Ita Doyle: 'In all my life I have lived in two houses, had two jobs, and one husband. I'm a very interesting person.' Rory and Ita, Roddy Doyle's first non-fiction book, tells - largely in their own words - the story of his parents' lives from their first memories to the present. Born in 1923 and 1925 respectively, they met at a New Year's Eve ...
Ita Doyle: 'In all my life I have lived in two houses, had two jobs, and one husband. I'm a very interesting person.' Rory and Ita, Roddy Doyle's first non-fiction book, tells - largely in their own words - the story of his parents' lives from their first memories to the present. Born in 1923 and 1925 respectively, they met at a New Year's Eve dance in 1947 and married in 1951. They remember every detail of their Dublin childhoods - the people (aunts, cousins, shopkeepers, friends, teachers), the politics (both came from Republican families), idyllic times in the Wexford countryside for Ita, Rory's apprenticeship as a printer. Ita's mother died when she was three ('the only memory I have is of her hands, doing things'); Rory was the oldest of nine children, five of them girls. By the time they put down a deposit of two hundred pounds for a house in Kilbarrack, Rory was working as a compositor at the Irish Independent. By the time the first of their four children was born he'd become a teacher, at the School of Printing in Dublin. Kilbarrack began to change ('it wasn't a rural place any more') and Ireland too. Through their eyes we see the intensely Catholic society of their youth being transformed into the vibrant, modern Ireland of today. Both Rory and Ita Doyle are marvellous talkers, with excellent memories, so combined with Roddy Doyle's legendary skill in illuminating ordinary experience, it makes for a book of tremendous warmth and humanity.
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Publishers Weekly, 2002-09-23 While Doyle is a well-regarded screenwriter (The Snapper; The Commitments) and novelist (Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha), here he seems to have done little more than hold the microphone, as this is actually his parents' book. Such nonintervention might be wonderful, were his folks entertaining raconteurs or at least people with rich experiences to relate-but alas, Ita and Rory are neither. While the publisher bills their memories as an "oral history" of the "quintessential twentieth-century Irish experience," the account is little more than a lackluster story of a mundane couple whose families were neither rich nor poor. Both attended school, dated and married, bought a house, raised a family, retired and then moved on to coping with old age. They rarely concerned themselves with anyone outside their village and extended family, only discovering the rest of the world when Rory retired and they traveled. Such insularity occasionally produces endearingly innocent remarks, such as newlywed Rory's exclamation when he learns Ita's pregnant: "I didn't say, `How did that happen?' but I had only a vague idea." Now and then, the account offers insight into lifestyle changes over a single generation, as when Ita reflects on her 1940s girlhood and realizes there "was no such thing as teenagers, so it was up to yourself how you got on between the ages of thirteen and twenty." As such gems are buried under many pages of smalltown gossip, Doyle's fans may wish the talented writer had chosen a different format for celebrating his parents' story. Photos. (On sale Nov. 11) Forecast: Based on Doyle's popular and critical acclaim, this book should be a trendy holiday choice for literary readers, and it will be reviewed widely. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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