The Conversations


The Conversations: 66 Reasons to Start Talking is an odd but strangely absorbing little book. Novelist, mother of five sons, and ex-probation officer Olivia Fane loves to talk -- not small talk, but big discussions about provocative and person topics, what we used to call when I was young 'deep and meaningfuls.' 

Here she collects 66 short essays, only a couple of pages long, on various topics (fame, violence, jealousy, forgiveness, mirrors, cooking, sex), lets us know her thoughts on the matter -- Fane might be open to debating, but she is quite decided in her opinions, she reminds me of an English aunty with full confidence in her own conclusions -- and then poses a list of questions for us to explore with a conversational partner, perhaps a friend, a spouse, or a stranger at a party or a bus stop.

Sample questions: At a party, do you often feel an outsider and want to go home?

    Do you believe in ghosts?

    Have you ever tried to change your behaviour to please a partner?

    What has been the loneliest time of your life?

    Have you ever been a feminist? (Der!)

    Can you think of an act of free will which has changed your life?

Well, you get the gist. I enjoyed Fane's company through these chapters, though I certainly didn't agree with her on everything, and I did actually use some of her questions to start conversations with my husband. At the end of each chapter I did stop and think about the questions. Some were easy to answer (like the one about feminism), some were much harder (like the act of free will).

As someone who struggles for small talk at the best of times, I'm planning to tuck this book away for long car drives or boat trips (one day...) with the hope of sparking some really meaty D&Ms in future.

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