A sharply intelligent novel about two college students and the strange, unexpected connection they forge with a married couple.
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.
Written with gem-like precision and probing intelligence, Conversations With Friends is wonderfully alive to the pleasures and dangers of youth.”
“You live through certain things before you understand them. You can’t always take the analytical position.”
For my first fictional audiobook I chose “Conversations with Friends” by Sally Rooney, a book I’ve seen all over the place recently and one that has been nominated for a number of prestigious awards. I felt that a book with conversations in the title seemed appropriate to hear rather than read and I think I was right!
Narrated by Aoife McMahon in soft Irish tones, this is the story of Frances, a twenty-one year old woman trying to find her place in an adult world.
Not a great deal actually happens in this book, it’s more of a conversational character study, exploring the life of Frances and those around her at a pivotal time in her life. Bobbi is Frances’ ex and best friend and I particularly enjoyed their friendship. When they are performing poetry one night, they are discovered by Melissa, a popular, wealthy photographer. Melissa’s husband Nick is around too and his flirtatious nature is difficult for Frances to ignore.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were flawed, but naturally so and if anything, this made me feel for them even more. The story is blunt at times, but is full of wit and things to make you smile. I’ve found more and more recently that I’m more of a fan of simply written books, without a great deal of description of waffle, and I think that this book is perfect for that.
I’ve read that a lot of people couldn’t get on with the writing style of this story, especially as the author doesn’t use quotation marks. My advice: listen to the audiobook and you’ll never know!
I’ve also just listened to (and loved) Sally Rooney‘s “Normal People”, keep you eyes peeled for a review in the near future!
Overall rating: “Conversations with Friends” was a wonderful story to listen to. I really enjoyed Aoife McMahon’s narration and Sally Rooney‘s writing style has me hooked too. This is a witty character study which I devoured in a matter of days – 5 stars!
See my other reviews of books by Sally Rooney here: