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Conversations with Friends

Narrated by: Aoife McMahon
Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins
4 out of 5 stars (931 ratings)

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Summary

Frances is a 21-year-old college student in Dublin; she performs at spoken word events with her best friend and ex-lover, Bobbi. When they are profiled by journalist Melissa, they enter an orbit of beautiful houses and raucous dinner parties. Initially unimpressed, Frances begins an affair with Nick, Melissa's husband, which gives way to an unexpected intimacy. Desperate to reconcile her desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances's intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new: a disorienting way of living from moment to moment.

©2017 Sally Rooney (P)2017 W.F. Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"Forensically smart and pin-sharp witty, this is a book to cherish and a writer to fall in love with." (Thomas Morris, author of We Don't Know What We're Doing)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Great performance of a not so great novel

I know, I know. Sally Rooney, the voice of her generation. Bright new star etc. Maybe - almost certainly - it's not you, it's me, as the self-absorbed protagonist of this novel would say. I am not her generation and Rooney has nothing to say to me.
The fundamental problem with this book, set in a post-crash Dublin, is that there is no one in it that you care about. Frances, Nick, Melissa and Bobbi are all, in their own way, unpleasant.. Will Nick and Frances get back together? What happens to Nick's relationship? Where is Melissa? What about Bobbi and Melissa? In the immortal words of Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, "I. Don't. Care." I was just waiting for it to finish.
I feel bad for being so harsh on Rooney. She certainly writes with a stripped-back flair. Not one for flowery adjectives, her prose is sharp, elegant and witty, but ultimately, like her characters, cold and unloveable.
On the plus side, Aoife McMahon reads the story beautifully and has a voice you can bathe in.

70 of 75 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Self indulgent twaddle

I listened to this because it’s a book club read. It was well read but the content was navel gazing, self indulgent and pretentious.

43 of 48 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant narration

Aoife McMahon narrated this story brilliantly - she mastered all of the different voices in a way that made the conversations feel seamless and natural. I loved the story itself - it’s very different to “Normal People”, which I also loved, and felt completely original in its own right. It’s not action-packed, but devastating in the way it depicts the realities of growing older, love and your relationship to your parents. You

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Relatable taboos

Keeps you glued to the story, Sally Rooney describes taboo topics in such a relatable manner, I wasn't even aware certain feelings could get described with words so accurately. I didn't like it that the narrator put on a different voice to mimic a man's voice, it was distracting. The Irish accent however is a bliss to listen to.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Entertaining and thought provoking

It's another story about a writer and their emotional life. Yet for all that, this book is more real than predictable and resolves in more unconventional and thoughtful ways. Politics and ethics and self realisation weave in seamlessly. A very enjoyable and likeable listen.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Unlikeable tedious characters

The book has given me something to rant about for 5 minutes but that’s about it. In my view the writing wasn’t clever as some reviews maintain, it was childish and banal. The total lack of emotional maturity in any of the characters was quite disturbing and I wondered if that was intentional or a trait actually shared by the author in creating these idiots.

The two student characters were just the type of pretentious, juvenile people I couldn’t stand at university. Spouting feminism and extreme left politics while failing to do anything true to those beliefs and then avoiding all responsibility for anything shit that happens. Quite believable for a couple of 20 somethings I suppose. But there was no character development on these themes as the book went on. Neither seemed to learn anything from their experiences.

The older couple were equally as ridiculous, the ‘gorgeous’ husband basically having his cake and eating it by having two women on the go at the same time. Then getting away with it by supposedly not really realising what he was doing and acting all sensitive and helpless/hapless. I wondered if the couple were exploiting the students to start with which would have been quite believable and given the book a bit more dramatic edge. But as the book went on it seemed that they were too pathetic to even be capable of this.

So all in all I wasn’t actually sure of the point of any of the characters or the story, not that there really is one!

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Easy read; hard to swallow.

I really enjoyed this book despite finding almost every character irritating. I guess hats part of the point; none of them (or us) are supposed to be perfect. The political diatribe is a bit much to take though. Having said that, it reminded me of how I felt in my early twenties attending university - like I had to have strong opinions on everything. I think Rooney captures how complicated relationships can be and how hard it is to really know who you are.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Best character development I have read in a long time

An honest, modern depiction of how non-binary relationships are. Couldn’t stop listening and will have a real hole in my audio-life where these characters were!

The narration is so melodically Irish and a perfect cast for Frances’ voice I think.

Will read again, and probably something different away each time.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Try hard drivel

I can’t believe this book got such good reviews! It was painful to listen to.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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relatable but not radical

relatable, comforting, conventional prose like a mainstream rom com movie, but there were moments of witty description that were more idiosyncratic. I’ll forget it quickly but it was enjoyable. Read Maggie Nelson or Olivia Laing instead.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 14-05-19

Well written but disappointing book

I had high hopes for this book. The best I can say is that it is a well written story about nothing. Characters were narcissistic and not particularly interesting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tommilaitio
  • 14-08-19

feminist, sharp

i feel every man should read this novel. Rooney opens up an inner world alien to many men.

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  • Anders
  • 17-09-17

Like a Japanese restaurant without sushi.

A story keeping you alert to the end. Unusual good dialogue. So many writers fails there! I loved that it stuck to one singular theme, without to much surroundings, descriptions or flashing topics semi-relevant to the core of the story.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful