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  • Writer's pictureCatriona Fida

Exciting Times

Is the title supposed to be ironic? These times were anything but exciting.

Exciting Times follows 22-year-old Ava as she decides to leave Dublin and move to Hong Kong where she gets a job as an English grammar teacher. She struggles to fit in with the people around her until she meets Julian, an English banker, with whom she moves in and enters a sexual relationship. They have a very strange bond - sometimes she hates him, sometimes she wants him to commit, and throughout the book she attempts to assert control over their relationship. This all changes when he takes a prolonged trip to London, in which time Ava meets and falls in love with Edith, a lawyer from Hong Kong, and what follows is your typical love triangle plot.

Something that really stuck out to me as I was reading was that there is literally no purpose for the book being set in Hong Kong. One of the reasons I was excited to read this book was for the atmosphere and setting, yet really and truly this book could have been set in any country other than Ireland and it would still be the same book. Whenever there was mention of one of the kids Ava teaches, the children are homogenised and without individuality. Edith and her mother were the only Asian people with dialogue in this book and there were no references to Chinese culture whatsoever.

I can see why this book has been targeted at Rooney fans. Ava thinks she’s different from other girls and her entire personality is based around being emotionally detached and wondering how other people perceive her. In this way she reminded me a lot of Frances from Conversations With Friends but, unlike Rooney, the author doesn’t provide a significant enough reason as to why Ava has these self-indulgent personality traits and insecurities. There also just wasn’t enough depth in the writing or plot to make up for the unlikeable characters. So, overall, not for me but I didn't completely hate it.


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