Some people say that they are waiting with reading Conversations with Friends until a new book by Sally Rooney will be published. Now I know what they mean by that. But patience is not my first name so after reading Normal People in spring I simply couldn’t wait to read more of Sally Rooney books.
The story seems to be simple and no so revealing in the fiction world but at the same time, it is catchy and painfully true which makes this book so good.
The narrator is Frances - a young and talented student at Trinity College in Dublin. She is performing spoken word poetry where she is a writer and Bobbi - her best friend from school and an ex-girlfriend - is the one who loves to shine.
They have summer holidays and after one performance they meet Melissa, a photographer and essayist who takes pictures of them for some publication. After the party, she invites them to her place – to a gorgeous home in the posh area of Dublin. She is wealthy and 36 which seems like a very old for her young friends. She is married to Nick - a handsome and a slightly younger than her actor who seems to have even more adult problems while growing up as a rich kid. But the girls don’t know yet anything about this couple except that they are wealthy, popular and cool. Bobbi is fascinated by Melissa and Frances proceeds towards Nick.
Can that all end up well or all will blow up I am not going to give you a spoiler. The story itself is provoking and leaves a lot of place for speculations which I personally like a lot. But what is most iconic for Rooney’s writing is her class crashes. How Frances hates to be poor and how much she pretends that that does not matter to the point that she almost starves as she does not want to ask Bobbi for money. Or how she is fascinated by Nick making coffee of freshly grinded coffee beans while she is content of her typical for students instant coffee. Or a wooden floor in the house or his top quality jacket. But Frances is a master of hiding her feelings like nothing ever mattered to her and to everything she answers ‘sure’.
It is a Frances who is a narrator but she is far from describing her emotions, there are lots in between lines either in her actions like ringing Nick in the middle of the night when she was in a hospital but yet she pretends that still everything is cool and she does not mind people hurting her. She tries to hurt herself maybe to make her feel like “normal people” or to punish herself for letting to have any feelings whatsoever. To start writing again and mainly just to earn some money she writes a story. But when her best and only friend Bobbi discovered this, she said that she “learned more about [Frances’s] feelings in the last twenty minutes than in the last four years”.
Maybe this is only a way for Frances to show some affection in her creations on the pages, not in a real-life, maybe this is her protective wall? Maybe going into an affair with Nick is her trying to break this wall and letting her emotion steer a bit? They both meet in perfect or fatal time with each other but for sure both Nick and Frances needs some shakeup in their lives and that at least they could offer each other.
I like Sally Rooney style of writing, frugal but clear. There are no many descriptions but explicit presentations of facts and minimum words dialogs, which I adore, therefore, this writing suits me a lot. It shows also that there is no need of many words to dig deep inside people’s feelings and show their sensitivity. Conversations with Friends is painfully honest and simply great book.
I can only write that I love it even more than “Normal people” and I cannot wait to read more books by Sally Rooney.
Find my review on Goodreads.
Reviewer: Monika Barrera
Review rating: 5/5
Date published: July 2017
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction