Conversations with Friends Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Winner of The Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer of the Year.
Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize 2018.
Shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2018.
Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2018.
Shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award 2019.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018.
A Sunday Times, Observer and Telegraph Book of the Year.
A Sunday Times Top 100 Novel of the 21st Century.
Frances is 21 years old, cool-headed and observant. A student in Dublin and an aspiring writer, at night she performs spoken word with her best friend Bobbi, who used to be her girlfriend. When they are interviewed and then befriended by Melissa, a well-known journalist who is married to Nick, an actor, they enter a world of beautiful houses, raucous dinner parties and holidays in Provence, beginning a complex ménage-à-quatre. But when Frances and Nick get unexpectedly closer, the sharply witty and emotion-averse Frances is forced to honestly confront her own vulnerabilities for the first time.
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|Listening Length||8 hours and 33 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||01 June 2017|
|Publisher||W. F. Howes Ltd|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 151 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
6 in Literary Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
18 in Literary Fiction (Books)
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Reviewed in Australia on 8 August 2020
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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.