Reminiscent of Bonfire of the Vanities in breadth and cast of characters, Byrne has written a family drama about the complex bond between a son and his father, a WWII combat survivor. Following WWII, Dave Devlin became an advertising executive haunted daily by what he’d seen during battle, and carrying guilt for the death of his comrade. James, his young son, who once was his father’s shadow, distanced himself as he got older, and the disintegration of the family follows.
Set primarily in Queens, New York in the late 1950s and 1960s, and Manhattan in the 1970s and early ‘80s, the story traces James Devlin and the relationships in his life, from a young boy to a married man, but it is the relationship with Dave Devlin that changes, from first putting his father on a pedestal to angering him by his reluctance to go to Vietnam, a war he feels is much different from his father’s war.
The topic of sports is a running theme throughout Love’s Not Over ‘til It’s Over, as well seeking the answer to the question, what does it mean to be a man, not just an Irish Catholic man? James struggles with a genetic predisposition for alcohol, drugs and his own demons. Instead of going to Vietnam, James attends college and gets a law degree, eventually prosecuting an insider trading conspiracy that has reunited some characters from his past while posing both personal and professional dilemmas. James ultimately concludes, quoting Yogi Berra to his father, “Maybe love’s like baseball…It’s not over ‘til it’s over.”