Conversations with Friends (2017): Sally Rooney


Sally Rooney’s debut novel was a phenomenon. It got people talking, tapping into the zeitgeist in a way that catapulted it onto bestseller tables and lists. Now it’s on the verge of being turned into a BBC series. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid reading it until now; not a conscious choice, I hasten to add, but simply the accident of having too many books and not enough time. It was worth the wait, though I must confess that my primary emotion on finishing it was relief that I am no longer of Frances’s and Bobbi’s generation. How exhausting it all seems in retrospect: the relentless posturing; the confusion of sarcasm with chic; the vulnerability of not yet knowing who you are; and the conviction that identity can only be discovered by taking on the world alone, anew, afresh. And how perfectly Rooney writes about that awkward age of self-definition, following two robustly vivid protagonists through a heady, sun-drenched summer. A delightful, very modern comedy of manners; but comedy in its darkest, most ironic hue.

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