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Conversations with Friends

Recap & Book Summary



The Quick Recap and Chapter-by-Chapter Summary for Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney are below. Spoiler warning: these summaries contains spoilers.

For a non-spoiler version of the plot synopsis, see The Bibliofile's review of Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney.

Quick(-ish) Recap

In Part One, Frances and Bobbi, 21-year-old college students in Dublin, are a spoken-word poetry duo. At the beginning of the summer after their junior year, they befriend an older couple, Melissa (37) and Nick (32). Melissa is a semi-famous essayist/writer, and Nick is a handsome actor.

Frances's parents divorced when she was young, since her father was an abusive drunk, but he still gives Frances an allowance which she feels guilty taking. Frances also tends to self-harm when she is upset. Frances's mother encourages her to be forgiving of her father.

Bobbi is gay, Frances and Melissa are bisexual and Nick is straight. Frances and Bobbi previously dated for a year in high school, but are now platonic. Meanwhile, Melissa and Nick are going through a rough patch in their marriage and no longer sleeping together. As the duos spend time together, Frances and Nick develop an interest in one another, while Melissa and Bobbi are more drawn to each other.

Eventually, Frances and Nick begin an affair. (Nick mentions to Frances that he has never cheated before this, but Melissa has in the past.) When Nick soon goes out of town, Frances feels miserable without him, but she acts coldly towards him when she feels insecure. Meanwhile, Nick sends mixed messages. In August, Frances and Bobbi end up taking up an offer to vacation with Nick and Melissa at a villa in France. Frances and Nick resume their affair, but Nick admits he still loves his wife.

In Part Two, in late August, Frances and Bobbi return to Dublin. Bobbi needs housing and moves in with Frances. Meanwhile, Frances is dismayed to realize that she is in (unrequited) love with Nick, and she has sex with a random guy off Tinder. She immediately tells Nick, who accuses her of rubbing his face in it. She also asks Nick to hit her after they have sex, but he refuses.

When Frances has a bout of abdominal pain and bleeding, she is hospitalized and an ultrasound is scheduled. After a second bout and blackout, Bobbi and Nick take care of her. The next day, Nick tells Frances that he has confessed to Melissa about the affair, and Melissa knows they will continue seeing each other. However, Melissa tells Frances that Nick ultimately won't leave her (Melissa). She also says that Nick is someone who will say what you want to hear and is so passive that he wants a partner who will take all responsibility for his actions in relationships. Despite the revelation, the foursome remains friends. Nick also confides in Frances about how he was depressed and ended up in a psychiatric treatment facility the previous year, which is when his marriage started getting rocky and when Melissa began her own (now terminated) affair.

Around this time, Frances is broke because her father has neglected to deposit her allowance. Melissa's mentor, Valerie, hooks Frances up with the editor of a literary magazine who offers generous compensation to publish a story that Frances wrote about Bobbi (which is somewhat unflattering), which Frances neglects to tell Bobbi about. When Bobbi finds out, she is furious and moves out.

In early November, Frances gets an ultrasound, and the doctor says she has endometriosis, an incurable uterine disease that causes pain and possibly infertility. Nick also tells her that he and Melissa are sleeping together again. Soon, Nick and Frances break things off, and Frances purposely cuts herself, badly.

At the end of the month, after another bout of pain and fainting, Frances finds herself at a church, praying to God. Afterwards, she finally reaches out Bobbi to apologize. They have an honest conversation about their break-up. Bobbi tells Frances that Frances tries to convince herself that others don't care about her in order to justify treating people badly. Frances admits she still resents Bobbi for breaking her heart. The two end up sort-of getting back together and growing closer again.

The book ends with Nick accidentally dialing Frances's number a short while later. They talk about what went wrong and he says he always knew it wasn't going to "work out", but the conversation ends with Frances saying "come and get me", implying that they will ultimately resume their messy affair.

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Chapter-by-Chapter Summary

Part One

Chapter 1

Frances and Bobbi Connolly are spoken-word poets, who meet a semi-famous essayist and writer, Melissa, at a poetry night. Melissa introduces them to her husband Nick Conway, a handsome actor. Bobbi and Frances are both queer and anti-capitalist.

