• Beautiful World, Where Are You

  • A Novel
  • By: Sally Rooney
  • Narrated by: Aoife McMahon
  • Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (2,294 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"[V]ia McMahon, Rooney's peerless descriptions imprint upon the mind's eye. The listener won't soon forget a silk blouse caressed like a pet, freckled arms made pink by the sun, the coast of Ireland at nightfall, or the forgiveness of a best friend. A hopeful Millennial journey shines through McMahon's performance." (AudioFile Magazine, Earphones Award Winner)

Beautiful World, Where Are You is a new novel by Sally Rooney, the best-selling author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends.

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a breakup, and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood.

Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young - but life is catching up with them. They desire each other; they delude each other; they get together; they break apart. They have sex; they worry about sex; they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint the following material:

Epigraph from "My Vocation", by Natalia Ginzburg, from The Little Virtues. Copyright © 1962, 1966, 1972, 1984, 1998, 2012, and 2015 Giulio Einaudi editore s.p.a., Torino. Originally published in Italian as Le Piccole Virtù. Translation copyright © 1985 Dick Davis. First published in Great Britain in 1985 by Carcanet, Manchester.

Excerpt from "How to Get There", by Frank O’Hara, from Lunch Poems. Copyright © 1964 by Frank O’Hara. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of City Lights Books, citylights.com. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from Within a Budding Grove, by Marcel Proust, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, The Modern Library, New York, copyright 1924.

Excerpt from The Waste Land, first published in 1922; copyright the Estate of T. S. Eliot. Reproduced by permission of Faber & Faber Ltd.

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

©2021 Sally Rooney (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

Los Angeles Times Holiday Books Guide, 2021

New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year, 2021

The Guardian (UK) Best Books of the Year, 2021

Financial Times Books of the Year, 2021

NPR Best Book of the Year, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, 2021

BuzzFeed Best Books of the Year, 2021

Hudson Booksellers Best of the Year, 2021

Time Magazine Best Books of the Year, 2021

USA Today Best Books of the Year, 2021

Amazon.com Best Books of the Year, 2021

Washington Post Best Books of the Year, 2021

Goodreads Choice Awards, 2021

Editor's Pick

This spoke to my hardened pandemic heart
There is nothing like a dependable writer. Sorry, does that sound boring? It's not. Sally Rooney is that rare author whom I can absolutely, 100% trust to be bowl-me-over brilliant. Aoife McMahon, who has narrated Rooney's two other books, continues to be the listening linchpin, providing distinct voices for Rooney's conversation-rich stories without slipping into caricature. And in Beautiful World, Where Are You, Rooney brings us so much amazing conversation; her four main characters—all fully fleshed out—orbit around each other in various modes of longing, despair, and hope. They seem surprised that adulthood has grabbed them by the ankle and is hanging on, as they flail for both freedom and security in equal measure. Though the book's events predate the tragedy of COVID, the four's restlessness foreshadows lockdown, and the story ends amidst the emergence of the pandemic. Yet strangely, and without giving any spoilers, I will say that Beautiful World, Where Are You left me more settled than Rooney's other works. This novel is an ode to people asking for, and finding, what they need in life. And it may be that what we all need most right now is a little peace. And the certainty of a great listen. —Emily C., Audible Editor

What listeners say about Beautiful World, Where Are You

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Must listen!

Sally Rooney is such an amazing and talented author. I enjoyed this book as much as her previous ones. I finished this book in 2 days! I couldn't turn it off. I will listen to this again, very soon. I just ordered a hard copy so I can follow along in Audible.
I loved the descriptive language Sally Rooney used in the book, but where it stuck out the most, to me, were in the letters.
Great Narrator!!!

18 people found this helpful

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Passes my test!

If I read a second book by an author and by the end say, I would’ve definitely read the first book if I had read this book first, then I would know that the author had certainly nailed it. And she has. Good job! I consider this a romance novel for contemporary-minded individuals. Read a regular romance and you’ll know what I’m talking about. This is definitely a love story And I’ll venture to say a romance between friends and lovers. It took me a while to understand the reason behind the letters between Eileen and Alice. But as I got further into the story, I begin to realize that as they grow and change the tone of your correspondence changed. And I do think that true love occurs when you find a partner who understands the pattern and disrupts it. And that’s why I say this is a romance. Good job Sally Roone, good job.

