In Unsworth’s (Hungry, the Stars and Everything, 2012) second novel, two women confront the end of their carefree, party-going 20s.
Laura Joyce and Tyler Johnson have been inseparable since their early 20s. Within their apartment, they’ve cultivated the kind of female friendship that’s closer to a unified existence, and they’re as comfortable quoting Yeats to one another as they are drinking until the sun comes up. But when Laura, who works at a call center but dreams of becoming a writer, gets engaged to straight-laced classical pianist Jim, a shadow is thrown over their relationship. Jim has given up the lifestyle of drinking and partying, and as his career progresses, he encourages Laura to do the same. Unorthodox Tyler, however, maintains her belief that “Sharing your life with someone is like Marmite. It’s FUCKING SHIT,” and she holds fast to her friendship with Laura and their wild, drug-filled nights out. Real life intrudes as Laura’s wedding draws closer, Tyler’s sister has a baby, and the two debate some of life’s bigger questions—what love, romance, and relationships really mean and whether growing up is inevitable. After arguments and a disastrous bar brawl drive a wedge between them, Laura is certain she can’t keep up with Tyler forever, but can she let her go entirely? As Unsworth charts Laura’s glittery nights out with Tyler and clashes with Jim, the book’s constant succession of parties and hangovers can get repetitive, but surprisingly deep insights emerge in between. As she fights with Jim, Laura wants to accuse her fiance of losing his spontaneity but muses, “Hadn’t I fallen for his fixedness, his pin-like regard?...Was that what happened: the things you fell in love with became the very things that repelled you, in the end?” While leveled at Jim, on a deeper level the question is also directed at Tyler and speaks to the book’s moving examination of friendship and whether it can survive as time passes, people change, and the responsibilities of adulthood beckon.
A deep, honest meditation on all the drama and intimacy of female friendships.