Conversations With Friends
By Sally Rooney
Faber & Faber
Frances is a cool-headed and darkly observant young woman, vaguely pursuing a career in writing while studying in Dublin. Her best friend and comrade-in-arms is the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi. At a local poetry performance one night, Frances and Bobbi catch the eye of Melissa, a well-known photographer, and as the girls are then gradually drawn into Melissa’s world, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband, Nick. However amusing and ironic Frances and Nick’s flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy, and Frances’s friendship with Bobbi begins to fracture. As Frances tries to keep her life in check, her relationships increasingly resist her control: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally, terribly, with Bobbi.
For months all I have seen hype about is Sally Rooney, I really wanted to read her novel Normal People, but felt I had to read one of her previous books to see if I liked her style. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Conversations With Friends however I really did enjoy it so Sally Rooney is living up to the buzz around her.
The novel is based around a 21 year old girl Frances. She is a poet but other than that she doesn’t really know what she wants to do with her life and she doesn’t really know who she is. Her previous relationship was with her best friend Bobbi, they are not together during the book but are still friends and perform poetry together.
The book is very much a low drama and character study about Frances. You delve into her home life, her parents are divorced, her father a raging alcoholic who can’t look after himself very well. She doesn’t have many friends, quite the loner. But takes a liking to a married man.
Although nothing much happens in this book, I really liked the complexity of Frances’ character. I liked her sense of humour, wit, self consciousness and style. I didn’t agree with all her choices she made but she is a 21 year old. This book is pretty artsy, modern and has lots of layers from friendships, to love affairs, self belief, illness and careers.
There are a few things I didn’t like with the book, when Frances and Nick begin their sexual affair, she comes to his bedroom every night. With a house full of people I just thought it was ridiculous that no one noticed for such a long time. Also I understand Frances’ dad was an alcoholic who was shown as a bad father but she didn’t seem to care about him at all, all she cared about was her “allowance” which I also thought ridiculous being 21, grow up and get a job and stop relying on your father who is clearly ill and depressed.
Conversations With Friends was a modern read about relationships and friendships. It isn’t something I would read again but I will still go on to read Sally Rooney’s Normal People.
Have you read any of Sally Rooney’s novels? Did you enjoy reading them? Katie x