One of my favourite books that I have read so far this year is Sally Rooney’s award winning second novel, Normal People, so I was keen to read her first book, Conversations With Friends.
Set in Dublin, Conversations With Friends is narrated by Frances, a twenty-one year old student and aspiring writer. She is best friends with Bobbi, with whom she used to be in a relationship, and the pair perform spoken word together. It is through their performances together that they meet Melissa, a journalist who, after interviewing them, becomes a friend. Frances and Bobbi soon find themselves drawn into the world of Melissa, her actor husband Nick, and the lavish lifestyle they enjoy. There is a contrast between the two pairs as the students find themselves in the company of an older, married couple who are accustomed to a different way of life consisting of beautiful homes, dinner parties and holidays abroad. As the story progresses we see how the relationships between the quartet develop, as Rooney explores the complexities of human relationships, as Frances and Nick in particular find themselves drawn closer together…
As with Normal People, there is something about Rooney’s writing that draws me in and I quickly became immersed in the characters world and found this to be a compelling read. The characters each have an authentic voice, as we get a glimpse into their lives and the way in which these lives become entangled together. There is an honesty to their stories and the way in which the writing captures human emotions, as it explores the complexity of love and friendship, and jealousy. We see the cracks appear in the bond between Frances and Bobbi as they get closer to Nick and Melissa, and as they find themselves in a grown up world, as they try to blend into a fresh environment, and to be unfazed by what they find there. This results in some issues for the twosome and for Frances in particular as she finds herself battling with her feelings and her emotional and physical wellbeing, as the bond she shares with Nick gets stronger, and she tries to keep her emotions under control. I read on in interest to see how events would unfold as the relationship between the four of them overlap, and we see the challenges they each face as they reflect on their shared pasts, and learn more about each other, and themselves.
Conversations With Friends is a well written and addictive read which provides a sharp, honest portrayal of human relationships and interactions as the lives of its characters become further intertwined. This was another enjoyable book from Sally Rooney who has become a writer whose work I will be eagerly anticipating.