- Reps: bi/pan MC, wlw supporting character, bi supporting character.
- TWs & CWs: self-harm, sexual content, mental illness, anxiety, infidelity, medical content, alcoholism, toxic relationship, infertility, chronic illness, panic attack, vomit.
- Version française: Conversations entre amis, éditions de l’Olivier.
- Niveau VO: facile.
Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed, and darkly observant. A college student and aspiring writer, she devotes herself to a life of the mind–and to the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi, her best friend and comrade-in-arms. Lovers at school, the two young women now perform spoken-word poetry together in Dublin, where a journalist named Melissa spots their potential. Drawn into Melissa’s orbit, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband. Private property, Frances believes, is a cultural evil–and Nick, a bored actor who never quite lived up to his potential, looks like patriarchy made flesh. But however amusing their flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy neither of them expect. As Frances tries to keep her life in check, her relationships increasingly resist her control: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally even with Bobbi. Desperate to reconcile herself to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances’s intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new: a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment.
Dublin, de nos jours. Frances et Bobbi, deux anciennes amantes devenues amies intimes, se produisent dans la jeune scène artistique irlandaise comme poètes-performeuses. Un soir, lors d’une lecture, elles rencontrent Melissa, une photographe plus âgée qu’elles, mariée à Nick, un acteur. Ensemble, ils discutent, refont le monde, critiquent le capitalisme comme les personnages de Joyce pouvaient, en leur temps, critiquer la religion. Ils font des photographies, ils écrivent, ils vivent. C’est le début d’une histoire d’amitié, d’une histoire de séduction menant à un « mariage à quatre » où la confusion des sentiments fait rage : quand Frances tombe follement amoureuse de Nick et vit avec lui une liaison torride, elle menace soudainement l’équilibre global de leur amitié.
Mais Conversations entre amis n’est pas qu’une banale histoire d’adultère : c’est avant tout le portrait attachant, empathique, des jeunes gens contemporains, ces millenials qui ne parviennent pas à trouver leur place dans le monde que leur ont laissé leurs aînés. La voix de Frances, poétique, désinvolte, parfois naïve, d’une extraordinaire fraîcheur est, par de multiples aspects, celle de sa génération.
I have about a hundred things to say about this book. Conversations with friends is a perfect depiction of what it looks like to be a young adult. What it’s like to love when you don’t really know yourself or what you want or even if you love yourself. What it is like to live with parasite thoughts and a hundred things in your head, and you can’t even sort it out. But this book is also about relationships, their complexity and the fact there isn’t any ultimate good recipe to be in a relationship, to love someone. The fact that your love can be made for one person, or more, or none.
What I loved the most about this book is the way the author manages to make statements without ever being judgemental about anything or anyone. Every single character has their own way of seeing things and living, which creates very interesting conflicts between them. We follow Frances as she falls in love, but not really, as she is learning who she is, but not really, as her life gets messy, but not really. This book is about balance and in-betweens and how it feels to hurt someone and hurt yourself. Pain is a major topic of the book, and it takes multiple shapes. Chronic pains from chronic illnesses, the pain of the mind, the pain of the heart. The pain we produce in others, trying to minimize ours. The pain we inflict to ourselves, trying to not hurt anyone.
The story is as complex as its characters, which is the reason I can’t really tell you what makes this book so special. Maybe it is the way it’s written, with in-text dialogues that somehow immerse the reader even better in the protagonist’s mind. Maybe it’s the characters, their flaws and qualities, how they get along, how they don’t. Maybe it’s about the settings because Dublin and France are fantastic. Maybe it’s the messages behind it all? I don’t know, but I loved it.
When reading this book, a hundred ideas and reflections came to me. It led me to ask questions about myself, what I say and do, how I love, how I act. Am I dependent on my love? Do I love too much? Do I love the normal way? Do I feel things how I am supposed to feel them? Why, like Frances, I run towards pain every time my mind is on fire? This is the kind of books I want to read, the kind of book to put you in such a reflective state you just can’t get the idea out of your mind that the main character could as well be yourself. This is exactly what happened to me.
If you know me a little, you might be aware I usually hate reading stories with cheating in it. Because this is something I am scared of, something I do not want to read or think about, ever. And yet, here, I did not mind. Because cheating isn’t only about pulling two characters away from each other. It tells a story. A story of love, of lust, of desire. Of what it means to feel desired, to desire, to be confused about what we want. It is beautifully done and I even dare tell you that I might not find a book with such an interesting depiction of cheating ever again.
Maybe I am getting a little too philosophical here, but this book really did put me in a huge reflective state. I already mentioned it, but here is for another reason. A part of the story asks the question of why we do what we do, and why we some times react to things a different way than we would have wanted. Why some stuff hurt when we promised ourselves it wouldn’t anymore. And it does not give a proper answer -because there isn’t one-, it just gives us keys to understand this and ourselves better. People will always see what you are doing from their point of view, and if you don’t speak, they won’t ever have your reasons. So they can get mad, upset when you meant no arm. Maybe I am diving too far, but it is a perfect depiction of where this book took me while I was reading it.
At first, I didn’t think I would like this book this much, because I knew it was going to get me out of my comfort zone. And it did. And I regret nothing because it was a fantastic experience. I wish for all of you to find a book that will highlight some parts of yourselves the way this one did to me. I highly recommend you read this one if you’re in the mood for some reflective, emotional and intelligent story. Plus, it is less common to read about young adults (rather than teenagers) and that is something I deeply adored about this story, being a young adult myself.
- Have you read this one ?
- Have you read Normal People by this author?
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