Frances and Bobbi first met at secondary school. They dated for over year before breaking up a few months after graduation, but continued to perform spoken-word poetry together. It’s the summer after their third year at university when they meet Melissa, who is interested in doing a profile on them. They agree, but Bobbi admits to Frances that she has a crush on Melissa.

Chapter 2

Soon, Frances and Bobbi go to Melissa and Nick’s to have dinner and to work on the profile. Frances writes all the poetry that she and Bobbi perform, but she lies and says that Bobbi helps, too. (Bobbi is the superior performer.) Melissa seems to have more of an interest in Bobbi, while Nick privately tells Frances that he’s more drawn to her (Frances) as a person. Afterwards, Bobbi comments to Frances that she thinks Melissa and Nick are unhappy as a couple.

As a backdrop, around this time Bobbi’s parents (Eleanor and Jerry) are going through an acrimonious divorce, and Bobbie’s 14-year-old sister Lydia is not handling it well. Frances recalls how her own parents divorced when she was twelve, and how she’d grown up in Dublin with her mother. She now lives in an apartment belonging to her father’s brother.

Frances is also working at a literary agency as a summer intern. The other intern, Phillip, jokes about how they are “rich assholes” to be able to afford to take unpaid internships and use that experience to get jobs, but Frances tells him that she has no intention of getting a job.

Chapter 3

While Bobbi is poised and beautiful, she can also be abrasive or treat men with contempt. At their performances, Bobbi is generally cool and detached towards the other performers, so Frances often take on the role of being nice to people and remembering things about them. Her behavior prompts Bobbi to comment that Frances doesn’t have “a real personality” of her own, since she is just accommodating others.

When Melissa sends over the photos she took over dinner for the profile, Frances is surprised and pleased to discover that she was given equal attention, as opposed to Bobbi being the star of the shoot. Nick is in the photos, too. Still, Frances thinks that the photos don’t really reflect the reality of the dinner they went to, since in actuality the evening had revolved around Melissa, who is not depicted in any of the photos.

Later, Bobbi makes a point of letting Frances know that she has continued to be in touch with Melissa, and Frances admits to feeling inadequate and lacking accomplishments compared to Melissa, who has published a book and widely-read articles. Frances thinks about her own lack of ambition when it comes to making money. At the literary agency, she suspects her boss, Sunny, likes her specifically because of her lack of interest in getting a job there.

Melissa attends their next performance, and Nick shows up afterwards to give Melissa a ride home. Frances expresses interest in seeing a play (production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) that Nick is currently acting in, and the next day Melissa has arranged two tickets for her and Bobbi on Thursday to see it.

Chapter 4

Bobbi has plans with her father and can’t make the show, so Frances takes Phillip instead. They talk about how handsome Nick is and how much better he was compared to the quality of the production in general and the other actors. Afterwards, Frances frets about whether to e-mail Nick to thank him for the tickets. She spends a lot of time overthinking it before finally sending the e-mail.

Later, Frances asks Bobbi why she thinks that Melissa and Nick are an unhappy couple. Bobbi says Melissa seems depressed, that Nick is
a little “hostile” toward her, and Bobbi recalls them arguing with each other. Frances recalls some animosity, but disagrees with Bobbi’s negative characterization of Nick.

When Nick responds to Frances’s e-mail, they discuss Nick coming to see her and Bobbi perform.

Chapter 5

Frances considers herself more intelligent than “normal people”, and she uses her acknowledgement of it to comfort herself when bad things happen.

On Saturday, Frances arranges for her and Bobbi’s set to be later to accommodate Nick’s schedule. However, while Melissa attends, Nick is late and misses the set. Afterwards, they all chat, along with Phillip. Bobbi mentions that Frances is bisexual and Melissa says she (Melissa) is, too.

Chapter 6

For a while after that, they are in touch with Melissa sporadically and run into Melissa and Nick at various literary events. Nick picks up on how Bobbi seems only to be really interested in Melissa and not him. Meanwhile, Frances and Nick exchange e-mails on the side. At one point Melissa teasingly points out to Frances how she seems to have really “charmed” Nick and that he is flirting with her.

When Frances goes to visit her mother in Ballina, she tells her about Melissa and Nick. Frances feels a bit stung when her mother seems to think that she is overly impressed by this couple because they are wealthy and “posh”. She also thinks it’s add that this couple in their thirties (Nick is 32, Melissa is 37) wants to hang with a couple college kids.

