We have all been there with literature. The pressure of reading the classics gets too much or you traipse through another boring chapter of a non fiction book just because you think it will make you better in yourself. Get yourself out of this reading rut by reading Sally Rooney’s first novel, Conversations With friends: the book you read when you want to watch TV.
Recently becoming a household name, through the highly successful TV adaptation of her second novel Normal People, it is safe to say that this woman has cracked the code in storytelling. Tell a story that is real and relatable and it seems you may be onto a winner with Conversations With Friends.
Normal People displays teen angst, first love and first heartbreak; emotions that many go through in their early adult life. Conversations With Friends, whilst straying from this lulling familiarity, reads just as well and is also soon to be made into a TV series like Normal People.
What is Conversations With Friends about?
Following the lives of Bobbi and Frances, Conversations With Friends is about the dips and troughs of two budding writers. Lured into the creative adult community by, Melissa, journalist, and Nick, actor, these two 30-or-so established individuals appear to give these young women a glimpse of ‘adult’ life.
Flashing them with an insight to the high life, Mellissa and Nick exemplify a future the young women both desire and detest; month long holidays in the south of France, drinking great wine and discussing fine literature. Beautiful. Far cry from the stereotypical student living of cheap booze and drinking from wine glasses that don’t match.
The drama, the crossing of love and the similarly every-day quality of this book is what makes it read with ease. Rooney’s language is casual. You are talking to a friend here, and she is not fluffing you with fancy words or elaborate punctuation. Simply email threads between lovers and conversations between like-minded people. Easy reading.
A book that is also like watching TV?
There is something about it, television. It gives something that a book does not, it is the ability to watch after an 8 hour stint at work and you simply want your mind to switch off. Reading a book seems like more of a stimulant. More of a chaotic chore that requires mind power to chug along.
Conversations With Friends is not like that. Sally Rooney has crafted a masterpiece of calming relaxing verbal chortles creating the illusion that you are watching television.
Ever read a book in three days? Ever read a book ever? Do you want to get into reading but find yourself reaching towards Dickens, or Bronte, or even Austen? You churn through the first few chapters and it is – to say the least – a mouthful. And, often unrelatable.
Sometimes we need to connect to a book to distinguish ourselves away from the stresses of life. In reality, I have no idea what it would have been like to live in Georgian England, and neither do I have even the remotest idea what it’s like to have an arranged marriage. Modern day writing talks about the now, you, the us.
This is a love story (of sorts)
It is hard to read this book and ask yourself the question, is this Sally Rooney’s first novel? This novel displays lesbian relationships, dynamics after break ups, being friends but having sex. Normal People, was made into a tv programme first, it follows the story of a boy and a girl who met in high school and then their love is depicted through words and on screen.
I will not discredit Normal People – but it is, slightly frustrating that Conversations With Friends was not chosen first to become a TV series. It is a love story but a complicated one so maybe that is why. Normal People seems to be easier. Whilst Connell and Marianne are choppy, there is not much of those two being friends. Bobbi and Frances were together and then stopped having sex and started having conversations as friends. It breaks the boundaries of those hairy break ups where there is no chance in hell that you want to speak to that person again.
Ex’s can be friends and Sally Rooney exemplifies this. It is a complex love of friendship and romance, once between two women who appear to be figuring life out at first, following older people’s movements in order to establish a stability in their own life.
Sally Rooney perfectly encapsulates the complex dynamic of relationships in Conversations With Friends. Nick and Frances, Bobbi and Frances, Nick and Mellissa, Frances and Melissa. Every combination of the main characters appears to flicker in and out of love with ease.
Even Mellissa and Bobbi, two characters who appear to be disjointed still express love for one another. Melissa is in love with Frances’ fresh youth and Frances with Melissa’s wisdom.
Frances appears to dip into various complex love triangles, with her love for Nick appearing to be the most consistent. He is almost a guide to her. But one that often comes across as manipulative and taking advantage of her youth. After all, Frances words it perfectly herself: ‘he has all the power and I have none’.
Despite such deep relationships that appear as love, there are cross overs. Frances clearly gains things from one person but not the other. Can you love multiple people at once? One person for their mind, another for their body and one just because you always have? Or is this just straight gluttony?
Leave the rut and love books again
The hole that you have been digging for the classics gets bigger as you yearn for a new literary love. I know it’s hard to comprehend the concept of a book being JUST as easy to read as watching Sally Rooney’s Normal People. The vast majority of you have probably already watched this anyway. Buy yourself a new book, flood your minds with words rather than images and make the visuals up yourself.
With a new series around the corner of Conversations With Friends, get ahead and replicate that joy of watching a TV programme of a book you have already read. There is, in my eyes nothing better than watching a programme for the first time and you already know the story. Picking out the points they have missed and understanding the points of emphasis. Whether you agree that that kiss was as passionate as its been made out.
It is time to leave the rut and love books again. Begin a journey or continue a new one with Sally Rooney’s first piece of a very welcomed career. Book one of the cycle of her published life. Book one of friends, conversations, love, and relatability.