Rating: 4 / 5
Miranda Popkey’s Topics of Conversation is a particularly distinctive collection of conversations between women painting a portrait of female desire, love, shame, and much more.
Thank you to Knopf Publishing for the free book!
Our unidentified protagonist introduces us to some of the conversations she’s had over the years and throughout the country – some in which she is merely a soundboard for another woman’s ideas, others in which she is musing about the decisions she’s mad in her life. The main themes throughout many of these conversations include desire and sex, love and motherhood, regret and shame. Without a distinct plot, these themes are what connect each conversation.
Please take caution while reading Topics of Conversation if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Sexual assault
Based on its synopsis, I expected Topics of Conversation to be a Sally Rooney-esque Three Women – and it kind of is, but it’s also wholly unique and I do not recommend going into it with preconceptions.
Our unidentified narrator – a woman whose life we will come to learn more about – lets us in on the conversations she’s having with other women – friends, strangers, acquaintances. The writing is extremely conversational – with run-on sentences and abrupt changes in topic – and includes minimal punctuation. These two elements together make for a more challenging reading experience, to be sure. It is wonderfully earnest, however, and I wasn’t personally bothered by it.
The conversations paint a hazy portrait of our narrator’s life, but there is a vague quality to the story. You’re dropped into the middle of lives, experiences and the reader can feel left like they’re playing catch up. There is no distinct plot, but this doesn’t take away from a general understanding of time passing and the life that the narrator has lived.
Topics of Conversation will not be for every reader, and that’s okay! It’s odd and, at times, laborious, but I found that it had a lot of heart and honesty. Not to mention, it’s an extremely short novel and the time spent on it is fair. If you love Sally Rooney, I recommend this one to you. If you prefer a more straightforward, plot-driven novel, this may not be for you.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on Topics of Conversation. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!