PositiveThe Boston GlobeSally Rooney writes as if a philosophy major broke her heart freshman year and she never fully recovered ... Rooney’s special skill is the ability to place readers at eye level with her characters and plot, to sneak them into the world of her story as a participant in the room ... She pulls the reader in with her famously unadorned sentences and creates an intimacy akin to peering over the characters’ shoulders. The deliberate tenderness in her previous novels, the soft exchanges of her characters, and the absolute banality of her plots remain with Beautiful World ... The e-mails and texts in Rooney’s previous works pushed the novels forward. They revealed the innermost workings of how the characters felt about each other, how their love was growing, how their insecurities got in the way of their triumphs. In Beautiful World, Alice and Eileen’s e-mails leave no significant impressions ... Rooney’s grippingly flawed characters held me hostage with reflections of myself.
Leila Slimani tr. Sam Taylor
PositiveBoston GlobeSlimani shines through the rise and fall of tension in her novels. Her willowy prose is dense with emotional depth and insight, and blunt observations elucidate every scene with force ... Slimani wields tight control of conflict ... At times, these appeals to feminism feel overdone. The characters, who seem otherwise unable to navigate their positions in the world, are suspiciously articulate in their internal observations ... Although Slimani’s prose, translated from the French by Sam Taylor, is stunning, the narrative structure, strung together in vignettes, is at times hazy, obscuring chronology. The book’s strength lies in its ability to interweave these disparate pieces into a satisfying if infuriating look at how power works in the struggle for independence, both personal and political.