Thursday, July 23, 2020

Review: Exciting Times

Exciting Times Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was really looking forward to this book because it had been compared to Normal People (please don't compare books like this, it sets the wrong expectations) but this was far from my experience. Where NP is angsty and violent, Exciting Times is reserved and full of feelings and thoughts almost expressed, but instead expressed only to the reader through drafted-but-never-sent text messages.

Obviously there is the old blessing, "May you live in exciting times." Halfway through the book I was pretty sure the title was ironic because honestly not much happens, a little more before the end of the book I guess. Ava teaches English to children in Hong Kong, which has some interesting ruminations because she speaks Irish English and teaching standard British English teaches her a lot about her language (if this does not sound exciting to you it's some of the most action that occurs) - she ends up moving in with a super rich Oxford graduated banker and they sleep together but he doesn't want people to know (also wants her to live with him, go figure.) When he goes elsewhere for a work reason, she gets involved with Edith, a lawyer born in Hong Kong. When Julian comes home, I guess this was supposed to be the exciting part as Ava is torn between two people, but it didn't really feel that dramatic. One person doesn't obviously seem to want her, and the other isn't willing to be one of three (this to me seemed a reasonable line to draw.)

Most of the steamy stuff takes place off the page, and emotions are inferred and not expressed (very British I guess.) Both Julian and Edith are workaholics and while Edith at least can express her feelings for Ava, both have different reasons to hide their relationships with her. Ava lives through Instagram stalking and imagining what she might say but doesn't.

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