The Truth About Love, By Josephine Hart

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The Independent Culture

In a small town in the middle of Ireland a young lad is experimenting with chemicals in the garden shed when he blows himself up. The startling opening moments of Hart's ambitious new novel take place in his fading consciousness as he makes one last attempt to connect to those around him.

The shock of his death leave his family consumed by guilt and grief. The subsequent story of the O'Hara family is related by several narrators including the boy's enigmatic sister, Olivia, a German neighbour Thomas Middlehoff – a man immersed in his own bereavement - and the boy's mother, Sissy O'Hara.

Romantic love and sexual passion are hallmarks of Hart's fiction, but here she considers a different kind of love - the kind that offers no consolation or reprieve. Being an Irish novelist Hart also reflects on love of country and clan, but the parallels are forced. It's the domestic tragedy that resonates to the end.