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The Rachel Incident: 2023's hottest summer…
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The Rachel Incident: 2023's hottest summer read - a hilarious, heartfelt story of unexpected love from the bestselling author (edition 2023)

by Caroline O'Donoghue (Author)

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3141883,861 (3.96)17
"Rachel is a student working at a bookstore when she meets James, and it's love at first sight. Effervescent and insistently heterosexual, James soon invites Rachel to be his roommate and the two begin a friendship that changes the course of both their lives forever. Together, they run riot through the streets of Cork city, trying to maintain a bohemian existence while the threat of the financial crash looms before them. When Rachel falls in love with her married professor, Dr. Fred Byrne, James helps her devise a reading at their local bookstore, with the goal that she might seduce him afterwards. But Fred has other desires. So begins a series of secrets and compromises that intertwine the fates of James, Rachel, Fred, and Fred's glamorous, well-connected, bourgeois wife."--… (more)
Member:ariel1234987
Title:The Rachel Incident: 2023's hottest summer read - a hilarious, heartfelt story of unexpected love from the bestselling author
Authors:Caroline O'Donoghue (Author)
Info:Virago (2023), 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:
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The Rachel Incident by Caroline O'Donoghue

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English (16)  Dutch (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
At first I thought I'd stumbled upon a Mills & Boon for Millennials. Then I thought I might not be all that interested as I'm scarcely the same generation as Rachel and her friends and colleagues, stumbling through messy early adulthood. But almost against my will, I was drawn in to the convoluted affairs and working arrangements of Rachel, and her gay friend and flat mate James. We begin in 209, and there's a recession on, which colours everyone's prospects, including Rachel's middle class dentist parents.

Rachel is at first finishing her English degree while also working in a bookshop. She fancies her professor. But he, it turns out, has begun an affair with James, although he's married to the woman whom Rachel is in due course working for as an intern, and Rachel has fallen for someone who's fallen for her too, but has a habit of disappearing ... It's all intriguingly complicated and believable.

It's gossipy, witty, wry and a real page turner. Recommended. ( )
  Margaret09 | Apr 15, 2024 |
I listened to this, it's an excellent audiobook. I looked up an interview with the author, and found out that she wrote this during the first year of COVID, wanting to write something that would help her and the people who read it feel good. She's done it, it's a funny, warm-hearted book. There is tension, but the narrator (Rachel) tells part of the story from her older-self; so you always know she will end up OK.

It's an Irish novel, set in Cork where Rachel and her best friend James are coping with the economic depression of 2009 and with figuring out their own identities and futures; while spending time going to parities, bars and getting drunk; and in between school and working in a failing bookstore.

Here is a passage, as Rachel reflects on her choice of getting a degree in literature:

“I liked dead women talking glibly about society. I liked long paragraphs about rationing and sexual awakenings in France.” ( )
  banjo123 | Mar 31, 2024 |
O'Donohue captured life in one's early 20s. Rachel navigates finding a meaningful job, moving away from her family, an intense friendship, sex, first love and inadvertently becoming involved in a very complicated romantic (?) situation. She is funny and relatable and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. ( )
  ccayne | Mar 30, 2024 |
(9) It dawned on me while I was reading this that at some point maybe I won't be able to relate to a coming of age novel from the female perspective due to my personal age. Does there come a time when an older individual can't relate to a 20-something anymore or are the themes universal? Why should I be able to relate to a young person on the struggle bus in Ancient Rome, or Victorian England but not the 2010's? In a well written novel, the ability to relate should be unaffected by space and time. And after much reflection, I think this author achieves universality despite writing about a specific time, place, and person.

Rachel is a middle class Irish student finishing a University degree in English in Cork. The recession is in full swing and she and her family are feeling the pinch. She lives in an unheated bohemian house with her newfound gay BFF and works in a bookstore. She wears dirty clothes, drinks too much, is somewhat irresponsible, and is struggling through serial monogamy, kinda. Maybe she is having an affair with a professor. The contextual detail is excellent, and while I could not relate to the politics of texting while dating, I could relate to the overanalyzed moves and countermoves that define the first serious love of your life. I think I might have lived in a similar house in Boston, and had a few candidate Jameses.

I think men have been writing this same book for centuries and we call it a timeless bildungsroman. Women write it and we too easily dismiss it as chick-lit. Some books of this type make me eye-roll at the self-involvement of the protagonist - O'Donoghue's Rachel is too close to the bone for it to have crossed my mind. For me, this is a better book upon reflection than I appreciated while I was reading it. I am not sure I appreciated the artistry while binging on what seemed a fun romp through some random woman's 20's. This prevents a higher rating, but I think this author is capable of greatness. ( )
  jhowell | Mar 24, 2024 |
this didn't start off great for me. didn't like rachel, not sure if i like her now, but as always, we love plotless character driven books about girls struggling through life and work and love and mental breakdowns in their 20s. even though this wasn't perfect for me - moments of overwhelming frustration and characters i couldn't care about - i knew i was going to like this book from the moment i knew it was irish fiction and i thought it was a good read ( )
  Ellen-Simon | Feb 23, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)

The Rachel Incident, by Caroline O’Donoghue, was basically a one-sitting read for me. The plot’s twisty and emotional, full of realistic early-twenties intensity, with a much-older professor, who’s really chasing that early-twenties vibe.
 
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"Rachel is a student working at a bookstore when she meets James, and it's love at first sight. Effervescent and insistently heterosexual, James soon invites Rachel to be his roommate and the two begin a friendship that changes the course of both their lives forever. Together, they run riot through the streets of Cork city, trying to maintain a bohemian existence while the threat of the financial crash looms before them. When Rachel falls in love with her married professor, Dr. Fred Byrne, James helps her devise a reading at their local bookstore, with the goal that she might seduce him afterwards. But Fred has other desires. So begins a series of secrets and compromises that intertwine the fates of James, Rachel, Fred, and Fred's glamorous, well-connected, bourgeois wife."--

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