Frances recalls how in her memories her parents never seemed very fond of one another. Her father had erratic, abusive “‘moods'” which would result in Frances and her mom staying with her mom’s sister, Bernie, instead. Afterwards, he would be sorry. In present day, Frances goes to visit him. The visit is subdued and uneventful, but Frances feels a desire to self-harm afterwards.

Chapter 7

In July, Frances and Bobbi attend Melissa’s birthday party. Nick is high, and he and Frances end up in a utility room alone. They first and kiss briefly, but then Nick stops it, saying that “we probably shouldn’t do that in here.” Later, Frances realizes she feels an aversion towards Melissa.

Chapter 8

The next afternoon, Frances receives and e-mail from Nick, apologizing for what happened and assuring her that behavior was not customary for him. When Frances and Bobbi chat the next day, Bobbi mentions that she thinks Melissa likes Frances as a person, and Frances feels uncomfortable. At work, Frances mentions to Phillip that she kissed someone she shouldn’t have, but doesn’t say who.

The next day, Frances and Bobbi see Nick and Melissa at a book launch, and Frances and Bobbi mention to each other how the two (Nick and Melissa) don’t sleep together anymore.

Chapter 9

The next week, Melissa is out of town, and Frances meets with Nick to talk. Nick mentions that Melissa has had multiple affairs, but he has not. Before they have sex, Frances tells him she’s never had sex with a man before. Afterwards, Frances cries, which has happened before after sex (Bobbi thinks it’s because of her repressed feelings).

Frances ends up staying with Nick through most of that week. She enjoys the sex, but likes the feeling of having power over him even more. She also becomes infatuated with the immaculate house. Still, she feels there is something “withholding” about him, and she notices that she always has to initiate kissing and he is not physically affectionate outside of the bedroom.

After work on Thursday, Frances and Phillip spot Nick with an unknown woman and holding a baby. He later explains it was his sister Laura and her daughter, Rachel. Before Melissa returns, Frances asks whether he has real feelings for her (Frances) or if it’s just about the sex, but Nick charmingly sidesteps the question.

Chapter 10

Frances soon gets an e-mail from Bobbi, who is hurt about a half-joking comment that Frances had made about her being “jealous” of Frances’s interest in Nick. Frances thinks about it, decides that Bobbi’s reaction is fair, and she apologizes. Still, Bobbi questions why Frances likes Nick.

Soon, Nick leaves for Scotland for work, and Frances finds herself missing him and watching clips of him online and in movies, etc. She’s miserable without him and feels “idiotic happiness” when she hears from him. Meanwhile, he suggests just getting back in touch when he returns, but then mentions that he’s going to be in France with Melissa through August with a half-hearted invitation for her to come visit them. Finally, she asks him “So are we still having an affair or is that over now?” He doesn’t give her a direct answer, but says that an affair is stressful and he doesn’t want to be worrying about it. Frances wants to talk to Bobbi about it, but feels humiliated over the whole thing.

Chapter 11

Melissa, too, sends over an invitation to visit them at the villa in Étables, France. Bobbi wants to go, and Frances agrees. Phillip goes with them. Frances lets Nick know she’ll be there, and his response is a generic “cool, it’ll be nice to see you”.

Chapter 12

In Étables, Melissa meets them at the bus stop. When they see Nick, he looks thin. It turns out that he’s been sick with pneumonia. At the house, they meet Melissa and Nick’s other friends, Evelyn and Derek. The group goes swimming, and when they’re alone Bobbi asks Frances how serious her crush on Nick is. Frances is again tempted to tell Bobbi the truth, but instead brushes off the question.

Chapter 13

Nick plans to drive to a shopping center nearby to pick up some chairs, and Bobbi and Frances join him. On the way back, they stop at a lake. Bobbi takes her top off to swim while Nick and Frances drink wine nearby. Nick takes the opportunity to apologize to Frances for what happened between them but Frances is defensive and has her guard up.

That night, Frances and Nick end up having sex again. Nick apologizes again for being distant the past few weeks, and Frances apologies for being cold with him.

Chapter 14

For the next two nights, Frances would sneak into Nick’s room after the rest of the house went to bed.

On the fourth night, Frances’s father calls her, drunk, which upsets her. She tells Nick about it. She acknowledges feeling guilty over taking an allowance from her father and not trying to do something about his drinking, like she’s an enabler. Nick then admits that he has depressive episodes and is on medication for it. Afterwards, Frances try to push Nick for some type of validation of his feelings for her, but doesn’t really get it. They have sex anyway.

