Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney

Second paragraph of third chapter:

At one o’clock she told her colleagues she was going to lunch, and they smiled and waved at her from behind their monitors. Pulling on a jacket, she walked to a café near the office and sat at a table by the window, holding a sandwich in one hand and a copy of The Karamazov Brothers in the other. At twenty to two, she looked up to observe a tall, fair-haired man entering the café. He was wearing a suit and tie, with a plastic lanyard around his neck, and was speaking into his phone. Yeah, he said, I was told Tuesday, but I’ll call back and check that for you. When he saw the woman seated by the window, his face changed, and he quickly lifted his free hand, mouthing the word Hey. Into the phone, he continued, I don’t think you were copied on that, no. Looking at the woman, he pointed to the phone impatiently and made a talking gesture with his hand. She smiled, toying with the corner of a page in her book. Right, right, the man said. Listen, I’m actually out of the office now, but I’ll do that when I get back in. Yeah. Good, good, good to talk to you.

Having hugely enjoyed both Rooney's novel Normal People and the TV series, I had very high hopes for her new much-hyped novel. I am sorry to say that those hopes were not fulfilled. It is a story of two young women friends and the two men they are in love with; none of them is particularly interesting, nobody does anything particularly interesting and they have no particular hurdles to surmount other than admitting their true feelings for each other. The detached third-person narrative voice also really annoyed me. You can get it here.

This was my top unread non-genre fiction book, and also my top unread book by a woman. Next on both lists is Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver.


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