We all have multiple conversations with people but I highly doubt we take a second to realize how important they are for relationships. Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends is just about that.
Whereas her novel, Normal People, was about the development of one complicated and estranged relationship, Conversations With Friends follows an even weirder relationship.
Of course with Sally Rooney, there’s so much to unpack.
So, here’s my review of Conversations With Friends.
Weird & Complicated Relationships
Sometimes you don’t realize when you’ve put yourself into certain situations.
The protagonist of this novel, Frances, and her best friend Bobbi, befriend an older married couple: Nick and Melissa. And this foursome (pun-intended) have weird-ass relationships.
Life has a funny way of leading us into these situations.
Here’s everything in a nutshell:
Frances and Bobbi used to be girlfriends but Bobbi broke up with Frances and they remained best friends. Nick and Melissa have been married for I think 15 years, don’t have kids and don’t sleep in the same bed or have sex – they just live together (Melissa has cheated on Nick multiple times and he’s ok with that). Bobbi and Melissa are really close and surprisingly don’t engage in any sexual activities. And Frances and Nick are in a relationship.
I know, IT’S A LOT.
The relationships are twisted and confusing but I think that’s the beauty of it. Frances at times doesn’t understand how her relationships with both Nick and Bobbi are meant to work too.
But that’s life – relationships aren’t clear-cut. I hate that the movies make dating and relationships look so easy and cheesy. They’re not. Relationships need development and time because they’re made up of people – and we’re all so complicated.
Conversations With Friends also challenges the notion of a relationship being a two-people thing which was a discussion I didn’t think the novel was heading into. But we’re going to get into that in a bit.
Let’s Talk About Frances
Although the novel is seen from Frances’ perspective, I didn’t feel like I knew her enough and the reason why is because Frances is a closed-off unemotional human being that doesn’t want to be vulnerable. And everyone’s like that at certain moments of their life.
I personally found Frances really annoying because of that – but that’s because I feel that I’m an open person about my problems and emotions. Yet I did understand why she never showed emotion to Nick and Bobbi – she didn’t want to be judged or feel vulnerable. You could tell that Frances is still trying to figure herself out and still needs to mature emotionally by opening up.
Sometimes we don’t realize that we act this way with others because of the painful experiences we’ve had in previous relationships. In Frances’ case, it was never receiving love from her father who practically abandoned her and Bobbi breaking up with her with no explanation why.
And here’s where I dive into Bobbi’s characterization.
Frances describes Bobbi a lot in the novel – you can tell that Frances knows her more than she knows herself. I kept asking myself: but why is Frances so fixated on Bobbi? Why do we need to know so much about her?
An answer was provided to me at the end of the novel. Both Frances and Bobbi actually talk about their relationship and realize that there’s still feelings there. Although Frances doesn’t admit it, she loves Bobbi which makes her feel confused about Nick because she loves him to!
This ties the knot to what I was talking about before. You can love more than one person. Not all relationships are monogamous.
Stepping outside of the novel for a moment, you’ll notice how the experiences Frances has gone through in the novel is a lot. Emotionally, she must be distraught – especially since it has to do with figuring out her sexuality.
The Importance of Conversations
The novel has multiple conversations – witty ones. It was enjoyable to see the characters react to each other. Yet it was also very evident that the characters didn’t know how to converse with each other.
I think that this is something that everyone goes through when they’re in that young adult phase. It’s not easy to articulate things and to just be yourself in any situation with anyone. It’s not easy to say what you naturally feel.
That’s why the foundation of any relationship is communication because it leads to openness.
Finally, throughout the novel, I kept telling myself: but where is this novel heading?
I’m the type that likes to have a sense of direction in life – and Frances’ life depicted in this novel didn’t have that which made me question the novel itself.
But that’s the point – the novel is a reflection of how life is full of unexpectedness.
Sometimes, there’s no direction you’re heading in. Sometimes, life is just operating on its own and you’re just a player that gets to live in the experience – especially when certain extraordinary people walk into your life. Even the messy relationships make you learn something.
And that’s why Conversations With Friends is a novel you should read too.
Stayed tuned to my next and final review of Sally Rooney’s work – coming up soon!