Sometimes the most popular books don’t work out for everyone. Here is my experience.
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed, and darkly observant. A college student and aspiring writer, she devotes herself to a life of the mind–and to the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi, her best friend and comrade-in-arms. Lovers at school, the two young women now perform spoken-word poetry together in Dublin, where a journalist named Melissa spots their potential.
Drawn into Melissa’s orbit, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband. Private property, Frances believes, is a cultural evil–and Nick, a bored actor who never quite lived up to his potential, looks like patriarchy made flesh. But however amusing their flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy neither of them expect. 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 even with Bobbi. Desperate to reconcile herself to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances’s intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new: a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment.
After reading Normal People, I thought I should give this one a go.
In all honesty, for me, it was ok. I really enjoyed the themes that Conversations With Friends touches on – especially how frankly it discusses periods. The commentary on how friendships can struggle as we grow older and change will certainly will resonate with people and be an eye opener to those hanging onto something that is slowly fading away. Additionally, the theme of middle vs working class is excellently explored.
Unfortunately, my enjoyment of these themes did not translate to the characters that carried them. None of the characters were particularly likeable but I did feel a bit of a connection with Frances. I found her to be extremely self conscious and lacking confidence, and part of a one-sided friendship with Bobbi. However, she was also very egotistical and self-absorbed. While I’m certainly not a believer that every character needs to be likeable, there was something about the characters in this book that took away from my overall enjoyment of the story.
At the same time, I found Conversations With Friends to be an excellent piece of literature. It just didn’t hit like Normal People did.
Conversations With Friends is available to buy now.