Chapter 15

The next night, they play a party game and Bobbi uses it to tease Frances about her crush on Nick. However, everyone else including Melissa get the impression that Nick is interested in Frances, and Melissa tells Frances to let her know if Nick makes her uncomfortable in any way. She admits to Frances that Frances is Nick’s type.

Afterwards, Frances asks Nick why he’d start having an affair now. He admits that he and Melissa are having issues in their marriage, though he still loves Melissa. That night, Frances realizes how vulnerable she is here and that Nick doesn’t love her.

Chapter 16

The next day, Nick, Evelyn and Frances go to the grocery store together. They talk about how Valerie (who owns the house they’re all staying at) will be coming for dinner, so it’s a bit of a production. Melissa is a bit on-edge, and when they get back, Melissa gives Nick a hard time about forgetting to pick up lemons.

Bobbi tells Frances that she thinks Nick likes her back, but she also calls him a failed actor in a dead marriage. When Frances disagrees with her characterization, Bobbi tells her that Nick’s agent dropped him. Finally, Bobbi admits that she kissed Melissa the night of Melissa’s birthday party, but it was just a stupid thing.

Chapter 17

At dinner, Valerie is rude and lacks tact, insulting poetry and the publishing industry. When Nick leaves the room, she brings up Nick’s depression, despite it not being common knowledge. This angers Frances, who makes a pointed comment towards Valerie and abruptly leaves. Later, Melissa admits that she doesn’t like Valerie either, but Valerie is the reason her book got published.

Melissa also asks Frances point blank whether she’s sleeping with Nick, but Frances lies and says no. Later, Nick admits to Frances that Melissa asked him as well, but he also lied. After Frances and Nick have sex, Bobbi knocks on Nick’s door looking for Frances. He ends up admitting that Frances is in there with him. Frances reassures him that Bobbi won’t say anything.


Part Two

Chapter 18

It’s late August when they leave, and Frances heads to her mother’s house in Ballina to visit. That night, Frances bleeds badly, and the doctor suspects she may have been pregnant and miscarried. At the hospital, she is upset and calls Nick. However, before she can explain, he chides her for calling him, accusing her of trying to get him in trouble. She contemplates texting him, but decides not to.

(Mini sex-education sidenote for any younger readers out there: Frances tells the doctor that Nick never came inside her when being asked about whether she could be pregnant. However, it’s worth noting that the pull-out method is not always effective since pre-ejaculatory fluid can contain sperm and can get someone pregnant prior to ejaculation. Practice safe sex, guys!)

Frances turns out not to be pregnant, and her tests look normal. They plan to do an ultrasound to determine what’s wrong. Afterwards, the gynecologist checks her out and prescribes her birth control. Back at home, Frances takes a shower and self-harms just a little to feel better.

Chapter 19

Later, Frances’s mother asks (disapprovingly) if the person she’s seeing is Nick, but Frances dodges the question. The next day, Nick e-mails to apologize for being curt on the phone. Though she is not religious, Frances finds herself contemplating what the bible says about marriage (“what God has joined together, let not man separate”), and it makes her uncomfortable.

Frances finds an old clip of Nick as a ten-year-old kid on a TV show for genius kids that Nick and Bobbi had previously mentioned (Nick had talked about how he doesn’t get along with his parents, citing his parents making him do the show as an example of their behavior). In the clip, Nick looks uncomfortable as the interviewer asks him about having studied philosophy and written about metaphysics, and he ends up telling the interviewer that he dislikes studying philosophy.

A few days later, Frances talks to Bobbi and tells her about going to the hospital. Even though it was a false alarm pregnancy-wise, Bobbi criticizes Nick for not using a condom. When Frances defends him, Bobbi says she sounds “brainwashed”. Thinking about her friendship with Bobbi, Frances compiles a file with all their instant messages to read over. Later, Frances inspects herself in the mirror, picking herself apart and feeling revulsion at the sight of her body.

Frances’s mother encourages her to reach out and see her father. After she misses a call from him, Frances finally decides to go over there, but finds the house is empty and a disgusting mess, filled with bugs. Again, Frances feels the urge to self-harm.

