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Conversations with Friends: A Novel Hardcover – July 11, 2017
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SALLY ROONEY NAMED TO THE 2019 TIME 100 NEXT LIST • WINNER OF THE SUNDAY TIMES (UK) YOUNG WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD • ONE OF BUZZFEED’S BEST BOOKS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY VOGUE AND SLATE AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BUZZFEED AND ELLE
Frances is a coolheaded and darkly observant young woman, vaguely pursuing a career in writing while studying in Dublin. Her best friend is the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi. At a local poetry performance one night, they meet a well-known photographer, and as the girls are then gradually drawn into her world, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and handsome husband, Nick. But however amusing Frances and Nick’s flirtation seems at first, it begins to give way to a strange—and then painful—intimacy.
Written with gemlike precision and marked by a sly sense of humor, Conversations with Friends is wonderfully alive to the pleasures and dangers of youth, and the messy edges of female friendship.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD
“Sharp, funny, thought-provoking . . . a really great portrait of two young women as they’re figuring out how to be adults.”—Celeste Ng, “Late Night with Seth Meyers Podcast”
“The dialogue is superb, as are the insights about communicating in the age of electronic devices. Rooney has a magical ability to write scenes of such verisimilitude that even when little happens they’re suspenseful.”—Curtis Sittenfeld, The Week
“Rooney has the gift of imbuing everyday life with a sense of high stakes . . . a novel of delicious frictions.”—New York
“A writer of rare confidence, with a lucid, exacting style . . . One wonderful aspect of Rooney’s consistently wonderful novel is the fierce clarity with which she examines the self-delusion that so often festers alongside presumed self-knowledge. . . . But Rooney’s natural power is as a psychological portraitist. She is acute and sophisticated about the workings of innocence; the protagonist of this novel about growing up has no idea just how much of it she has left to do.”—Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker
“This book. This book. I read it in one day. I hear I’m not alone.”—Sarah Jessica Parker (Instagram)
"A Conspiracy of Mothers" by Colleen van Niekerk
From a bold new voice in literary fiction comes a compelling story of three mothers whose lives intersect during a generation-defining period in South Africa’s history. | Learn more
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From the Publisher
|NORMAL PEOPLE||NORMAL PEOPLE: The Scripts|
|MORE BY SALLY ROONEY||An Emmy-nominated Hulu original series. Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship & love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t.||Delve deeper into the Emmy- & Golden Globe–nominated Hulu series based on Sally Rooney's bestselling novel with this must-have collection of the Normal People scripts, featuring behind-the-scenes photos & an introduction by director Lenny Abrahamson.|
“The self-deceptions of a new generation are at the core of Sally Rooney’s debut, Conversations with Friends, which captures something wonderfully odd-cornered and real in the story of an Irish millennial.”—Megan O’Grady, Vogue
“A bracing, miraculous debut.”—The Millions
“Sally Rooney’s debut novel is a remarkably charming exploration of that very uncharming subject: the human ego. . . . Conversations with Friends sparkles with controlled rhetoric. But it ends up emphasizing the truths exploding in the silences.”—Slate
“Rooney’s exploration of growing out of naïveté is true to life, sometimes painfully so, and anyone who has thrived on created drama, who has imagined higher stakes than exist, will see a bit of themselves.”—BuzzFeed
“An insightful look at what it’s like to be young, smart, and deeply confused about friendship and love . . . It’s like an Ask Polly letter in the form of a novel, in the best possible way.”—The Cut
“Rooney expertly captures what it’s like to be young today: the conversations flow seamlessly from email to text message to unspoken glance, the sexual and creative confidence, the admiration for older men who write emails written in all lowercase. Her first person narrator, the twenty-one-year-old Frances, is a constant, careful observer, and yet Rooney leaves room for the reader to see all the things Frances herself does not.”—The Paris Review
“In this searing, insightful debut, Rooney offers an unapologetic perspective on the vagaries of relationships . . . a treatise on married life, the impact of infidelity, the ramifications of one’s actions, and how the person one chooses to be with can impact one’s individuality. Throughout, Rooney’s descriptive eye lends beauty and veracity to this complex and vivid story.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Readers who enjoyed Belinda McKeon’s Tender and Caitriona Lally’s Eggshells will enjoy this exceptional debut.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“A smart, sexy, realistic portrayal of a woman finding herself.”—Booklist (starred review)
“[Sally] Rooney has managed to take something old, the romance novel, and make it new: Frances is a bisexual communist student, allergic to expressing emotion, and her love affair is with a married man, and yet the book makes no attempt to make a moral stand on fidelity or punish its characters for their passions. The effect is, frankly, riveting, and creates a peculiar sensation of danger. An addictive read.”—Rufi Thorpe, author of The Girls from Corona del Mar and Dear Fang, with Love
“Sally Rooney’s writing is cool, wry, and smooth and gives the reader a sense of being in the lucky position of overhearing not only what fascinating strangers are talking about, but also what they’re thinking. I was riveted ’til the last page.”—Emily Gould, author of Friendship
About the Author
- Publisher : Hogarth; First American Edition (July 11, 2017)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0451499050
- ISBN-13 : 978-0451499059
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #60,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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I don't always have staying power with books, but I read this one from cover to cover in a few days. I didn't agree with Frances' choice in the end, and I loved the fact that I felt invested enough to care. I wanted to go with her through to "The End". The dialogue was wonderful, and I ate up the book -- not just because of the chemistry generated between the characters, but because on a mechanical level I wanted to study "how the author did what she did" -- so many scenes were pitched just right, compelling, and exquisite. The storyline stays wonderfully tight and on-point, and follows a logical sequence, with each emotional development building on the last. At about 2/3rds of the way through, the protagonist reaches an acute level of misery, and I admittedly found it a bit harder to read. It was hard on an emotional level (which is great -- no reason the author shouldn't put us through that, if it's the truth!), but my own tiniest criticism is that I think the storytelling could have dialed back on the statements of misery. The first 2/3rds is so beautifully stark that the way Frances' breakdown is told feels like a shift in diction. (But then again, weren't we all agonized and angsty in our early 20's? In that sense, Sally hit the right note, one that most of us shy/squirm away from!!)
Brilliant book, and I felt viscerally and sensually within the narrative the entire time (deeply cringing when I read Melissa's long email, as if it was directed at me... or watching Frances wearing the sports coat, looking like a "candle"... etc. etc.) I will read it / flip through it again just to study it more. Loved how it was both physical and highly cerebral, and adored the intimate and frank look at women's sexuality and health as well. Incredible accomplishment, and I am excited to see what she writes next!!
This novel asks you to inhabit the mind of a 20-something young woman as she goes through a series of friendships that threaten to become relationships and relationships that descend back to friendship. And everything in between. Occasionally it dips its toe in deeper, far-reaching systems, but--like so many of us do in real life--these are tangential rather than foundational, at least in how we prioritize them.
Reading this book, I tended to want it to be something more than it was, but at the same time its self-limiting was refreshing and, more importantly, the entirety of its point. In a world where we tend to see ourselves in the most grandiose of ways, this book reminds us just what reality looks and sounds like. At least from this narrator's perspective.
And for that alone, it's worth the time to read.
Top reviews from other countries
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.