I absolutely loved reading Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney and stayed up far too late to get to the end. Rooney writes so beautifully and so intelligently (see also my blog on Normal People) that when you read her sparing sentences they bring such clarity and feel so perfectly right that you wonder why no-one else has managed to grasp that this is the way to capture the world.
Alice is a successful young novelist recovering from a breakdown in a small town in Ireland, writing to her friend Eileen who is a decade into working at a literary magazine in Dublin. Alice isn’t currently writing but is required to go on various trips to promote her last book, and she takes Felix, who she met on Tinder, along with her on a trip to Rome. Eileen is fed-up, and is leaning on her old friend Simon, who is always there to provide support when she needs it. Eileen and Alice write regular long emails to each other (which feels rather old fashioned in today’s world of texting) and in between reading those, we spend time with each of the two women.
Neither is satisfied and both are horrified at the state of the world and are trying to find their place in it and are wondering if and how they might change it. Meanwhile their relationships with each other and with Simon and Felix are developing and being tested, as the novel builds to its crescendo, when they all get together for a weekend by the sea.
It’s a fantastic read and just leaves you wanting more.