The novel has its setting mostly in Republic of Ireland. Frances, in her early twenties, writes and reads poems with her friend Bobbi on artist scene.
We learn how people distress each other and how they deal with problems, however difficult it may be, whether it’s about physical pain or heartbreak as Frances’ experiences reveal.
The narrator conveys her thoughts and feelings upon relationships.
Frances finds it almost impossible to get on well with her parents and especially her father. She has to deal with her father’s alcohol-related consequences. However, one can’t say from the characters’ behaviour that the family relationship is broken.
Frances fell in love with Nick, handsome actor and Melissa’s husband, which caused her to go through a rather hard and expected experience. Besides the ups and downs of such a relationship, Frances was diagnosed with a female pathology and only her lover Nick knows about it.
Frances, Bobbi and others were invited to the house of Melissa’s friend in France. The reader might be indignant at Frances and a married man about having and indulging in intercourses. But the sexual relationship with Melissa’s husband means a lot to her and more and more to the more than thirty-your-old Nick.
Should they tell Melissa about their story?
The novel allows the reader to know more not only about morals but also political opinions of some members of the Irish society as the the following excerpt shows.
“We often had political discussions, in which we all shared similar positions but expressed ourselves differently. Bobbi, for example, was an insurrectionist, while Melissa, from a grim pessimism, tended to favour the rule of law. Nick and I fell somewhere between the two of them, more comfortable with critique than endorsement. We talked one night about the endemic racism of criminal justice in the US, the videos of police brutality that we had all seen without ever seeking them out, and what it meant for us as white people to say they were ‘difficult to watch’, which we all agreed they were although we couldn’t fix on one exact meaning for this difficulty. There was one particular video of a black teenage girl in a bathing suit crying for her mother while a white police officer knelt on her back, which Nick said made him feel so physically ill he couldn’t finish watching it. » Page 241.
Frances, the student who finds it difficult to give up her relationship with Nick, will learn a lot about his past and his marriage to Melissa, whose professional career is a priority for her.
Bobbi is a loyal friend and possesses, according to Frances, charm and intelligence. The relationship of the two students, belonging to two different social backgrounds, is sometimes tense.
The author succeeded in highlighthing something special about Frances. One can’t help but ask oneself the following question : do our uneasiness and sadness stem from our behaviour or other people’s?
Maybe Frances knows the answer.
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