Author(s): Naoise Dolan
Ava, newly arrived in Hong Kong from Dublin, spends her days teaching English to rich children.
Julian is a banker. A banker who likes to spend money on Ava, to have sex and discuss fluctuating currencies with her. But when she asks whether he loves her, he cannot say more than 'I like you a great deal'.
Enter Edith, a lawyer. Refreshingly enthusiastic and unapologetically earnest, Edith takes Ava to the theatre when Julian leaves Hong Kong for work. Quickly, she becomes something Ava looks forward to.
And then Julian writes to tell Ava he is coming back to Hong Kong...
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"Exciting Times is Irish author Naoise Dolan’s debut and it is buzzing. It tells the story of Ava, an Irish woman in her early 20s teaching English to children in Hong Kong. She falls into a strange, dependent relationship with wealthy English banker Julian and then falls in love with young Hong Kong-born lawyer Edith. The love triangle plays out in the way love triangles tend to, but it is not drama that makes this story so compelling. Rather it is the way in which Dolan tells it.
It is a pithy novel. The writing is spare. No words are wasted, making this a tight and satisfying read. I found Dolan’s use of language and her examination of its subtleties particularly interesting. Astute observations on the interplay between language, class and power, and how this influences the conversations we have and how we approach relationships, are woven into the larger narrative in the same way a fully-formed thought can wander unbidden through the mind—for just a moment, there is startling clarity. There are many such moments in Exciting Times."
— Reviewed by our bookseller Kate