Chapter 20

When her internship ends, Frances meets with Sunny who offers her a positive reference. Later, Frances chats with Nick (who is still in France), who tells her that he misses her. They talk until Nick gets interrupted by Melissa, and he gets off the phone.

Marianne, a friend of Frances and Bobbi, gets back into town after having been in Brooklyn all summer. They meet up with her, and Bobbi mentions she is looking for housing. Frances says that the second bedroom in her apartment will soon be available. After a chat with her dad (who asks his brother, who owns the apartment), Bobbi moves in.

Just before classes start back in the fall, Melissa’s profile on them is published. When they call to thank her for the article, they also tell Melissa that Bobbi has moved in, and they invite her over to their place sometime. Meanwhile, Frances has started her project of reading over all of her and Bobbi’s old text messages. She notes a conversation where Bobbi described her as “unemotional” and another where Frances had been trying to express her appreciation for Bobbi, but instead it turned into a conversation about their personal psychologies.

Chapter 21

With Nick and Melissa back from France, Nick goes over to see Frances a few times and they hook up. Frances finds it easy to talk to Nick, whose “sympathy seemed unconditional”. She compares this to Bobbi, who she doesn’t talk to about her father, who is more judgmental because she has “strong principles that she applied to everyone, me included”.

One day Nick and Frances talk about money when Frances makes a casual comment about wishing she had more financial freedom. Nick acknowledges that he has money that he’d be willing to give her (which he’d even prefer that she have), but that the transaction itself and the power dynamics behind it are what would bother him. Before he leaves that day, Frances realizes that she is in love with Nick. The next night Frances and Bobbi attend a book launch where Melissa is doing a reading. As she reads, Frances realizes a new kind of jealously towards Melissa. Frances tries to flirt with Bobbi to make Nick jealous, but Bobbi instantly knows what’s going on and stops it, cold. When Frances apologizes to Bobbi, Bobbi accepts it but also tells Frances that she feels “like i’m watching you disappear”.

When Frances goes home, she downloads a dating app. Later, Frances thinks again about the Bible and thinks about how she desires moral superiority over her enemies. Frances also tries meditation. But when her father calls to say he’d deposited money in her account, Frances feels guilty again. She soon goes on a date with a guy she met on the dating app, Rossa, and has sex with him. She feels nothing. After he leaves, she scratches her arm until it bleeds and then covers it up with a band-aid.

Chapter 22

The next day, Frances writes a short story. That night, Frances meets up with Bobbi and Phillip. Bobbi accidentally reveals to Phillip that Frances is having an affair with Nick, and he is disapproving.

Frances goes to stay with Nick for the weekend, and she admits to sleeping with the random Tinder guy. After they have sex, Frances asks Nick to hit her, but Nick doesn’t want to. He also tells her that she she can’t just “lash out at me whenever you feel bad”. He doesn’t like that she had sex with someone else and then came over to brag about it. When she points out that he’s married, he says that he thinks she prefers it that way, since “it means you can act out and I have to take the blame for everything”. He also says Frances doesn’t care that they’re lying to Melissa, she just wants to see him fight with her.

Before Frances leaves, she says the real problem is that she loves him and he doesn’t love her back, but he says he’s being dramatic. On the way home, she bites her inner cheek until she bleeds.

Chapter 23

When Frances goes to withdraw money from the bank, the teller informs her that her account is overdrawn. She tries to call her dad, but he doesn’t pick up. They day, she gets an e-mail from Valerie, who is asking to see her work. Despite her dislike of Valerie, Frances sends her the short story she’d written the other day.

That night, Frances feels unwell, her uterine problem is back, and she realizes she is bleeding a lot. But she sleeps it off, though she still feels pain the next day. On campus, she ends up blacking out. Bobbi asks if she needs to go to the hospital, but Frances says she’s getting a scan soon. Bobbi takes her home and runs a bath for her. As Frances soaks, Bobbi mention that she plans on working in a university someday, and Frances finds herself disappointed to imagine Bobbi doing something so mundane. Bobbi tells Frances that she has a tendency to imagine people she likes as being more special or different from others.

When Nick calls, Bobbi tells him what happened, and he heads over as well. When he gets there, Frances feels a rush of love for both Nick and Bobbi.

Chapter 24

Nick tells Frances that he has confessed to Melissa about their affair, and that she knows he is not going to stop seeing Frances. He also tells Frances that he loves her.

