Title: Love After Love
Author: Ingrid Persaud
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Genre: Literary Fiction
On the surface, Love after Love by Ingrid Persaud seems so direct a novel. A novel about three people and their lives unravelling, page by page. It is about family and loss, about silences, and worlds that collide and find a balance in a weird manner that sticks and stays. And yet it is so much more. Way much more.
Love after Love is about the shy, reticent man Mr. Chetan who moves into Miss Betty’s house where she resides with her young son Solo. The story is set in Trinidad and is about different kinds of love, maybe that’s why we all can relate to it, at some level or other. There is immense self-reflection, to the point of it perhaps becoming a bit much, but it is needed. We all are human, and these quiet inner monologues are necessary to perhaps move ahead.
Betty Ramdin has suffered for years at the hands of her abusive husband. Till he suddenly dies one fine day. She then takes in a lodger, Mr. Chetan, a profound, decent man, who not only becomes her best friend, but also family, and a father figure to Solo. They get into a routine of living – cooking, gardening, and together raising the child, using this as a way to get rid of their loneliness, and cope with life. Till, an incident takes place that changes their lives forever.
Persaud’s writing is honest and sublime. She plays with language, by not following rules, and I loved that about her writing. There is a sense of comfort in knowing the characters and their lives – as the details are revealed slowly, as the plot follows its own tune, and leaves you wanting more.
This book shows you aspects of the Trinidadian life that are full of gossip, domestic bliss (mostly) or not, community acceptance or rejection basis sexual orientation, worshipping certain gods or not, and more. Food plays such an important role in the book – it is almost a central character in so many ways. The title of the book is taken from one of my favourite poems by Derek Walcott, only to reflect on and show us what love is, what its limitless possibilities are, and how sometimes love is just what it is – uncomplicated, simple, and in so many ways elegant and forgiving.