Last Updated on January 23, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1108
Frances is an intelligent 21-year-old woman who is currently a university student. Although she often appears unemotional and detached, she yearns for love and approval. Despite her ego and somewhat selfish nature, she is very insecure, especially about her physical appearance. She likes to wear dark clothes and often wishes to be more like Bobbi. Bobbi thinks that she “doesn’t have a real personality,” because she is too reserved and “polite.” She is a poet, and she and Bobbi do poetry performances together. Frances doesn’t want to think or talk about economic and financial stability, but she is aware that she will have to work in order to provide for herself. Her parents are divorced and live separately in Ballina. She has a complicated relationship with her father, as he is an alcoholic. She loves both Nick and Bobbi, and at the end of the novel it is suggested that she might be dating both of them. Frances has endometriosis and suffers from excruciating abdominal pain, and she occasionally harms herself in order to feel better.
Bobbi is Frances’s best friend and occasional lover. She is a radiantly attractive and incredibly charismatic young woman who is capable of grabbing everyone’s attention. Her striking appearance and cool demeanor draw people towards her. She is very opinionated and someone “who is never fully serious, but also never fully joking.” She studies history and politics and enjoys having political and social debates in which she demonstrates her feminist and liberal views. She is a gay woman who is very open with her emotions, and unlike Frances she is not afraid of showing vulnerability. She has a mischievous demeanour and spent a lot of time in detention when she was younger. She dislikes the rich, even though she comes from a rich family. Bobbi is unemployed and has never actually worked a day in her life, but she loves talking with people about their jobs.
Nick is a 32-year-old B-list actor, who has starred in several plays, films and TV shows. He is described as a kind and handsome man, with a pronounced bone structure and a soft mouth. He’s married to Melissa, but they sleep in separate bedrooms, because their marriage is not as passionate as it used to be. He studied English and French at college and considers himself a Marxist who “doesn’t want to be judged for owning a house.” He comes from a wealthy family and has two siblings and a niece, whom he loves very much. He used to suffer from depression and was even hospitalized. At first, he is intrigued by Frances and her intellect, but as time passes, he slowly starts to fall in love with her. Even though the book has an open ending, it is presumed that Nick and Frances rekindle their relationship.
Melissa is a 37-year-old successful writer and photographer who writes for several literary websites. She is bisexual and, according to her husband, has had several affairs. Melissa thinks that she and Frances are quite similar in character, which is perhaps why they both fell in love with Nick. She loves her husband, but she is also aware that Frances makes him happier. In this sense, she wonders whether she has failed as a wife.
Frances’s mother misses her daughter greatly and supports her in her choices. However, Frances feels that her mom isn’t very interested in her personal life. She gets along with Bobbi, as she is a social democrat and Bobbi identifies as a ‘communitarian anarchist,’ and the two of them have long discussions about the Spanish Civil War. She and her husband live separately.
Frances’s father is an alcoholic. He lives in a little terrace house in Ballina. When Frances was little, she either ignored her father, which made her mother cry, or she humored him when he...
(The entire section contains 1108 words.)
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