Beautiful World, Where Are You
from the internationally bestselling author of Normal People
'Beautiful World, Where Are You is Rooney's best novel.' THE TIMES
*The Sunday Times and Global number one bestseller*
*Winner of Novel of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards*
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 worry about sex and friendship 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?
'A tour de force. The dialogue never falters, and the prose burns up the page.'
'Rooney's strongest writing thus far . . . There is a touching honesty and truthfulness in these pages, along with a quiet brilliance.'
'The book moved me to tears more than once . . . Rooney's best novel.'
'Rooney's best novel yet. Funny and smart, full of sex and love and people doing their best to connect.'
Brandon Taylor, NEW YORK TIMES
'Written with immense skill and illuminated by an endlessly incisive intelligence.'
'Beautiful World, Where Are You is not just worth reading. It's worth thinking about.'
'Brilliantly done: gripping, steamy, unbearably sad.'
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Much of Sally Rooney’s third novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, will feel familiar to anyone who’s read the Irish writer’s 2017 debut Conversations with Friends or 2018’s Normal People. There’s the sharp, sparse prose that’s become a Rooney signature (and which has influenced a growing number of young female Irish writers following in her wake), as she explores class, female friendship, the aching pain of change and the tremendous fear of being left behind, alongside a tender will-they-won’t-they relationship. But in Beautiful World, Where Are You, Rooney also explores brand-new territory. Written in an observational, script-like style as though Rooney is watching her characters from afar, the novel centres on Alice—a feted author who’s released two wildly successful novels and achieved instant fame (sound familiar?)—and her best friend Eileen, an editorial assistant at a Dublin-based literary magazine. Then there are the men in their lives: Felix, who Alice meets on a Tinder date, and Simon, Eileen’s childhood friend. This novel is also part-told in epistolary style, as Eileen and Alice trade emails about their lives—intellectual ping-pong games that see the two women ponder everything from the overuse of plastic to beauty standards, capitalism, the end of civilisation as we know it and impending climate disaster. The result is a typically astute novel that, at its core, is about nothing less than how we find meaning in our chaotic, uncertain times. Rooney may poke fun at her own voice-of-a-generation status in Beautiful World, Where Are You (“A lot of press attention surrounded the publication, mostly positive at first, and then some negative pieces reacting to the fawning positivity of the first,” she writes of Alice’s first novel), but here, Rooney meets the moment head-on all over again.
Rooney (Normal People) continues her exploration of class, sex, and mental health with a cool, captivating story about a successful Irish writer, her friend, and their lovers. Alice Kelleher, 29, has suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of her work's popularity. After moving from Dublin to a small seaside town, she meets Felix, a local with a similar background they both grew up working-class, and both have absent fathers who works in a shipping warehouse. She invites him to accompany her to Rome, where he falls in love with her but resents what he takes to be her superior attitude. Meanwhile, in Dublin, Alice's university friend Eileen Lydon works a low-paying literary job and explores her attraction to a childhood friend who seems to return her feelings but continues seeing other women. Alice and Eileen update each other in long emails, which Rooney cleverly exploits for essayistic musings about culture, climate change, and political upheaval. Rooney establishes a distance from her characters' inner lives, creating a sense of privacy even as she describes Alice and Eileen's most intimate moments. It's a bold change to her style, and it makes the illuminations all the more powerful when they pop. As always, Rooney challenges and inspires.