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Beautiful World Where Are You by Sally Rooney - Review

Thursday, February 24, 2022

I really wanted to read Sally Rooney's new book as I enjoyed Normal People so much, so when I saw it in the Waterstones sale I snapped it up. I knew I wanted to get to it quickly. 

I struggled with the first part of the book and nearly gave up on it, but I'm glad I persevered as I ended up really liking it. Again, there's no speech punctuation which I personally find quite hard to get into, but once I do I find I dont mind it so much. I know it's a choice, but I personally find it difficult.

So the book is about four adults - Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon. Alice is a celebrated author worth at least a million euros. She has had some kind of breakdown so has left her native Dublin for a while is renting a house somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, somewhere with a beach right on the Atlantic.  

She meets Felix on Tinder and the two go for a date. It doesn't exactly go well - Alice is kind of cold and prickly and Felix doesn't really know what to make of her, but he takes her home and they make plans to see each other again. He is known as a bit of a 'bad lad' around the village. He works in a warehouse which he doesn't at all like, and there's hints that he used to do something else but now can't.

Across in Dublin are Eileen and Simon Eileen has been Alice's best friend since they were teenagers. She has had a recent breakup which she is upset about, but which Alice seems to think was the best thing for her as she wasn't very happy. She has known Simon since she was born - he is five years older and once worked on her dad's farm, which is when they got friendly. Eileen has a sister who is about to get married, who she doesn't really get on with. Simon works in politics, and he has a series of much younger girlfriends who Alice and Eileen are disparaging about. Eileen and Simon have a lot of flirtatious behaviour and sometimes sleep together.

Alice asks Felix to go with her on a book tour to Rome, which he does. The two sleep together too, and start a somewhat confusing relationship.

Throughout the book Alice and Eileen swap emails back and forth. They get quite deep - talking about art, beauty, life, death, religion, among other subjects, but they also seem quite jealous of each other and argue in their emails. But I do think their friendship shines through and I did like that.

I always feel very 'worthy' when I read a book like this, I generally do read what I like but every now and then I choose something that will push me, and this did. But I liked it and am giving it four out of five. 

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