Book review: Service


Sarah Gilmartin

Faber Factory Plus

Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

For me, the old adage of don’t judge a book by its cover rings true for this wonderful novel because I mistook it for non-fiction and didn’t give it another look again for a long while. More’s the pity.

It is, in fact, a #metoo book that also gives the uncomfortable perspective of the narcissistic rapist.

The book tells the story of the dark side of the hospitality industry from the viewpoints of Hannah, a waitress, Daniel, a well-known chef, and Julia, his long-suffering wife.

Set in Ireland, the story starts years after Hannah has left the industry.

She meets up with an old colleague, Mel, who pleads with her to give her support to another former colleague who has laid charges against Daniel.

Hannah refuses. She has walled off that part of her life and is reluctant to visit that wounded place again but as the high-profile case plays out in the public eye – vilifying the victim and giving a tarnished, tragic hero status to the villain – Hannah is forced to confront the ghosts of her past and the reader is taken along for the harrowing ride.

On the flipside is Daniel and Julia who are enduring a hell of their own but it is impossible to sympathise with the obviously guilty Daniel.

Gilmartin does a good job of giving his cringey, deeply-skewed perspective.

Julia on the other hand is in deep denial. She struggles to keep up the public persona of supportive wife while feeling deeply mistrustful of Daniel and trying to protect her sons.

This book is gripping and uncomfortable in the ways that matter.