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Blog Adult Book review: Sally Rooney - Beautiful World, Where Are You?

Adult Book review: Sally Rooney - Beautiful World, Where Are You?

By Luke Chapman | Book Reviews, Parents, Teachers

Adult Book review: Sally Rooney - Beautiful World, Where Are You?

The most anticipated book of the year has arrived, here's our take on Rooney's third novel

Most people who even dip their toes into the book world know exactly who Sally Rooney is, her second novel 'Normal People' took the world by storm during lockdown and even earned itself a BBC3 adaption, which again took the world by storm! After a hugely stretched out agonising wait, we've finally been gifted Rooney's follow up novel...

'Beautiful World, Where Are You?' is a weirdly meta book inviting readers to question the very reason they're even reading the book in front of them. Centred around the lives of best friends Alice and Eireen, every other chapter we step into the personal e-mail exchanges between the peculiar pair giving us a real insight into each character. Rather than following a linear story, the e-mail chapters allow us a glimpse into the personal interactions of our two protagonists whilst evaluating their thoughts on a deeper level and coming to understand them and the world around them more. Not only do these chapters allow us a different perspective to the characters, but they add a totally new story throughout the book. Touching upon the move to far-right politics, the Bronze Age societal collapse and the idea of the world we're leaving behind for the next generation, we follow a completely different storyline to the predominant focus of 'Beautiful World, Where Are You?'.

It's arguable that Rooney is simply so popular largely due to her relatability, I mean, her second book was literally about 'Normal People'. Readers often see themselves aligned with the characters or experiences lived in her books and get drawn in through familiarity, something Rooney does surgically and with ease. One critique I personally had with 'Normal People' was its surface level story with little else going on, something which couldn't be further from the case in 'Beautiful World, Where are you?'. Alice and Eileen live multi-faceted lives, both similar and worlds apart. Alice is a widely acclaimed and famous novelist who escaped Dublin to settle in rural Ireland (remember the Meta from Rooney I mentioned?) while Eileen is an editor at a literary magazine miserable in her work wanting to write for a living. The story constantly touches on the deeper struggles the two face which further leans into the familiarity previously mentioned, while also tackling worldwide topics and even the falsities and lies of contemporary novels in today's world.

Stunningly gripping, ravenously addictive and simply loveable, if you want to get lost in a book this Autumn, this is the one.


Published: Fri 24th Sep 2021

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