Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I started this book, I was so confused, I had to go back once I had a better handle on the characters. Chapters alternate between narration of events and emails about the same events, but it always takes a while to figure out which female character is writing, because, I'll say it, they sound so much the same. Probably not so much different from the author's own voice.
I liked the idea of friends staying connected with long, philosophical emails, like back in early email days or when everyone had a Livejournal. But in this case their forms of communication almost serve to isolate them from one another, to excuse their introversion, and this does lead to some pretty significant misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
There are two male characters as well, and while they are present on practically every page, they aren't the point of the novel, even if the women are always adjusting in relation to them.
I'm one of the people who loved Normal People and didn't care about all the people who hated it. Still I waited a good bit of time before reading this one so I could enjoy it in my own corner. But then I didn't really enjoy it that much. There are a lot of pieces here but not really a structured plot. Events happen but they aren't the central events of their lives, although we do get a hint of those. I also feel like Eileen reads like a variation of Marianne from Normal People. Marianne is actually more social!
Still, it's not often I find a book about friendship between people in their 30s and 40s and at least that's part of it. There is also an epilogue of sorts that places the characters during the pandemic. As with most epilogues, was that needed?
I will not speculate on how I think this will do in the Tournament or Books (it's on the long list.)
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