Sally Rooney’s (author of Normal People) third novel, Beautiful World Where Are You was our book for September. The novel is set in Ireland. Alice is a very successful and wealthy author who has been through a difficult period in New York and a nervous breakdown. She rents a remote house on the Irish coast where she develops a relationship with Felix, a warehouse worker. Alice’s best friend, Eileen lives in Dublin and works for a literary magazine. She has had a crush on Simon, a political assistant, since childhood. The plot is slim; the book is more an exploration of character. Whilst it is a romance, it is equally about friendship: between Alice and Eileen and also between Eileen and Simon.

Interspersed between the story are chapters which are emails between Alice and Eileen. These can be quite intellectual discussions of society and politics and can be hard to follow. They feel more like a mouthpiece for Rooney’s own views than part of the story. The character, Alice, also feels at times like a stand-in for Rooney, mirroring her extreme success and sudden rush to fame. If you loved Normal People, you will most likely enjoy Beautiful World Where Are You, if not, this probably isn’t for you.

Our future reading list is as follows:

Oct      Love After Love                                   Ingrid Persaud

Nov     Frostquake                                         Juliet Nicolson

Dec      The Dalai Lama’s Cat                          David Michie