Book Reviews / Books

Beautiful World, Where Are You Book Review

09.21.21
Beautiful World, Where Are You Review

Like most other readers around the world, I absolutely devoured both Normal People and Conversations with Friends, before going on to binge watch the TV adaptation of Normal People, and – like much of the female population of the world – becoming somewhat obsessed with Conor’s silver chain. And thus, it was with great delight that I discovered that Rooney – the thirty-year-old Irish writer who can do no wrong in the eyes of the literary world – had a new book coming out. That it was being published during Sydney’s lockdown made it all the sweeter. And so, as soon as I got my hands on a copy, I cleared the reading schedule, left my phone in another room, and lost myself between the pages of Beautiful World, Where Are You.

Beautiful World, Where Are You Book Review

While words don’t quite adequately convey my utter adoration for Rooney’s books, I can but try to explain just how much I loved Beautiful World, Where Are You. An absolute treat of a read, and one that offered me a much-needed dose of escapism from the sunny streets of Bondi to a rickety farmhouse in Ireland, and the cobbled streets of Rome; in Beautiful World, Where Are You we follow Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon as they navigate the intricacies and nuances of blossoming relationships and long-held friendships.

Alice – a successful novelist who has found both fame and critical acclaim at quite a young age – meets warehouse worker Felix on a dating app after returning to Ireland from New York; while her close friend Alice begins a romantic liaison with Simon, who she’s known since she was a baby. And what follows is an intimate exploration of the inane and imperfect; of the ebbs and flows of the mundane and the ordinary as the characters search for the profound and the beautiful in their everyday encounters.

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Written in her signature thoughtful and perceptive prose, in Beautiful World, Where Are You, Rooney tackles everything from privilege to class divide, to society’s definition of success to how one finds hope in a seemingly despondent world, to deliver perhaps her best book yet.

Beautiful World, Where Are You Summary

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?

Buy Beautiful World, Where Are You from Bookshop.org, Book Depository or Waterstones.

Further reading

I loved this on The Cut: Why is the sex in Sally Rooney’s books so good?

Sally Rooney author bio

Sally Rooney was born in 1991 and lives in Dublin, where she graduated from Trinity College. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Dublin Review, The White Review, The Stinging Fly, and the Winter Pages anthology.

More Sally Rooney books

Sally Rooney has also written Normal People and Conversations with Friends.

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