Thank you to all of those who came to my inaugural event to celebrate the publication of my novel at Turn of the Corkscrew, Books & Wine in Rockville Centre, NY. Here are some candid shots of a wonderful night!
Edward Byrne’s poignant novel, Love’s Not Over ‘til It’s Over, is a sweeping saga depicting fifty years of the Devlin family’s life in Queens. Byrne deftly relates the struggles that World War II veteran Dave must confront, and how his life choices resonate with his children, particularly his son, Jimmy. This compelling journey of one family’s challenges and triumphs is a great read. Byrne easily creates a strong sense of place and sympathetic characters whose success we root for. –Carrie Doyle Karasyov, author of the bestselling book, The Right Address
Families can be life’s greatest blessing or its worst curst. Love’s Not Over ‘til It’s Over will engross readers with a multigenerational tale of blessings lost and found. Spanning nearly five decades in an everchanging New York City, the novel pulls back the curtains on family life, revealing how hurt can turn to forgiveness and even acceptance. Edward Byrne writes with both insight and empathy, drawing characters that will stay with readers long after the book is finished. —Mary W. Quigley, author and professor, New York University, Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism
Byrne takes you on a young man’s vivid journey through the shifting sands of a cultural revolution. The strong Catholic upbringing of a kid from Queens, New York collides with the values of his WWII veteran father and the changing world of the 1960s and beyond. A must-read for Baby Boomers. –Prof. Mary Noe, College of Professional Studies, St. John’s University
From Net Galley:
Edward T. Byrne has crafted a saga of love, family, and human growth during wartime in his novel, Love’s Not Over ‘Til It’s Over. Exploring themes of faith, forgiveness, and fate, Byrne’s work is an epic undertaking of an Irish family in the 20th century.
The book follows the journey of James Devlin and his family and friends throughout his life. Burdened by the expectations of his father, WWII hero Dave Devlin, James struggles to find his own identity during the Vietnam War without widening the generational divide between himself and his parents. As we follow him from his birth and early childhood in Queens, to college in Maine, and onward to a burgeoning law career, we watch as he tries to fulfill himself during a time in which obligations to faith, family, country, and manhood weighed heavily on the shoulders of a young man.
Byrne’s novel is a 300-and-some volume dancing with enough content to fill hundreds of more pages. As the author weaves together heavy messages of love, forgiveness, destiny, and family, he gives us a glimpse into the tension of growing up amidst history repeating its own war-torn self. James fights a battle of watching his friends go off to war, while internalizing his father’s disappointment that James isn’t committed enough to do the same. He fights to stay close to his family, even when they disagree most fervently with his life choices. Byrne narrates a coming-of-age story in which James is thrown into a complicated and insightful historical setting, while simultaneously dealing with the mundane challenges of becoming a man.
Byrne has crafted an impressively inclusive saga, that spans just shy of a century of political and sociological conflict. The journey of his cast of characters is extremely thoughtful and full of intent; no detail factored into the story is without purpose. The story is powerfully driven by techniques flashbacks, which connect the motives and scenes together to lend weight to the decisions of the characters, as well as eloquent, thematic statements. Byrne has no shortage of poetic quotes to choose from when reinforcing his motifs: “I was never tortured by what ifs. I knew how it felt to get exactly what you asked for.” “ War was like that. One of the few things you could depend on. It would happen all over again.” “…you’re at the mercy of the people you love.” The novel is successful at creating these concise morals of the story; they help to provide structure to an otherwise huge amount of plot content.
The novel takes on a lot of concepts, and could probably benefit from being a much longer book. While dealing with an abundance of huge themes and historically-motivated plot points, the book is forced to move fast. Many scenes lose their impact because they are over as soon as they were introduced, and when Byrne ends a scene, he really ends it, frequently jumping ahead months and years to the next relevant event in James Devlin’s life. Perhaps because of the quick pace, or because of the historical aspect, much of the novel feels very procedural: the book prefers to tell, rather than show. Many action scenes are explained away quickly, and much of the character thoughts are narrated in a very expository way. As the story jumps from one point to another without letting anything sit long enough to sink in, it often feels like there is no driving conflict. We are not reading toward anything. There are small climaxes woven in, but at no point did the book feel like it reached its peak.
The book does well at only including dialogue and moments that are crucial to understanding this life journey. However, the different characters seem to blend together; the non-distinct voices often had me questioning if I knew the characters at all. Would James really say that as a teenager? Would he really think that way as a child? Despite traveling throughout his entire life, the character of James Devlin was a difficult one to relate to. Much like the book juggles too much for its own good, so does James. He is a Catholic, a good student, a fraternity brother, a sports star, an underdog, an alcoholic, a lawyer, and despite loads of questionable luck and success, is somehow still painted as an awkward outsider. I’m not saying that someone can’t be all of these things, but it is a little overboard for a novel that is also trying to create a historical context and juggle the lives of many other characters.
