Title: Conversations with Friends
Author: Sally Rooney
Pages: 304 Pages
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa ask each other endless questions. As their relationships unfold, in person and online, they discuss sex and friendship, art and literature, politics and gender, and, of course, one another. Twenty-one-year-old Frances is at the heart of it all, bringing us this tale of a complex ménage-à-quatre and her affair with Nick, an older married man. You can read Conversations with Friends as a romantic comedy, or you can read it as a feminist text. You can read it as a book about infidelity, about the pleasures and difficulties of intimacy, or about how our minds think about our bodies. However you choose to read it, it is an unforgettable novel about the possibility of love.
I have read Sally Rooney’s writing out of sync. I started with Normal People – which I enjoyed but thought was a bit of a victim of its own hype. I decided to read Conversations with Friends recently and now I think I get it.
Sally Rooney really does have a writing voice that exudes her talent with every single word. She manages to show the awkwardness of relationships – platonic, familial, and sexual. She frustrates you by the things that she doesn’t say and yet makes you feel compelled to read more.
The story of Frances and her relationships with the people around her are tumultuous and confusing. We watch her grow and develop but never quite being on the same level as her counterparts – whether this is due to age, experience, or social class is left for you to determine but you cannot but help root for her. You want things to end well or her even though you are distinctly aware that Conversations with Friends is not that kind of book.
My one issue with Conversations with Friends is the same issue that I had with Normal People. It is the stylistic choice to flout rules about speech marks. I prefer my books to have them. However, if that is the only complaint to find about a book then I guess that it is worthy of the highest praise.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney is available now.
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