• NZ Booklovers

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey

From the coast of the Adriatic to the salt spray of Santa Barbara, an unnamed narrator maps out her life through two decades of bad relationships, motherhood, crisis and consolation.

The novel unfurls through a series of conversations - in private with friends, late at night at parties with acquaintances, with strangers in hotel rooms, in moments of revelation, shame, cynicism, envy and intimacy.

Miranda Popkey's debut novel is about the stories we tell ourselves and the things we reveal only to other strangers. I had high hopes for this novel. Unfortunately those hopes were largely dashed.

The book was, to put it bluntly, boring. It failed to capture me in any way. Rather than a series of conversations that build on each other, each one is a mere snapshot. It's hard to see any strong plot and sadly, that made it hard for me to feel engaged or inspired to read on further.

Persevering with the book I had hoped a strong character would come into view, but sadly that failed to eventuate too. The narrator is unlikable and unrealistic, and Popkey's writing style made it difficult to follow the 'conversation'. The stream of consciousness style of writing was poorly executed and too confusing to digest - some paragraphs required multiple readings to figure out exactly what was happening.

There were moments were you thought a great prophetic breakthrough might be about to happen, but just as quickly the female narrator reverted to her unkind, boring self again.

Don't let this review put you off though - Topics of Conversation has had rave reviews elsewhere. Which goes to show that not every book is for every person. Maybe this one is for you?

Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Profile Books, RRP $32.99