• Smile

  • A Novel
  • By: Roddy Doyle
  • Narrated by: Roddy Doyle
  • Length: 5 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (110 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the Booker Prize winning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, a bold, haunting novel about the uncertainty of memory and how we contend with the past.

Just moved into a new apartment, alone for the first time in years, Victor Forde goes every evening to Donnelly's for a pint, a slow one. One evening his drink is interrupted. A man in shorts and a pink shirt comes over and sits down. He seems to know Victor's name and to remember him from secondary school. His name is Fitzpatrick.

Victor dislikes him on sight, dislikes, too, the memories that Fitzpatrick stirs up of five years being taught by the Christian Brothers. He prompts other memories - of Rachel, his beautiful wife who became a celebrity, and of Victor's own small claim to fame, as the man who would say the unsayable on the radio. But it's the memories of school, and of one particular brother, that Victor cannot control and which eventually threaten to destroy his sanity.

Smile has all the features for which Roddy Doyle has become famous: the razor-sharp dialogue, the humor, the superb evocation of adolescence, but this is a novel unlike any he has written before. When you finish the last minute, you will have been challenged to reevaluate everything you think you remember so clearly.

©2017 Roddy Doyle (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Smile is a novel that's as original as it is brutal, and as painful as it is necessary. Doyle asks us not just to consider the ravages of post-traumatic stress, but to feel them, or as closely as we can, anyway. It's his bravest novel yet; it's also, by far, his best." (Michael Schaub, npr.org)

"Has anyone written as beautifully as Doyle on how love and violence lean right up against each other in childhood? From the Booker Prize-winning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha to Smile, Doyle’s books bruise and cheer at the same time." (The Boston Globe)

"Doyle was determined to write a novel that shocked - and succeeded.... This is a performance few writers could carry off: a novel constructed entirely from bar stool chatter and scraps of memory. But you can’t turn away." (Ron Charles, The Washington Post)

What listeners say about Smile

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The conclusion will take your breath away.

To say that I Iiked Smile would be a wrong. Rather it gripped me. Doyle's narration is perfect. Few authors can pull it off--voicing their own works. Stephen King can, and Roddy Doyle can.
They share other attributes: an ease with natural dialogue, a knack for showing us their characters from the inside out, and an ability to subtly build suspense. And a talent for giving us endings as sharp as a switchblade.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Goes nowhere

I’m a fan of Roddy Doyle but this book was all details one minute and then big chunks of updates the next. Won’t recommend

4 people found this helpful

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  • 11-22-21

Doyle fan

Not surprising, this book is really good. Unexpected ending. I highly recommend listing. Nice to hear the author s voice.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

An interesting story, but hard to like characters

i did not have any connection or empathy for the main character and that made it difficult for me toblike the story. It may be partly my fault. I was hoping for a light and fun story set in a pub, this is not that!

1 person found this helpful

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Ignorance is not bliss

This is my first Roddy Doyle book. I did not know what to expect but was caught up in the writing and the language of Irish boys/middle aged men. While various facts of the story hinted at the ending I was too caught up in the efforts the “I” was making to build a new life to question why he was so much in need of the emotional support of his new surroundings. The reality of his life is still a mystery for me but one that can be imagined.

1 person found this helpful

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  • KO
  • 01-08-20

Outstanding writing, dialogue, and reading

This is one of the richest books I have read (listened to). Roddy Doyle is a masterful writer: of structure, narrative, character development, dialogue (among the best), flow, etc. What an amazing novel, and a great reading by the man himself. I wish that he would do readings of his other books. Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha is only available in an abridged version. Would highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Horrible Word Vomit

I kept waiting for an interesting story to appear. There was literally no point to this book. It was not interesting an full of poor writing. Basically, this is a pile of word vomit. Don't waste your time.

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Roddy Doyle strikes again

Roddy Doyle is known for dealing with serious subjects with his wry humor. I felt this book wasn't as strong as some others I've read and listened to. I applaud him for writing a book about what happened during the main character's school years and how it affected his whole life. I'm not sure why there are so many 3 star reviews and lower because I thought it was a strong 4.

There wasn't as much humor as most other books, but it was a compelling read. I will continue to listen to his books, especially when he narrates them for it really takes me to Ireland. I would thank him for tackling another tough subject.


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Vividly entertaining

This is a vividly and weirdly crafted novel, leaving one asking in the end, Where was the substance of this exquisite story? Doyle has a well tuned ear for dialogue and sensitive eyes and heart for people, so that his characters in this novel are round and alive. The story is visceral and ephemeral as Doyle unfolds the plot. This is an entertaining intriguing novel. Doyle’s performance is excellent.

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Masterful dialect Brilliant insights

I expected no less from this familiar writer. Still the dialect was so transporting, and the personal rumination so deftly chronicled, the character and his demons will live long in my consciousness. Brilliant!