Author: Sally Rooney
Date Started: May 15, 2019
Date Finished: May 19, 2019
Overall Score (out of 10): 7.5
Frances and Bobbi, two women who have been friends for a very long time, and at one time were even lovers, spend their time working their respective jobs, and in their free time performing spoken word poetry at various locations throughout Dublin, Ireland. It’s through these spoken word performances that they meet Melissa, a photographer who wants to photograph them and write a profile piece on them. Bobbi is immediately entranced with Melissa and even tells Frances later, “I think I’m in love with her.”
Frances is more curious about Melissa, because she’s a famous photographer, and she’s married to a famous actor, Nick. We can tell that Frances doesn’t really want to be impressed with Melissa and her husband, but still enjoys the perks that working with her, and later being friends with her, affords.
At a dinner party one night, Frances has a conversation with Nick that leads us to believe she has a crush on him. Frances is the narrator of this book, and the reader sees everything from her point of view, so it’s pretty clear that Frances is lying to herself about her crush on a married man. They eventually start an affair, but they both are afraid of admitting any sort of feelings, so the writing becomes sort of stilted at this point.
I relate with Frances on a couple levels, because it seems clear to me that Frances suffers from a sort of social anxiety. She even states at one point, “I could think of nothing to say that wouldn’t make me feel unwelcome.” This tells me that she wants to be herself, but is afraid to do so because she’s scared people won’t like the real her. She’s not even sure who the real her is. She spends so much time being who she thinks people want to see that she has lost herself in the process. I’ve felt that way sometimes too.
This feeling of relatability with the main character is what has kept me from putting this book down and not picking it up again. Do I recommend this book? Conditionally. I recommend that you try to read it, because the plot is unique and well-told, but if you find yourself not enjoying it, don’t be sad if you can’t finish it.
The author uses very concise words, and wastes no flowery language in this book, but that almost makes it feel like a report. “So and so did this. I said that. I did this.” It’s very straightforward. I’m not used to that really in books I read, so it’s taking a bit of getting used to. I think the storyline, “girl falls for married guy and has an affair,” is overused but this author puts a spin on it that is different from other books I’ve read.
I have grown, maybe not to love this book, but to at least respect it. I probably will choose to never read anything by this author, because it was so difficult to get used to the way she writes, but I appreciate her particular brand of storytelling.