The next day, Frances gets an e-mail from Melissa. She calmly confirms that she’s aware of the situation, but wants to clear up what’s going on. Melissa says that she and Nick are staying together, and even if they didn’t, he wouldn’t marry Frances, so Frances should have no delusions that she is going to end up married to Nick. She also says that Nick is extremely weak-willed and will say whatever he thinks people want to hear, and he’s attracted to partners who will “take complete responsibility for all his decisions”. Melissa acknowledges she has cheated in the past (once a one-night stand and the other an affair that started when Nick was in a psychiatric facility), and she hates that because of it she doesn’t get to feel completely wronged by him.

Additionally, Melissa admits that him sleeping with someone younger is shocking to her, since she didn’t realize he was the type of person to prefer younger women. She also admits that being with Frances has been good for Nick. She ends the e-mail by offering to have dinner together sometime, and Frances responds, accepting.

Chapter 25

It’s now mid-October, and Frances has been calling her father twice a day about the money, but he hasn’t picked up. Frances and Bobbi continue to hang out with Nick and Melissa. Towards the end of the month, a man from a Dublin literary journal, Lewis, reaches out about the story Frances had sent to Valerie. He offers to publish it, saying the compensation will be around 800 euros, and Frances agrees to begin revisions to prepare it for publication. Frances re-reads the story and thinks about how it’s clearly recognizable as a story about Bobbi that is not entirely flattering.

Later, Frances thinks about how Nick likes to call Frances the “boss” in their relationship. He also tells Frances about losing his virginity at 15 to a girl who was 20 because he didn’t want to say no and hurt her feelings. Frances talks to him about how “curiously passive” he is. Nick points out that acting passive and helpless is not the same as being powerless. Instead, it can be used to exert control in relationships.

Nick becomes a constant presence at their apartment, and Bobbi doesn’t mind since he cooks and makes himself useful. He notices how poorly Frances eats and starts bringing over food. When Frances mentions that her dad has been unreliable lately about paying her allowance, Nick gives her some money as a loan.

By the end of the month, Frances’s story is ready to print in January, which would solve all her financial troubles and allow her to not be financially dependent on her father. Bobbi and Frances get together with Marianne and her boyfriend, Andrew, as well as Phillip and a girl he was recently started seeing, Camille. They get into a discussion when Bobbi argues against the idea that humans are meant to be monogamous, instead believing that the desire for monogamy is an orientation, like sexual orientation. The others get impatient and uncomfortable as Bobbi keeps talking, but Frances likes listening to Bobbi’s opinions.

Later, Bobbi fills in Frances on her parent’s divorce. Things have been difficult because her father, Jerry, doesn’t want to get divorced. Then, Bobbi kisses Frances, before pulling away.

Chapter 26

The next day, Nick tells Frances about what had gone on last year. He says he had been overworked and suffered a lung collapse while in the U.S. for work. When he got home, he didn’t want to go out, and Melissa was annoyed. They’d also originally wanted children, but Melissa increasingly didn’t want to discuss it. They began fighting a lot. He started sleeping a lot and losing weight until he was admitted into a psychiatric unit. Melissa started an affair with, Chris, a mutual friend at that time. When he got out, Melissa wanted a divorce at first, but they talked and agreed to stay together. Nick admits that he’d been feeling low and pathetic when he met Frances.

Nick suggests a weekend away in Venice, and Nick happens to run into Frances’s mother, who is polite to him.

That night, Bobbi walks in with Frances’s story, which Melissa sent to her. She’s angry. She says spitefully that it’s actually a good story before tearing up the pages and leaving. The next morning, Frances’s mother picks her up for her ultrasound.

Chapter 27

At the hospital, the ultrasound is clear, but the doctor thinks Frances likely has endometriosis, which is not curable. It means there are benign uterine cells growing outside her uterus. It can cause pain, discomfort during sex and often leaves women infertile. Afterwards, she doesn’t want to talk about it and tells her mother it’s just bad period pain.

Later, Nick calls to tell Frances that he and Melissa have started sleeping together again. The information makes Frances go cold and she reacts dispassionately about it.

