7 homes for sale in Ireland that are RIGHT on the water
7 homes for sale in Ireland that are RIGHT on the water

Lauren Heskin

Ask The Expert: Surrogacy in Ireland – legally, what do I need to know?
Ask The Expert: Surrogacy in Ireland – legally, what do I need to know?

Karen Tobin

‘When your business is in design, good camera quality is essential’: Siobhan Lam on running interiors business April and the Bear
‘When your business is in design, good camera quality is essential’: Siobhan Lam on running...

Lauren Heskin

‘Comparing women and men’s sport goes against the spirit of, well, sport’
‘Comparing women and men’s sport goes against the spirit of, well, sport’

Edaein OConnell

6 steps to improve your gut health, according to a gastroenterologist
6 steps to improve your gut health, according to a gastroenterologist

IMAGE

Tokyo controversies: It’s 2021, why can’t the Olympics get it right?
Tokyo controversies: It’s 2021, why can’t the Olympics get it right?

Sarah Finnan

Tokyo 2020: When the Irish Olympic team are competing and how to watch them
Tokyo 2020: When the Irish Olympic team are competing and how to watch them

Sarah Finnan

‘Love Island’ is finally love islanding and last night’s episode was full of drama
‘Love Island’ is finally love islanding and last night’s episode was full of drama

Sarah Finnan

Glossier Solar Paint is your cheat for natural sun-kissed skin
Glossier Solar Paint is your cheat for natural sun-kissed skin

Holly O'Neill

Olympian swimmer “disappointed” she had to leave breastfeeding son at home
Olympian swimmer “disappointed” she had to leave breastfeeding son at home

Jennifer McShane

Image / Editorial

‘A Raw, Unflinching Reflection On Our Obsession With Being Loved’: Louise O’Neill’s Almost Love (Review)


by Erin Lindsay
28th Feb 2018

I think my favourite thing about Louise O’Neill’s work is that it makes me really uncomfortable. I know, I know but hear me out. I read her books voraciously, feeling uneasy throughout. I put the book down and sit with it for a while until it comes- that feeling of realisation, vindication, knowing that the way I see the world has changed a little bit. That’s what keeps me coming back every time.

Ever since her debut with Only Ever Yours, followed by Asking for It, the book that launched a national conversation about consent, O’Neill has made a career out of making us face the uncomfortable. Almost Love, her first offering to adult readers, is no exception. It follows Sarah, a struggling artist who is living in Dublin as a secondary school teacher, juggling her dwindling relationship with her boyfriend Oisín, uncomfortable conversations with her father, and the gnawing memory of her ex (if you can call him an ex) Matthew.

The story follows Sarah’s continued obsession with Matthew, an older man with whom she had a sexual relationship years before, that she just can’t seem to get over. The book flips between Sarah’s life previously and how she came to meet the man that would affect her for years to come, and her life in the present day, struggling to maintain her personal relationships with ripples of Matthew running through them.

Speaking to the Irish Times last weekend, O’Neill touched on the idea of likeability and how women and girls are bred to always be attractive. “I think the reason I keep coming back to this is that I feel it so strongly. I have to really watch myself, the urge to be charming, and make this person like me, and really win them over.” she said. The theme of likeability and attractiveness runs through all of O’Neill’s work to date. The main characters believe that how their lives will progress depends on how attractive they are to the opposite sex, whether in a literal sense in Only Ever Yours or more subtly in Asking for It.

What rips main character Sarah apart in the book is the idea that she is not ‘interesting’ or ‘sexy’ enough to keep the experienced Matthew Brennan. It’s an uncomfortable idea because as modern women, we constantly tell ourselves and each other that our worth does not depend on physical beauty, and certainly not on a man’s opinion. But come across any group of teenagers vying for each other’s attention and you’ll see what Sarah sees in the book; young girls “already burdened with the necessity of being beautiful”. Young girls seem to learn early on that their worth depends on their attractiveness – and Louise O’Neill is helping them to un-learn that, one paragraph at a time.

O’Neill forces us to confront the parts of ourselves that we keep hidden; vulnerability, obsessiveness, irrationality, desperation. Sarah is not a likable character- she does and says things in her story that are unacceptable. But as much as we may hate to admit it, we recognise parts of ourselves in her and her actions. Almost Love is a raw, unflinching reflection on our obsession with being loved and how society molds women to compete for that love. It’s an exciting transition to adult fiction from Ireland’s most exciting Young Adult writer. A must-read.

Almost Love is released 1st March 2018 

Image: Louise O’Neill via Twitter

Also Read

AGENDA, EDITORIAL
No, the Olympics haven’t given athletes ‘anti-sex’ cardboard beds

Despite some media coverage, the beds are actually focused on sustainability as opposed to intimacy restrictions. Recently, distance runner Paul...

By Jennifer McShane

EDITORIAL
Book gift ideas for every kind of reader

Anyone who said books and socks make for boring gifts has clearly never received a delightfully absorbing book or a...

By Amanda Kavanagh

EDITORIAL
‘Quite interesting’: Princess Anne comments on The Crown

We’ve all heard that the royal family don’t exactly gather round to watch The Crown, but one member has shared...

By Jennifer McShane

DIY wall murals
EDITORIAL
People are getting creative with their walls in lockdown and we’re dying to give it a go

While staying at home and with plenty of time to spare, creative people are turning to their walls as a...

By Megan Burns

EDITORIAL
‘We went to the zoo today – and life felt deliciously normal’

What’s seldom is truly wonderful, writes Amanda Cassidy Dublin Zoo has been the backdrop to our children’s lives – birthday...

By Amanda Cassidy

stress
EDITORIAL
Are you up the walls? How the language of stress causes stress

Do you find yourself talking about how busy and stressed you are? With stress, the words we speak are like...

By Sophie White

EDITORIAL
Laura Whitmore’s baby name retaliation is about so much more than double standards

The Love Island presenter has divided social media after she singled out a journalist trying to confirm the name of...

By Amanda Cassidy