The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue
The Rachel Incident
I really, really didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did. From the podcaster & author @czaronline this novel was published last month & the reviews are pretty much unanimous in praise.
This nostalgic, bitingly funny, book perfectly captures the listlessness of being young, of not knowing what lies ahead or who you want to be, which makes it achingly relatable. It’s the literary equivalent of rewatching that old favourite show which makes all the emotions & memories of the time come flooding back.
Flitting from present to 2010, Rachel is a journalist writing about abortion rights whilst pregnant who happens across a news article on an old professor she was obsessed with, which takes us back to her student days in Cork & beyond.
At its heart this is a story of youthful love & her unbreakable bond with closeted gay best friend James. The drama with their married teacher takes turns I was not expecting, leading to heartbreak & moments of sheer awkwardness that left me howling with laughter.
Suffused in between the dialogue & plot are more nuanced themes of bodily autonomy, classism, religion & changing cultural perspectives on sexuality which felt contemplative & subtly weaved through.
Dare I say it did have a touch of the Rooney wit in the tightness of its dialogue & prose. The setting & characters are quickly developed, which helped when watching them flounder & face their past as more is revealed. A very authentic and clever story that made me believe the cast was reflecting real people & anecdotes. Such a summer read – C
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