17 people found this helpful

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Snore

I wasn’t familiar with this author prior to this book but had ordered bc o had “heard great things”… 22 hours I won’t get back… typical hokey and cheesy romance novel with bits of pontificating… if you’re into that kind of thing, enjoy, but I found myself rolling my eyes repeatedly, it was so predictable and painful. Sorry! I wanted to like it…

14 people found this helpful

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Over analyzing self absorbed whiners

Either the characters in this book are all mentally ill, or our future is doomed.

11 people found this helpful

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No plot no story

I stopped listening, it was slow and the story is basically talking about bf/gf with no interesting developments. Not worth the hype

8 people found this helpful

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Not a good read , blindly-adoring world, where are you

Can’t even explain how disappointed I feel. Have not read something that superficial and banal in my life.

7 people found this helpful

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Favorite Sally Rooney novel so far

Loved this book, the scene setting is decadent. Narrator is perfection. Not as depressing as Normal People, thankfully.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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More like nonfiction

The book gave us long sections of the character Alice’s opinions about the problems w celebrity for the celebrated, the state of art in the culture and other beliefs that went on and on. Sometimes I fast forwarded through them.

7 people found this helpful

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Fast Enjoyable Read

I’m still pretty much obsessed with Normal People by Sally Rooney & maybe it’s my obsession with that story, but this one is very similar in several ways. I didn’t mind it since I love Normal People so much. Performance was great, writing is raw + honest & I like the mundane relatability. Gave 4 stars instead of 5 since the ending was disappointing. *spoiler* Like Eileen couldn’t find happiness in herself but had to find it in Simon & a baby. Just felt like a cop out. Still loved the book.

5 people found this helpful

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Aoife shines

Thank you GR friend Tania for strongly recommending the audio, narrated by the fabulous Aoife McMahon, “Beautiful World, Where Are You” by Sally Rooney. If you haven’t heard Aoife McMahon narrate before, treat yourself to any of her works.

This is my second book that I’ve listened to by Rooney and narrated by McMahon. For me, a woman in her mid 60’s, it’s McMahon’s voice that adds depth to Rooney’s work. In “Normal People”, Rooney gives voice to the young adults in their late teens and early twenties. In this one, Rooney philosophizes the internal struggles of young adults in their mid to late twenties all the way into their very early thirties. Particular notice is given to romance, work, friendship, and morals. Given that I did not read this(I chose the audio), I was surprised that Rooney’s usage emails and texts grated on some readers. I enjoyed listening to McMahon reading those formats. It was obvious that she was reading either a letter or an email. Listening to this, rather than reading it, worked for me.

Another personal interest is that Rooney is proclaimed to be the writer who defines Millennials. Much of the discussions and angst of the novel are universal for that age. I empathized with so much of the story in that I struggled with some of the same angst and feelings when I was that age (over 30 years ago). It’s an age when young adults are wrestling with finding meaning in the world. I was single in my early thirties (when the novel’s main characters are single), and I certainly recall similar feelings of dating, friendships, and work. It’s a time when young adults are almost their worst enemy, finding self-sabotage abundant (at least for me). The childish dating games played are common in that age group.

Of course, technology has changed tremendously, and all those references are true Millennial. Additionally, the characters are far more concerned with the environment, mental health, social class issues, and our impact on the environment than the Baby-Boomer generation. Another difference, Rooney does enjoy her erotica. In both novels I’ve read of hers, that is one issue that leaves me uncomfortable. Not a fan of sex scenes….again, old lady here. But it’s what you get with Rooney.

I enjoy Rooney’s work in that I use those sorts of work to keep contemporary. My children are of that age group, and I feel that I gain some empathy when I read Rooney. I obtain understanding of my children’s issues, especially since none are married (although living with their significant other). Rooney gives voice to that age.

Ratings:
Storyline 3 stars
Narrations 5 stars
Audio format 5 stars

4 people found this helpful