Faber & Faber May 2017
Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed and observant. A student in Dublin and an aspiring writer, at night she performs spoken work with her best friend Bobbi, who used to be her girlfriend. When they are interviewed and then befriended by Melissa, a well-known journalist who is married to Nick, an actor, they enter a world of beautiful houses, raucous dinner parties and holidays in Brittany, beginning a complex menage-a-quatre. But when Frances and Nick get unexpectedly closer, the sharply witty and emotion-averse Frances is forced to honestly confront her own vulnerabilities for the first time.
Late to the party with Sally Rooney I know, this is an author who I had seen all over Instagram and I’m pleased to say this book lived up to the hype. A character driven novel following the life of Frances, the writing is in the first person voice of her. The book description tells you the detail you need to know, this is a book about complicated emotions and has a ‘coming of age’ feel to it as Frances embarks on a journey of self learning, particularly through her relationships with Nick and Bobbi.
For me the characters were incredibly engaging. I liked the cool and aloof Francis as well as the charismatic Bobbi. The glamour of Nick and Melissa was tangible and their appeal to Frances and Bobbi was evident and obvious. Exploring issues of wealth, affluence and capitalism, both girls are idealistic and arrogant in the way only youth can be, but equally they are willing to live off their parents, without acknowledging this contradiction. For Frances this brings its own challenges as she hides the shame of being ‘not rich’, coupled with an unreliable alcoholic father.
This is a book about love and the complexities of relationships and what love can be. It is about youth and growing up and has touches of loneliness and struggling with feelings. The writing brought the characters to life, cemented by lots of dialogue, which doesn’t always work but here it did.
I will be picking up Rooney’s other book, Normal People very soon as I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend it highly.
About the Author
Sally Rooney was born in 1991 and lives in Dublin, where she graduated from Trinity College. Her work has appeared in Grants, The Dublin Review, The White Review, The Stinging Fly and the Winter Pages anthology.