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The key points of 'Exciting Times: Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021' by Naoise Dolan

'Exciting Times: Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021' by Naoise Dolan is a captivating novel that delves into the lives of its complex characters while exploring themes of identity and society. The narrative style and structure of the book add depth to the story, making it a compelling read for fans of contemporary fiction.

Key Takeaways

  • Character development plays a crucial role in driving the story forward, offering readers a deeper understanding of the protagonists.

  • The intricate relationship dynamics portrayed in the novel add layers of complexity to the narrative, keeping readers engaged throughout.

  • The exploration of identity in 'Exciting Times' prompts reflection on personal growth and self-discovery.

  • The critique of society within the novel sheds light on societal norms and expectations, sparking thought-provoking discussions.

  • The unique point of view and timeline manipulation in the narrative enhance the reading experience, offering a fresh perspective on storytelling.

Exploring the Complex Characters

Character Development

In 'Exciting Times', Naoise Dolan skillfully portrays the evolution of her characters, making their personal growth a central pillar of the narrative. Ava, the protagonist, is a prime example of this, as readers witness her journey from uncertainty to a more self-assured individual. Her development is intricately linked with her experiences in love and work, mirroring the complexities many young women face in modern society.

Imposter syndrome is a recurring theme in Ava's story, reflecting a broader societal issue that many readers will find relatable. The novel does not shy away from the challenges of work-life balance and the pursuit of career success, often highlighting the gender bias that women must navigate. Dolan's characters are not static; they are constantly adapting, learning, and striving for self-confidence amidst the trials they encounter.

The following list encapsulates the key aspects of character development in the novel:

  • Overcoming personal doubts and societal expectations

  • Navigating relationship dynamics and professional challenges

  • Building self-confidence and resilience

  • Addressing and challenging gender bias

Relationship Dynamics

In 'Exciting Times', the intricate web of relationships forms the backbone of the narrative. Ava, the protagonist, finds herself entangled in a complex love triangle that tests the boundaries of her emotional resilience. The dynamics between the characters are fraught with tension and unspoken desires, reflecting the often messy reality of human connections.

Intimacy and power play significant roles in how the characters interact with one another. Ava's relationships with Julian and Edith are not just about affection but also about leverage and control. The push and pull of their interactions reveal much about their individual characters:

  • Ava's vulnerability and search for identity

  • Julian's detachment and enigmatic nature

  • Edith's assertiveness and cultural insights

The novel does not shy away from depicting the raw and often uncomfortable aspects of love and friendship. It challenges the reader to consider the importance of understanding introversion and extroversion in forming deep and meaningful connections.

Themes and Social Commentary

Exploration of Identity

In 'Exciting Times', Naoise Dolan delves into the intricate tapestry of self-discovery and personal identity. The protagonist's journey is not just about finding love or navigating complex social terrains; it's a deeper quest for self-understanding amidst the chaos of expatriate life.

The fluidity of identity is a central theme, as characters grapple with the labels imposed by society and those they choose for themselves. Dolan's characters are constantly evolving, shedding old skins and trying on new ones in a bid to find where they truly belong.

Identity is not static but rather a dynamic interplay of cultural, sexual, and personal factors:

  • The influence of expatriate experiences

  • The impact of socio-economic status

  • The role of language in shaping perception

Critique of Society

Naoise Dolan's 'Exciting Times' offers a sharp critique of society, particularly focusing on the intricacies of class, gender, and the expatriate experience. The novel delves into the economic disparities that shape personal relationships and individual choices.

  • The portrayal of the expat community highlights the transient nature of such lifestyles and the often-unspoken hierarchies within.

  • Through the protagonist's interactions, the narrative examines the commodification of love and the transactional dynamics in personal relationships.

  • Dolan's characters navigate a world where social status and financial stability are intertwined, revealing the subtle pressures and expectations imposed by society.

Narrative Style and Structure

Point of View

Naoise Dolan's Exciting Times is distinguished by its first-person narrative, providing an intimate glimpse into the protagonist's mind. The choice of point of view is crucial, as it shapes the reader's understanding of the characters and the world they inhabit.

  • The narrative is presented through Ava's perspective, coloring the events with her unique voice and biases.

  • This perspective allows for a deep exploration of Ava's internal conflicts and her perceptions of others.

  • The reader is privy to Ava's thoughts and feelings, which may not always align with her actions or the perspectives of other characters.

Timeline Manipulation

Naoise Dolan's Exciting Times employs a non-linear approach to storytelling, which serves to deepen the reader's understanding of the characters and their motivations. The manipulation of the timeline is a deliberate technique that reflects the complexities of memory and perception.

  • The narrative jumps back and forth in time, revealing key events in a non-chronological order.

  • This structure invites readers to piece together the story, much like a puzzle.

  • It emphasizes the impact of past experiences on present behavior.

By challenging the traditional linear narrative, Dolan encourages readers to question their own interpretations of the story and the reliability of the narrator. The technique is not just a stylistic choice but a thematic one, resonating with the book's exploration of identity and the fluidity of human relationships.


In conclusion, 'Exciting Times: Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021' by Naoise Dolan is a captivating novel that delves into themes of love, identity, and societal expectations. With its compelling characters and thought-provoking narrative, the book offers readers a unique perspective on modern relationships and the complexities of human emotions. Naoise Dolan's writing style and storytelling prowess shine through in this novel, making it a must-read for those interested in contemporary fiction.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes 'Exciting Times' by Naoise Dolan stand out in terms of character development?

The characters in 'Exciting Times' are intricately developed with layers of complexity, making them relatable and engaging for readers.

How does the author explore relationship dynamics in the novel?

Naoise Dolan delves into the complexities of relationships, portraying the intricacies of human connections and emotions.

What themes related to identity are explored in 'Exciting Times'?

The novel delves into themes of self-discovery, questioning one's identity, and the search for authenticity in a modern world.

In what ways does 'Exciting Times' critique society?

Naoise Dolan offers a critical examination of societal norms, class distinctions, and the impact of external influences on individuals.

What is the narrative style employed in 'Exciting Times'?

The novel is written in a captivating and engaging narrative style that immerses readers in the characters' thoughts and experiences.

How does the author manipulate the timeline in 'Exciting Times'?

Naoise Dolan skillfully plays with the timeline, creating a non-linear narrative that adds depth and intrigue to the storytelling.

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