Love after Love
Faber & Faber
Set in Trinidad, Love after Love centers around Betty, whose abusive husband died when their son was five; Solo, at first timidly quiet and later teenage and furious; and Mr Chetan, their gay lodger, best friend, and father figure. It unfurls between first person perspectives over a period of fifteen or so years, sometimes skipping forward several months; catching up on what’s changed feels more like getting drinks with a friend you’ve lost touch with than keeping up with a plot.
It’s never difficult to follow, though, as Persaud carefully catches the rhythms and idiosyncrasies of each character’s thoughts. Solo, out of his depth and depressed, thinks that ‘everything looked to be the same size. I felt I had shrunk like Super Mario after losing his mushroom.’ From Betty, we get a life predominantly defined by violence, loneliness and spurned motherhood: ‘we are forever getting more than we can bear. Always. It’s just that we don’t have a choice in the matter.’ And Mr Chetan’s heartbreak at being rejected by his closeted police-officer boyfriend is simple: ‘maybe love wasn’t for men like me.’
‘Home is where your navel string’s buried,’ Mr Chetan tells Solo, but the reality that’s drawn here is far more complicated: ‘People have all kinds of families.’ This one is fractured and shadowed, but the pages ultimately burst full, love after love after love.
Words: Alice Wickenden