Chapter 28

The next week, Frances gets a job at the library, determined to pay Nick his money back. She also proceeds to avoid seeing him. She finally calls him on Friday. She admits the call threw her, but then says that she’s fine. He reminds her that it’s “not a sign of weakness to have feelings”, but Frances refuses to admit her feelings despite being hostile towards him.

The next night is Nick’s 33rd birthday party. Frances attends, but acts dispassionately towards Nick and Melissa. She meets Nick’s sister and baby Rachel again, and she remarks repeatedly over how beautiful the baby is. She leaves early, and Nick asks if anything is wrong, but he doesn’t follow. That night, Frances gets a call from her father, who apologizes for being unreliable about the money, saying that it’s been a tough year for him.

The next day, Nick calls Frances, knowing something is wrong. Frances doesn’t acknowledge anything, but when she suggests they stop seeing each other he quickly agrees. Afterwards, Frances thinks about how quickly he ended things with her once Melissa wanted him back. Frances then cuts herself and it bleeds quite badly. She recalls how after Bobbi had broken up with her, she’d stood in the shower until the hot water had run out and then stayed there until her fingers turned blue, giving herself hypothermia.

Chapter 29

Frances ends up getting a job at a sandwich shop. She finds herself hoping Bobbi never sees her in there, preferring to let Bobbi imagine that she is making an income by writing now. Frances also ended up telling her mother about finally getting in touch with her father, but it resulted in an argument where Frances called her mother an “enabler”.

Near the end of November, Frances sees a video on Facebook of Melissa and Nick happily singing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” as a duet while their friends cheer them on. When she gets her second paycheck, she mails Nick a letter with the 200 euros she had borrowed from him.

Frances notices a pain and finds herself wandering to a church, where she sits on a pew and prays to God for help. Then, she collapses. A woman helps her up, and Frances goes home and calls Melissa. She demands to know why Melissa sent Bobbi her story, and Melissa responds by saying “I don’t know, Frances. Why did you f— my husband?” When Frances pushes back, Melissa then says that she feels Frances treated her with contempt from the beginning. Finally, Frances ends up apologizing to Melissa about how she treated her.

Afterwards, Frances e-mails Bobbi an apology as well, saying that she’s not sorry she wrote the story, but that she should have told her about it. She also tells Bobbi that she loves her. Bobbi responds to say she loves her as well.

Chapter 30

That night, Frances and Bobbi finally discuss their break-up, which they had not previously done. Bobbi says that Frances had made her unhappy by doing things like laughing at her when she was arguing about stuff. Bobbi says that Frances underestimates the power she has on people in order to excuse her own bad behavior. By telling herself that she’s not capable of hurting others, she can treat them poorly, claiming that she is merely defending herself. Frances admits that she still sees Bobbi as the person who broke her heart.

After that, Bobbi and Frances get back together as a sort-of couple (though Bobbi refuses to define Frances as her girlfriend because it represents a “prefabricated cultural dynamic”) and grow closer again while Bobbi and Melissa stay in touch, but less so. Bobbi and Frances talk about how Melissa and Nick are in a codependent relationship.

When Frances tells Phillip how things resolved, he mentions that people seemed to think the situation was was even more sordid than what really happened — they think Frances was sleeping with both Melissa and Nick as some sort of “weird sex thing”, and Frances is upset to hear about the rumors.

Meanwhile, Frances continues to hide her diagnosis from Bobbi, and she takes painkillers everyday to ward of potential pain. She also gets calls from her father who seems increasingly unwell. He is paranoid and tells her that he has “bad thoughts”. Her mother notices that he’s even more unwell than usual, and she tells Frances that she tried to say something to him about it. Her mother tells Frances that her father isn’t tough like her (Frances), and that he doesn’t know how to cope with things. Frances tells her mother that she does love their father, and it makes her mother happy.

Chapter 31

A week later, Nick finally calls, but it’s an accident. He’s at the supermarket, and he meant to call Melissa. Frances asks why he didn’t call, and he says that it’s because she asked him not to. Frances then asks him for advice, telling him about her endometriosis, and asking whether she should tell Bobbi. He encourages her to tell Bobbi. When Frances comments that she should have known it wasn’t going to “work out”, Nick says “Didn’t we always know that?” and Frances tells him that she did not.

In the conversation they dance around the topic of whether to start things up again, and how things would be different if they did. The book ends with Frances saying “Come and get me” to Nick (implying that the messy state of affairs is going to continue).

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