This is an angst-ridden novel about four people, two couples actually, in their late twenties, still trying to work through what they want out of life and love.
Alice, a well-known novelist meets Felix, a storeman in a warehouse in a small beachside town. She invites him to come along on her book tour in Italy and a relationship form between these two unlikely people. Her best friend Eileen has just come out of a relationship and is flirting with their mutual friend Simon.
This is the third Sally Rooney novel I’ve read and I picked this one up because I primarily like her writing. The writing, however, in this novel left me a little cold as I found it quite monotone and mechanical.
‘At twenty past twelve on a Wednesday afternoon, a woman sat behind a desk in a shared office in Dublin city centre, scrolling through a text document… At one o’clock she told her colleagues she was going to lunch, and they smiled and waved to her from behind their monitors.’
Large sections of the novel were relentlessly like this, sometimes with one-page paragraphs and no dialogue tags. I don’t mind that so much but it was what was in those paragraphs which turned me off. The only relief was the dialogue and email exchanges in first person between Alice and Eileen.
Eileen is unhappy and has loved Simon since she was a teenager. He loves her too but there is a lot of heartache as we wonder why these two just can’t seem to get together.
Felix is a curious character often inadequate in the company of the other three but difficult to get a handle on. I found myself wondering why Alice was with him and the relationship between them just didn’t ring quite true as we never seemed to get right into remote and wooden character of Alice.
I wasn’t actually compelled by Alice and Felix’s characters and would have put this one down yet somehow, I plodded on hoping for some resolution or character development or even plot, perhaps. The sex scenes became repetitive serving little purpose in driving the relationships forward. The philosophical and opinionated discussions on the world, climate change, the bronze age and so on offered up little to make me feel anything for the characters. I was curious about Alice’s mental health but it skirted the discussions.
I just couldn’t connect with this one.
Thanks for that, Dot.Â I’ll give it a miss. Pierre.
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Yes I don’t think you’d like it all.