Beautiful World, Where are you
By Sally Rooney
Faber and Faber Ltd 2021
I am envious of Sally Rooney’s writing. In both Normal People and Beautiful World, Where are you, Rooney breaks rules.
I was aware as I read both these books that writerly rules were being broken, but I just wasn’t sure which ones. And the rule breaking had me questioning at times how much I actually liked the story. However, both with Normal People and her latest, Beautiful World, Where are you, I found myself thinking about the characters for days, weeks and even months after reading them.
So my conclusion is that I do like these books; perhaps I even love them. Although the untraditional story telling may make me a little uncomfortable or awkward at times, I develop a vested interest in what happens to the characters as if they were my own friends, and find myself wondering about them beyond the story on the page. A sign of a good book, surely.
In this latest novel, we follow two women in their thirties. Best friends who communicate by letter or email, they talk of their love affairs and losses. They explore existential ideas, insecurities, culture and developments within their work. When they meet up towards the end of the book, it seems that there are some bridges to cross. Their relationship in person is not as easy as their relationship in script. Rooney’s style is unpredictable and as the reader, one starts to fret that there will not be a happy ending.
The concepts and ideas discussed between the characters in this book are deep and thought provoking. The characters are relatable, yet their dialogue seems removed from reality. The narrator is omniscient, yet we are blocked from hearing and seeing absolutely everything, almost as if the spy cameras on these people’s lives got covered or muffled accidentally at certain points in the story.
For someone who enjoys analysing relationships, reading about love and going with the flow of an unusual storyline, this is well worth the read. And who knows, maybe there’ll be a T.V. series made about this novel too, which would be excellent I’m sure.
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As a lover of books and a teacher, I read widely. Here you will find book reviews of many genres including picture story, middle grade fiction, graphic novels, women's fiction, short story anthologies, non-fiction and anything else that takes my fancy.