This post may include affiliate links. That means if you click and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Please see Disclosures for more information.
Alice is a young, successful Irish author, renting a house in a rural town and working on her next book after recovering from a breakdown. Her emails with her best friend, Eileen, are her lifeline. As Alice ponders whether she and Felix, a local warehouse worker, have any connection, Eileen fixates on Simon, who she has loved since childhood. As the four navigate their relationships, the two women contemplate their importance when the world at large is falling apart around them.Rooney’s style is distinctive, though it can be offputting at times. While some may dislike her lack of quotation marks, Alice’s role as a Rooney-like figure, vilifying the spoils of her success, was more distracting to me. Nonetheless, her voice remains compelling. She writes quarter-life angst well, and I don’t doubt the sincerity of her characters’ concern about the world and their conclusion that the small dramas are what makes the world beautiful.
Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?