Like its title implies, Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney encourages us all to speak, share our feelings, and delve into our experiences. Set in Dublin, this novel follows twenty-one year old Frances and her former girlfriend/current best friend/artistic partner, Bobbi, when they form a bond with an older couple—Nick and Melissa—at a literary event. As the two are drawn closer into a world of adulthood, lust, and jealousy, Frances and Bobbi are forced to confront the often difficult complexities of their relationship. Their relationship is even further frustrated when Frances becomes sexually involved with Nick and begins an affair with him.
This book presents wonderfully unflinching characters; these people are unapologetically themselves and refuse to bend for a plot. Our narrator is self-consumed, impolite, and often cruel, but we accept her this way. Frances, Bobbi, and Nick—through dialogue and specific detailing—are richly characterized and provide a dynamic that is constantly at a boil: hot, steaming, threatening to spill. With their interactions, not a single word is wasted; each scene is pulled taut with tension.
Though the central characters are effectively utilized for the conflict, at times it seemed secondary characters were forgettable. Because of the fantastically rapid moments with Frances, Bobbi, and Nick, other scenes with a series of minuscule characters felt slow and lengthy. They were going twenty-five on a highway. Despite this, the events in this story are unique, thoughtful, and interactive. They flow consistently like a stream, pushing through the rocks and stray branches. But, beyond metaphor, they force us to consider our own relationships. This novel asks us: Who are you? Who are your friends? The end of Conversation with Friends is one that cements in your memory. By the final sentence, you will feel both optimistic and twisted. You have just indulged in a delightfully sugary cake, but can now feel it sitting in your stomach. You will be questioning why things and people exist in the way that they do, but you will do so happily.
You can purchase a copy of Conversations with Friends here.