Books: Beautiful World, Where Are You?
by Sally Rooney
The young characters in Sally Rooney’s latest novel are not funny. You won’t find them cracking wise in a pub. Nor will they ever glibly be offering their unsolicited opinions about some popularTV show.
Yet when you finish reading “Beautiful World, Where Are You?” you will find yourself wondering what happens to these people and if you are anything like them.
Alice and Eileen have been friends forever. They grew up in small town near Dublin. Alice becomes a world-famous novelist, Eileen stays local and putters around at a copyediting job. Neither is particularly happy.
The two men in their lives are as different as night and day. Felix is a handsome working stiff whose roughness belies his insight and kindness. Simon is a tall, diffident, almost saintly figure (Tom Hiddleston would play him in the movie). He wants to save the world—if he could only push away the paperwork required by his Parliamentary job to do so.
The interplay of these four characters—who don’t actually meet until late in the book —is irresistible. Helped by Rooney’s sensitive, deadpan, graceful, intellectual (some might claim “pseudo-intellectual”) prose that I envy enormously.
I am not one for celebrity culture—Rooney postulates that it is a modern-day stand-in for belief in God. But if she is an example
of a millennial celebrity author who enjoys a lot of hype, then I say more power to her. Because hype or no hype, she really is that good.