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Conversations with Friends: from the internationally bestselling author of Normal People Paperback – 15 March 2018
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From the bestselling author of Normal People, now a major TV series screening on Stan.
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.
Desperate to reconcile her inner life 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 marked by a sly sense of humour, Conversations with Friends is wonderfully alive to the pleasures and dangers of youth, and the messy edges of female friendship.
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About the Author
- Publisher : Faber Paperback; Main edition (15 March 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0571333133
- ISBN-13 : 978-0571333134
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The mind boggles, the currency cheapens, and all faith in pundits and the judgement of Zadie Smith goes right down the pan.
This is a truly, truly, dreadful book, almost fascinatingly so. Frances, supposedly "cool headed and observant", falls in love with an older, married man. It goes badly. Surprised? She apparently is. "I can't remember if I thought about this at the beginning. How it was doomed to end unhappily" is a line from about halfway through. Apart from the cringe-worthy triteness, it also reveals the lead character to be stunningly obtuse, and far from the "observant" person the blurb on the cover would have us believe. All the characters - Frances, her best friend/lover Bobbi, the journalist Melissa and the husband/lover Nick - are so flatly written they might as well be cardboard cut-outs, their dialogue equally flat and lifeless and dull, to the point that it became impossible to work out who's talking. It could be anybody, about anybody, about anything.
And then there's the prose itself -- it's....it's hideous, it really is. About halfway through I started making notes in the margins, underlining the worst passages -- something an editor is supposed to do. In no particular order: "His heart continued to beat like an excited or miserable clock" It...it what?? "Valerie spoke with a moneyed British accent, too rich to be comical". How does THAT work? "I perceived that my face and hair were becoming wet, too wet to feel normal"; "She looked clean and dry like a model from a catalogue. My hair was leaking water into my face". Leaking? "I laughed to myself, although there was no one there to see me". That's kind of what it means, right? "He never touched me like that usually. But he was looking at me, so I guess he must have known who I was". Wait, this woman's supposed to be "observant", right? And my favourite: "He touched me cautiously like a deer touches things with its face". Oh god, make it stop.
Seriously, this is supposed to be award-worthy? A tired story, hitched to some staggeringly dreadful prose which reveals nothing of the workings of the human heart, nothing of the soul, nothing of passion. Shame on the critics who have passed this off as something worthy, shame on every one of the publications whose glowing quotes litter the front pages of this travesty. I'm tempted to read Rooney's "Normal People" to see if it's as hysterically bad or if, by some miracle, she improved. If I come across a copy for less than a pound, I might just, but I'm not paying much more for this kind of nonsense.
The characters in this book aren't just badly written, I hated them all and they learned nothing from their experiences, they just repeated their loathing behaviour and terrible life decisions over and over again. The main character is so full of self loathing and yet completely self centred and so over privileged but treats herself like the endless victim of every situation.
I have no doubt that sally rooney can write, but these characters make me want to punch a wall.
The story goes nowhere and seems like it begins when it ends. I also didn't enjoy the conversation style without quote marks, it just made it unnecessarily difficult to distinguish between what characters were saying and what they were thinking.
Sorry I wasted my time reading it and I have no clue why it's so highly critically acclaimed.
Conversations with Friends is the story of four people and the shifting relationships between them. Frances and Bobbi are students in Dublin. Ex-lovers, they remain close friends and work the literary circuit as performance poets. Frances is introverted, a talented writer, while Bobbi is an extrovert, the more gifted performer. Melissa is a photographer who wants to profile the two young women. She invites them to a party at her home, where they meet her husband, Nick, completing the central quartet. Bobbi fancies Melissa, Frances is drawn to Nick.
As the story progresses, it shifts between Dublin and a holiday in France. Through the novel, each goes through ups and downs and the relationships between them are equally volatile. We also learn about their troubled pasts and present, especially Nick and Frances.
In a word, I thought it was terrific, absolutely terrific. I've read a number of more critical reviews and while I can appreciate a number (but not all) of the negative comments, I still think the book is terrific.
Is this a book in which none of the characters is pleasant? I would have to disagree with that. Frances is outwardly cold, snarky and aloof. But she is also insecure, damaged and sensitive. She might be difficult , but she isn't unlovable. There is one devastating scene near the end of the book where she is confronted by the difference between her own self image and the impression another character has of her.
It is true that this isn't a plot heavy book, but that isn't the point. This is primarily a book about relationships, and those relationships are superbly drawn. As the portrayal of friendship between two young women, that between Frances and Bobbi feels completely genuine and realistic. The sparks which fly between Nick and Frances generated by something between love and hate are thrilling.
The writing style is flat, functional, almost child like at times. Again, as the voice of this disengaged, alienated young woman that came across as completely authentic.
So, it a nutshell, this is a stunningly humane work about damaged, ambiguous, very human people.