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Conversations with Friends Paperback – 1 March 2018
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- Item Weight : 265 g
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0571333133
- ISBN-13 : 978-0571333134
- Product Dimensions : 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
- Publisher : Faber & Faber (1 March 2018)
- Language: : English
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Top reviews from India
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I feel that I didn’t appreciate the theme of the storyline of the book because I crave for stability, trust and healthy relationships in life which helps you grow and not intoxicating, emotional roller-coasters that people look out nowadays and then call them as complicated.
It takes a deeper analysis of the nature and responses of these four people towards everything and each other. Like how one moves and responds to the actions or feelings of another.
What I feel that the book lacked is the depth, same what I felt for Normal People. Not once did I feel any connection with the characters. The characters were very flat and lacked self-esteem and to be honest, self-loathing was too much to bear. It’s just that none of us would ever know these characters because these characters do not want to be known.
“You underestimate your power so you don't have to blame yourself for treating other people badly.”
I was very confused with the character of Frances because as the book moves forward, Frances’ main conflict was that she is unable to allow others to see her vulnerability, to see that she cares for them or is hurt by them or even that she simply enjoys their company. She wishes to be cool and distant and people somehow find her to be lovely. I feel this is just “too complicated” to explain yet again.
It is a book with small instances of vulnerability, insecurity, humanity, and tenderness. The themes of the books, from my point of view, were loneliness and the need to connect with others and they were very poorly discussed or presented. You can feel how high the walls of these characters were just to protect them from falling apart again and at points, it just seems too much to take in.
The writing style of the author was not at all satisfactory. It kind of bored me. I didn’t see any exclamation point and every sentence of the book ended in a period or question mark. The words had no passion or depth at all, just plain and impassive.
This book just isn’t for me and I wouldn’t be suggesting this to my reader friends.
The novel is about the politics of love and friendship and also about class and family. It's a pleasure to read. It's hard to believe it's a debut novel.
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.