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“Conversations with Friends” by Sally Rooney

For us singletons, Valentine’s Day is a non-event, except that at the Y today, Carole was giving out pink chocolate kisses, and my friend Sylvie had a beautiful little heart-covered box for me, with homemade chocolate cake inside. What a sweetheart.

And at the same time, her husband John was here at my house, smashing through walls. What a mess. There was so much dust, the smoke alarms went off twice. It’s thrilling, mind you – those walls were built in 1887, so the lath and plaster he extricated are 131 years old. This is just a preliminary exploration; the main work won’t begin for months, we have to get permission from the city, which will take forever, and I have mountains and mountains of stuff to get rid of first. Yesterday, I started on the books, piled up scores to put in my Little Free Library, but there are still way, way too many left. Getting rid of books is tough.

Three treats today – it was warm and sunny, just a gorgeous day. I’ve been looking for a big enough handbag for my travels next month, and Doubletake came through today – a beautiful maroon bag by Ralph Lauren, which will hold many New Yorkers, my main criteria for travel bags. Imagine, someone gave this away.

And I finished a superb novel: “Conversations with Friends,” by a very young (born in 1991!) Irish writer, Sally Rooney. Wonderful writing, fabulous dialogue, profound understanding of the complexities of human nature, about fear, love, friendship … Here’s the narrator, Frances, talking with her mother.

I laughed, and she offered her hand to help me up. Her hands were large and sallow, not at all like mine. They were full of the practicality I lacked, and my hand fit into them like something that needed fixing. 

And here she is, falling in love with a married man:

Eventually Nick looked over and I looked back. I felt a key turning hard inside my body, turning so forcefully that I could do nothing to stop it. His lips parted like he was about to say something, but he just inhaled and then seemed to swallow. Neither of us gestured or waved, we just looked at one another, as if we were already having a private conversation that couldn’t be overheard. 

It has been a long time since I felt that key turning in my body, but this book brought the feeling back. I loved the book; it’s as delicious as a big piece of chocolate cake. 

On another note, however, I left the Y to get the streetcar home, but College Street outside the police station was blocked by a demonstration – First Nations people protesting the Colton Boushie verdict again. The police were there, protecting the protestors. I wondered if my daughter was there with them, but not on a school day, I guess. But today, Trudeau offered a new recognition of indigenous rights, which sounds like a good start.

And – Ontario is going through the horror of uncovering the trail of a serial killer of gay men, Bruce MacArthur. Wayson told me he’d met him a number of times; he was apparently a nice, kind man who helped out at the gay village’s community centre. I guess that’s where he picked people up. If Wayson had been a more vulnerable man, he might not still be here. Horrifying.

Tonight’s present: Samantha Bee.



2 Responses to ““Conversations with Friends” by Sally Rooney”

  1. theresa says:

    Beautiful bag. I found a deep green butter-soft goatskin Italian one at a second hand store in Sechelt a week ago. It still had the tags on. Someone bought it and then got rid of it, to my delighted advantage. Big enough for New Yorkers, yes, and manuscripts if necessary…

  2. beth says:

    Mmm, sounds gorgeous. I'm one of those boring people who, when things of mine are admired, say, "Second hand, only $19.99!" But the fact is, it takes time and skill to buy used stuff, very little time or skill to buy stuff that's new. So – a talent to be proud of.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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