My biggest trouble with the novel came at the end. As we see James has become an ambitious lawyer, his past meets his future as an old friend appears to assist with a huge securities case, involving an old arch enemy. I’m a sucker for full-circle plots, and I appreciated the action of introducing older characters at the very end of the book. However, much of this section evolved into a crime drama, ripe with law jargon and randomly interspersed with glimpses of James adult family life. At this point, I felt that I was reading a new book.
Love’s Not Over ‘Til It’s Over handles an impressive amount of spinning plates at once, and while they never seem to drop, the act becomes a little tired each time a new plate is added. In a style truly reserved for epics, we trace James Devlin’s entire life, his decisions, and the consequences to play witness to the development of a young man in wartime. While the novel might get confused in what it wants to be, moving quickly from war saga to life story to law procedural, it leaves us with a good amount of adages, reminding us of the value of love and family. “Maybe love’s like baseball, Pop…It’s not over ‘til it’s over. Maybe it’s never over, no matter what.” Thank you to NetGalley and Sixby Literary Company for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
I read your novel over the Christmas break and had difficulty putting it down. You are a superb writer—a lesser adjective would not do justice to your formidable abilities. …I was so caught up in the psychological complexities of James’s character that I was prepared for a story that ended either without a resolution or one that was not neat and tidy. And then I hit the very bottom of page 275 and froze. I stopped reading…Of course, I was reading a novel. And an exceptionally fine one. High praise for a writer when a reader can say he totally lost that sense. – Dr. John Tricamo, Chairman of the English Department, Regis High School, New York, NY.
***For fans of Alice McDermott and Colm Toibin, Edward Byrne’s Irish-American saga is richly written and deeply felt: I dare you to not shed a tear while reading it. Set in Queens from the 1950s on, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time as the details of the eras unfold with the story. The Devlin family has its share of hard knocks but their faith, their bonds, and the moral center of the book– James Devlin– keep them together and moving forward in the right direction. If you like family dramas and New York settings, if you enjoy very authentic Irish-American period detail, or if you just enjoy gorgeous writing, pick up this book! —Liz Carey
***A fresh new author addresses universal struggles within our families and our souls, makes you reconsider what counts most on our brief journey through life. –G Papa
***Dave Devlin is a WWII veteran racked by guilt because he could not save his buddy, Johnny D’Amato, at Peleliu in the Pacific. A psychological wound he carried for the rest of his life. His son, Jimmy, adored his father until it came time to serve. Dave felt that his son could “pay for his sins” by serving with distinction. With a high draft number and ambitions to be a lawyer, James had no desire to fight and maybe die in southeast Asia. The men became estranged.
***This is a novel about DISAPPOINTMENT and what it does to fathers and sons. For James, the son, it aroused feelings of unworthiness as he drank too much, did too much weed, and sought vengeance on all he thought wronged him. For Dave, the father, disappointment brought on feelings of despair and guilt that ultimately led to him being estranged from his two kids and abandoning his wife.
The novel is not perfect. It can be episodic and lose itself in nostalgia. The female characters are very slim. But, as far as mining a rich vein of pain for a generation of men who are becoming grandfathers themselves, it hits the mark like an arrow to the soul. –Paul J. Kelly***This is a great book for those who can appreciate a serious, thought provoking read. It is the story of an Irish-American family, the Devlins, from Queens, New York. Although it is set in the 1950’s and beyond, the actual story begins with the experiences of James Devlin’s father, Dave, on the beach of Peleliu during World War II. Dave is considered a war hero, (but not by himself-he blames himself for his best friend’s death) and is from a generation that believed war was a duty to be performed without questions. This lays the groundwork for one of the major conflicts in the novel and comes to a head with the arrival of the Vietnam War. Dave views James as his proxy, who will go to war and somehow exculpate him (Dave) of his own perceived sins. James must handle the generational gap, the moral and ethical problems of a war he doesn’t believe in and at the same time find a way to save any relationship with his father.There are many other themes in the book that have to do with the travails of growing up, but the author was clever to subordinate them to the main overall themes (in my opinion) of the book which seem to be the relationship between fathers and sons and the concept of love and the premise that “love can never be eradicated once it truly takes root”.
The writing style of this author is descriptive but without becoming boring and burdened with too many details. The prose are laden with imagery: “The afternoon was stretching out, stepping on the evening’s toes”, and although the book is serious, numerous sprinklings of Irish humor are to be found throughout.
The end of the book does feel a little like a Grisham novel (which I personally like), but it was done with purpose and was necessary to tie all of the loose threads together. Another theme of this book is about making choices. At the very end, we see a glimpse of James’s married adult life. Again there is a choice to be made and it is gratifying to see that we can, in fact, learn from our mistakes.
This book is well written and worth reading. It would be particularly good for book clubs.–Radman