BOOK REVIEW: Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
BEING SILLY. This book review is pretty verbose so when my husband @thejoeprocess and I went to SM Seaside last week, I brought my book along to take random photos that we could think of to accompany this post.
Hello fellow Hivers and readers! I promised more book content and today, I’m dishing a book review.
If you’re a #booktube or #bookstagram lurker like me (it could also be #booktok but I haven’t joined Tiktok), then you probably would have come across any of the books by Sally Rooney. She is so hyped on all those platforms because people either love or hate her books.
So far though, I see more LOVE than hate.
Anyway, despite being famous on social media book recommendations, I only learned about Sally Rooney when I read a short story of hers from The New Yorker titled Unread Messages. I loved it so much that I searched for what else she had written. That’s when I discovered how famous she was!
BOOKS & COFFEE. Our favorite coffee place is The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. After running errands, the husband and I indulged in our hot drinks of choice and a cheesecake.
Her debut novel, Conversations with Friends, was published in 2017. Aside from being considered for prestigious literary awards, it became more famous because it is one of Taylor Swift’s favorite books. Yep, queen Tay-Tay!
It also turned out that the short story I read was a sneak peek of her third novel called Beautiful World, Where Are You. I was so thrilled upon learning these tidbits that I decided to buy a physical copy of Conversations with Friends and her second novel, Normal People to prepare for the release of the third book. (As of this posting, the third book has already been released. Publication date: September 7, 2021)
Since this is a book review of Conversations with Friends, I would spill some parts of the novel--so that means spoilers! If you’re planning to read this book and do not want to be spoiled, I will specifically place a warning for you on when to stop reading.
We went to a secluded part of the Seaside grounds to take more photos.
The book is centered on four people: Frances and Bobbi who are ex-girlfriends (now best friends), and Nick and Melissa who are a married couple. The book is told from Frances’ point of view and it follows her relationships with the three other mentioned protagonists.
Prior to reading, I think one of the most important things you should know is that Sally Rooney does not use quotation marks in her dialogue. As in nada, ZERO! This is the first novel I encountered that did that so it was pretty disorienting. I had to reread paragraphs a couple of times because I was confused whether it was an internal dialogue or whether the characters were speaking it out loud to each other. It took me a couple of chapters before I could get used to the style.
Posing with the book at golden hour.
The second thing you should know going in is that Sally Rooney is Irish and the novel is set in Dublin. Not that big of a deal, but if you’re usually a reader of American fiction, this tidbit could be helpful in setting the different scenery and some aspects of the book.
Finally, if you’re used to structure in the books you read--be prepared because this book is more character- than plot-driven. Therefore, nothing really happens! What does that mean?
It means that instead of a formula, (famous example: the meet cute > the falling in love > the rom-com montage > the conflict > the big proclamation of love > happy ending), the book instead follows the complexities and experiences of the characters. It has a real life feeling as you read, because just like real life, our stories go on.
Conversations with Friends is not your typical romance story.
THE SPOILER-FREE REVIEW
Now for the main review. I say that I recommend this book! I don’t trust myself to give star ratings though so you could check out Goodreads for that.
Anyway, even if romance is not usually your style, Conversations with Friends is a well-written piece of fiction that’s easy to read. Rooney writes beautifully and the story just flows easily.
Posing with the book at Tokyo Tokyo where we had lunch. Totally unrelated, but Japan is one of our dream travel destinations.
I think this book is best suited for you if:
You like well-developed characters and appreciate the depiction of the imperfection of humans
Posing with the Sally Rooney books while waiting for our orders.
However, I think this book is NOT a good fit for you if:
You prefer structure and fast-paced writing packed with big moments.
This is where my spoiler-free review ends. STOP READING NOW if you do not want to be spoiled about key elements of Conversations with Friends. Feel free to check out the rest of this post when you’ve read the book.
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS (you’ve been warned!)
If you’re still reading this part, it means one of three things: a) you’ve already read the book, b) you’re not planning on reading it, or c) you want to read it but you don’t care about spoilers.
All good? Okay, let’s dive in.
I loved the book mainly for its characters. I think my favorite is Bobbi, mostly because of her views on life and her personality. Contrary to that, I found Frances, Nick and Melissa just annoying. I get that their flaws are what makes them realistic, but reading through their drama just irritated me.
For example, one of the biggest things in the book is that Frances and Nick have an affair. For context, Frances is still a university student while Nick is a 30-something actor. If you’re uncomfortable reading about stuff like that, best to skip this one since the affair is central to the story. Because of that affair, there are also steamy scenes in the book so if that’s also something you’re not comfortable reading, best to stay away!
Told my hubby to pose with me as if we were deep in conversation. Haha
Of course, in whatever genre, there are always good depictions of imperfect characters and this book is one of them. It’s just that the characters of Frances, Nick, and Melissa can really be annoying to read.
The ending is also pretty “meh” and anticlimactic for me and it just made me roll my eyes instead of rooting for the characters. After months of staying away from each other, Frances decides that she wants to go back and rekindle her and Nick’s affair. And they only had that conversation because Nick wrongly dialed her number. Like seriously? How lame. Oh, well.
Overall, it’s not a book that will stay with me for years to come. I’ve finished reading Normal People though, and that’s way better than Conversation with Friends. (At least for me).
Sally Rooney’s other book, Normal People. I found that I like this better than Conversations with Friends.
If you’re still reading this part of my blog post, let me know: Did you read this book? Are you a fan of Sally Rooney? What did you think of Conversations with Friends?
Comment your thoughts so we can talk about it!
Just some normal people doing silly things.
Also, before you go! This book is currently in development to become a series. Yay! What’s even more interesting is that Joe Alwyn (Taylor Swift’s boyfriend) has been cast in the role of Nick and Jemima Kirke (Hope in Sex Education) will play Melissa. Exciting times!
Until my next post. See you!