Our latest book was Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud. Set in Trinidad, it tells the story of the irrepressible Betty, her shy son Solo and their gay lodger, Mr Chetan, who Betty takes in following the death of her abusive husband. This is an unconventional, but happy, household until one night Solo overhears Betty and Mr Chetan and revelations which split the family. Solo flees to his uncle in New York and Betty is left to cope with estrangement from her only son. Meanwhile Mr Chetan goes in search of his first love.

This month’s meeting was hosted by Debbie Payne who writes:

We were a small group, which made for some interesting discussions on various themes that came up in the book on love, friendship, self-harm, mental health, domestic abuse…

Most of us loved the book, although one or two struggled with the Trini dialect/patois – I think most of us found the patois quite charming once we became used to it, it added authenticity to the story. We found the story plausible, funny, sad and graphic in parts. We also saw how dangerous and lonely it is to be gay in Trinidad: “simply being me is illegal, immoral and perverted…” Mr Chetan remarked.

We felt that Solo’s reaction to the revelations, and subsequently his running away to NY and then declining mental health, weren’t so surprising. We wished that Mr Chetan could have made the trip to New York to try to explain things to Solo. In the end, Solo needed time and the experience of real life, with all its challenges. He had been a shy, quiet boy, a mummy’s boy and had led a very sheltered life up until moving to New York.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read. The book also made me feel quite hungry for the Trinidadian food at times!

Our future reading list is as follows:

Nov     Frostquake                                         Juliet Nicolson

Dec      The Dalai Lama’s Cat                          David Michie