The Rachel Incident

Books on Tape. Jun. 2023. 9:23 hrs. ISBN 9780593741887. $76. F
O’Donoghue’s (Promising Young Women) latest takes listeners to 2010 Cork, Ireland, where university student Rachel Murray and her bookstore coworker, James Devlin, become fast friends and decide to rent a flat together. Rachel has a huge crush on her handsome married English professor, Fred Byrne, but then she finds out that he is attracted to James instead. She soon becomes involved with a different James—James Carey—who doesn’t seem ready for a real commitment. When he leaves school to care for his ailing parents, she loses hope for the future of their relationship, but by then, troubles of a different sort come to pass. Rachel and James navigate 2010s Ireland, trying to make ends meet amid a recession and juggling their increasingly complicated romantic entanglements. Narrator Tara Flynn offers an engaging performance, capturing the liveliness of Rachel and her friends while conveying their stress as they work through questions about sexuality, financial woes, and debates about reproductive rights. Flynn provides wonderful character voices and employs a variety of accents to make the story come alive.
VERDICT O’Donoghue’s complex coming-of-age story captures the fun, messiness, and unpredictability of youth. A winner for fans of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends.
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