one day, claiming to be an old school acquaintance, Victor finds himself forced to revisit scenes from his youth that he would rather forget - in particular, his sexual abuse at the hands of one of the sadistic Christian Brothers. The ...more
Shirley Bateman
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Is it possible for a book to be tedious and infuriating at the same time? This is how I felt about ‘Smile’. I didn’t find this engaging at all. It took me ages to read as I kept reading a little bit then falling asleep. It picked up a bit towards the end and I thought it was getting better. Sadly, no. When I finished it, I actually said out loud, ‘That was just ridiculous.’

It’s a bit heartbreaking for me to write this review because Roddy Doyle used to be one of my favourite authors. I adored t
A. Mary
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-novels
It's no secret that I love Roddy Doyle and everything he writes and think he's a genius. This book just makes me more certain that I'm not wrong. Almost right from the start, eight pages in to be exact, the unease begins to creep into the peripheral vision. It wriggles around, while Victor Forde tells his story, the story of his very interesting life as a writer, as husband to the successful Rachel. Something's not quite comfortable, and it expands, makes Victor notice it, reject it, and finally ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This is one of those books that is difficult to review in any depth without spoiling it for others, but here are just a few very general thoughts. There are many of the ingredients you’d expect from a Roddy Doyle book, brilliant banter for one and this is just as entertaining as ever, the pub atmosphere too is spot on. The story seems fairly straightforward to begin with - a middle-aged man at a crossroads in his life, moving back into the area he grew up in, reflecting on his life and all the ‘ ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If I had to choose a favourite book for 2017, I’m pretty sure it would be this one. Roddy Doyle’s Smile is a welcome return to form by the master of bittersweet black comedy, dialogue and drama.

It’s one of those novels you begin, thinking it’s about one thing — a middle-aged man picking up the pieces of his life after his marriage breaks down — only to discover by the denouement that it is something else entirely, something more emotionally powerful and disturbing, something that makes you want
Elaine Mullane || At Home in Books
Roddy Doyle's latest protagonist, Victor Forde is 54 and newly separated from his long-term partner, Rachel. He is living in an apartment complex and spending his evenings in his 'new local', Donnelly's Pub. Forde tells us that he dropped out of college to write music reviews, then became an outspoken radio star while trying (and failing) to pen a book on the ills of Ireland, before finding national fame with TV chef Rachel as she brought her hip catering business to the forefront of what is tre ...more
Kathryn Bashaar
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Victor Forde is newly separated from his partner of over 3 decades, living alone in an apartment in Dublin near where he grew up. One evening at the pub, he is approached by a man who calls himself Ed Fitzgerald and claims to know Victor from their years in a Catholic boys' high school in the 1970s. Victor doesn't initially remember Ed and feels uncomfortable around him.
The books shifts back and forth between Victor's current life as a newly-single man trying to make new friends, and his memori
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wasn't sure of this book - had been to a launch event, where the author's demeanour had been very different from that which I had seen in previous interviews, and I'm beginning to wonder whether this was due to the fact that this was a very different book to that which he would usually be promoting. Still trying to process the ending, but suffice to say, you're not going to get too many laughs in this book. Lifted it during the recent papal visit to Ireland, a decision which proved to be pretty ...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

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“There’s a joke I heard years ago, about an Irishman who ends up on a desert island with Claudia Schiffer, after a plane crash. There’s just the two of them, sitting on the sand. After a few days of this, she moves closer to him. ‘Do you wish to ride me, Dermot?’ she says. ‘Jesus, Claudia,’ he says. ‘Like – are you sure?’ ‘Yes,’ she says. ‘We will be here for quite some time, I think. And the days are quite long – yes?’ So, they start riding. All day. And Claudia falls hopelessly in love with him. This goes on for months until one day, the Irishman stands up and moves down the beach a bit and sits by himself. Claudia gets up and follows him. ‘Dermot?’ she says. ‘Is something the matter?’ ‘Ah, sure,’ he says. ‘I’m just a bit down in the dumps.’ ‘Is there something I can do to help?’ she asks him. ‘Well,’ he says. ‘This might sound mad. But would you mind if I called you Des?’ She looks at him, then says, ‘Alright. I will permit this.’ ‘Great,’ he says. ‘Brilliant, thanks.’ He’s holding a piece of charcoal that he found on the beach. He shows it to Claudia and he says, ‘And, like – would you mind if I drew a moustache on you?’ And she looks at him again, and says, ‘Alright, Dermot. This, too, I will permit.’ ‘Ah, great – thanks.’ He draws a rough moustache on her, then stands back. Then he grabs her shoulders, shakes her, and says, ‘Des! Des! You won’t believe who I’ve been riding for the last three months!” 1 likes
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