Review: Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

Exciting Times tells the story of Ava, a 22-year-old who leaves Ireland to teach English as a foreign language to children in Hong Kong. There she meets Julian, a British banker who she begins to spend most of her time with. Later, Ava meets Edith – a local lawyer, who was educated in England before attending the University of Cambridge.

We zoom in on the protagonist, Ava, as well as Julian and Edith. It’s about relationships of all kinds – friendship, love and the spectrum in-between. 

The writing is slick and fresh – I’ve not read anything quite like it before.  Having lived abroad in my early twenties, at a similar age, I felt this novel captured the strange feeling of entering a new environment, away from family and friends. You’re catapulted into an unfamiliar place. The way in which Ava has to navigate this new place resonated despite her very different experiences.  

Exciting Times also considers pertinent societal issues. The focus is on Ava’s close yet often strained relationships in Hong Kong. Yet, in the background, there is an exploration of political and social issues from Brexit to attitudes on abortion and homosexuality. 

Exciting Times is a fabulous debut – a witty and clever novel that I breezed through. 

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