Review: The Commitments | Roddy Doyle’s Opening Act is No ‘One Hit Wonder’

The Commitments
Roddy Doyle (1997)

Dubliner Jimmy Rabbitte takes his love of American soul music to the next level by forming “the world’s hardest working band” from a ragtag collection of working-class amateurs. As he schools The Commitments on James Brown and Wilson Picket, the band—including a middle-aged Lothario on trumpet, three girlhood friends working on their backup moves, and a lead singer with a rock star ego—begins to gel and is soon selling out gigs across town, fulfilling their mission to bring Soul to Dublin. But just as success looks imminent, Jimmy struggles (as band managers so often do) to keep personalities in check and the band together.

The Commitments is a snappy, quick read full of streetwise dialog and music that sings off the page. This debut novel is the first installment in Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy (followed by The Snapper and The Van, both terrific) and recently revisited in the author’s 2013 release, The Guts.


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