Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Review by Robyn Hewson
Sally Rooney's hotly anticipated new novel finally hit the shelves last week, after months of rising excitement from fans. Even before its release, Beautiful World, Where Are You was making waves in the literary world. But does the novel live up to the hype? For me, it was an astounding yes.
Having read Conversations with Friends and Normal People in quick succession, I was eager for Rooney's new novel and intrigued to see if there would be a departure from the familiar characters and themes of her earlier novels.
BWWAY (Beautiful World, Where Are You) explores the complicated relationships between four young adults – Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon. While Normal People follows its protagonists from school through to university, the characters in BWWAY are in their late twenties to thirties.
This maturation of Rooney's characters is also seen in the themes explored throughout the novel. Emails exchanged between best friends Eileen and Alice are interwoven into the narrative, in which they express their opinions on everything from religion and ancient civilisations to the meaning of beauty.
Another interesting aspect of this novel is Rooney’s more detached style of narration. She takes her time exploring the world around each of the characters, painting a vivid picture of Rome, Dublin and the Irish countryside.
With an epilogue set in the 2020 lockdown, this is a timely novel that reflects on modern life and global issues. Despite this, I found it the most hopeful of Rooney's three novels. BWWAY reminds us to find the beauty in the world around us and in the simple pleasure of being with those we love.
And Now You’re Back by Jill Hansen
Review by Lauren Fardoe
Hansen explores second chances and a return to love in And Now You’re Back, a feel-good light-hearted novel.
It’s thirteen years since Didi Laing has seen Shay Mason. When she was seventeen, they had an intense affair that started, romantically, in Venice. Back in Elliscombe, Shay came to work at her parents’ hotel, The Wickham. Then there was an incident. No one blamed Shay outright, but everyone thought he was responsible. He left, presumably never to return.
And now he’s back. His dad is dying and has one last wish: to see out his last days on earth in the family home, Hillcrest. But Hillcrest is run down, unliveable, so instead of a well-earned vacation, Shay is restoring it and living in a luxury suite in The Wickham while he does. Apparently, Shay is now very well off, and just as gorgeous as he was at eighteen. Didi, now managing the hotel, shouldn’t be noticing – she’s engaged to Aaron, and their wedding is six months away.
With Shay and Red (Shay's father) back in Elliscombe, certain people are reminded of the unsolved crime that drove Shay away and the secrets they have been keeping for thirteen years. Thrown together, Didi and Shay remember, but try to ignore, what real love felt like. Their timing is all wrong.
I found the plot somewhat predictable and some characters two-dimensional, yet Mansell’s writing means they easily endear themselves to the reader. An upbeat novel which is perfect for a quick, fun read!
The Appeal by Janice Hallett
Review by Arabella Petts
Enclosed within the pages of The Appeal are emails, texts and letters surrounding the Fairway Player’s production of All My Sons, and the death of one of their members. Another member is currently imprisoned for that crime, but we suspect they are innocent.
Within the documents, the killer is hiding in plain sight and may have even given themselves away, but it’s up to you to work out who they are.
Through the appeal for two-year old Poppy’s life saving cancer treatment and play rehearsals, work alongside Charlotte and Femi to uncover the clues and get closer to solving the crime – who is the murderer and why was someone killed?
A whodunnit written for the reader, Hallett’s debut thriller gives a new twist to the classic murder mystery and may be the beginning of a new writing style that will take over the next generation of thrillers.
With fifteen main characters to keep up with, you may get a little lost within the pages, but if you stay engaged with their stories, you may just get one step closer to solving the clues.