Impossible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodge, Mr Chetan, form an unconventional household, happy in their differences. Happy, that is, until the night when a glass of rum, a heart-to-heart and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart.
If you haven’t read this book, please take this as your cue to find a copy!! Not only is the front cover so incredibly beautiful but the story inside is just as amazing.
Throughout ReadCaribbean Month, I saw this novel everywhere.
Whilst this novel is an exploration of love in all it’s forms, this is Ingrid Persaud’s love letter to the beautiful island of Trinidad. I felt it. I heard it. I came to understand my own culture that I knew very little about. It left me in tears.
This novel reveals the different sides of each type of love:
- Eros: erotic, passionate love.
- Philia: love of friends and equals.
- Storge: love of parents for children.
- Agape: love of mankind.
The reader is shown how healthy some can be and how love can sometimes be destructive.
This novel explores the strength of love in wake of secrets and betrayal but it also emphasises the struggle with forgiveness. Whether that be forgiving those who have hurt you or yourself. There is danger in dwelling on past hurts. It can consume you to the point where you become obsessed with the pain. Loving yourself, in particular, means forgiving your past wrongdoings and allowing yourself to move on from that hurt.
What Ingrid Persaud emphasises is that there is a sense of freedom. An acceptance that only comes with forgiveness. But that it’s a process. A journey that will take a while to understand but it shouldn’t be rushed. Everyone’s journey to forgiveness is different and that’s something that should be recognised by all. But the key…will always be love.
There are some potentially triggering issues raised in this such as domestic abuse and self-harm. Please be aware of that before you read it. However, the dynamics between these characters warmed my heart and broke it at the same time.
The prominent reason why this novel resonated with me so much was because of how it delves into indo-Caribbean culture. I’m Guyanese but that part of my culture isn’t as well-known to me as my Jamaican side. I found out earlier this year that a family member of mine can speak fluent Hindi. It’s a side of my family that I don’t know very well. But I learnt so much about Indo-Caribbean culture from Love After Love. I’m sure that there are differences between Trinidad and Guyana but it was beautiful to read about
Betty was where I mostly saw all the truths of the Indo-Caribbean culture explored. I saw the beauty and the harder parts of it whether that be through food, religion or even her family. Additionally, Betty also revealed all the ugly truths of motherhood. I felt for her because all her decisions were to keep her son, Solo safe. It was only at a certain point did she start to focus on making herself happy. It was a humbling reminder that mothers tend to put their children’s needs before their own. At times, it is often something we overlook simply because our mother’s have been doing it our whole lives. She was flawed in her impulsivity but I think it was her dedication to her son, that made me like her. Her forgiveness came in the form of self-love. It was understood that she needed to forgive herself in order to move on from the past.
Solo was a different story. I struggled to like him but I could understand that he was struggling too. He was determined not to forgive his mother but it began to fester within him. You could see how obsessed he became with pain and my heart broke at how he attempted to deal with it.
I loved both their relationships with Mr Chetan, who quickly became the centre point of the story. Mr Chetan became almost like the bridge between the two characters and a focal point for their forgiveness. He was a character who struggled with self-love himself but he never revealed it to anyone around him. I found myself wishing I could sit on the bench and talk with Mr Chetan. Mr Chetan is probably my favourite character of the year. I adored his kind nature and his good heart. He is simply such a loveable character.
Love was clearly the connecting link to forgiveness and to accepting who you are. I’m sure forgiveness is a journey that we all experience differently. Some people may struggle with it more than others. Ingrid Persaud taught me that it’s okay to have these feelings as long as you don’t allow it to take over.
Most importantly, she reveals how life is unpredictable. We get comfortable with the way things are and suddenly, we’re thrown a curveball that we suddenly have to overcome. Sometimes it’s a huge one designed to teach us a lesson. Sometimes it’s only meant to push us gently to another path. Either way, we shouldn’t allow our past hurts to prevent us from reaching out to someone we love.
Allow love to take the lead – it will prevail.
Claire 'Word by Word' says
What a wonderful review and experience you had with this beautiful novel. I was so excited for this novel I saved reading it for a while, but now that it has won the Costa First Novel award, I’m so glad that many more people will get to read it. It covers so much and is written with such compassion, and I think it’s so great that it provides insights to those who have become disconnected in some ways to aspects of their culture.
Thank you so much and I completely agree! It’s such a beautiful novel about love in all it’s many forms! I’m really glad that it won the Costa First Novel award because it was an outstanding debut novel by Ingrid Persaud!