Three Rooms

Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2021. 208p. ISBN 9780358572091. $25. F
DEBUT Room one: An unnamed narrator has come to Oxford to work as a low-paid teaching assistant and rent a room in a shared house. The house, which has been endlessly repurposed from its grand 19th-century design, once belonged to the author and bon vivant Walter Pater, whose aesthetic philosophy interests the narrator. Room two is hardly a room. When her teaching assignment comes to an end, the narrator heads to London, where her minimum wage job copyediting a society magazine pays her only enough to afford a couch in the living room of her bossy roommate’s apartment. After that contract ends, room three lives only in the narrator’s imagination—a room of her own, in a home of her own where she might settle in, acquire some friends and furnishings, have a life.
VERDICT In Brexit-era Britain, a generation of privileged, well-educated young people find themselves underemployed and just scraping by. Hamya paints a cloudy picture of the future for this generation, in a thoughtful novel about the increasingly elusive dream of home ownership.
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