Sally Rooney’s debut, Conversations with Friends, is a fascinating portrayal of the transition from youth to adulthood. This tale approaches contemporary issues in a unique manner considering the impact of broken relationships, mental health and financial worries.
The protagonists, Frances and Bobbi, are drawn into an adult world by Melissa, a photographer and member of the local Dublin elite. The duo are former lovers and now close friends. Initially the characters grate but as they are developed, this becomes less relevant and important.
Frances and Bobbi ultimately foray into an inner circle which includes Melissa’s husband, Nick, an actor. Bobbi is enamoured by Melissa, whilst Frances becomes closer to Nick. The relationships that are forged and fractured provide the crux of the novel. It is about the complex ways in which people engage. Rooney’s ability to provide a depth to all four main characters through Frances’ lens is impressive. The characters can be unpleasant but also engaging and intelligent.
The novel seamlessly incorporates issues affecting health, mind and body. It is not without its flaws but well worth a read. A bright novelist and a brilliant debut.