talking at night book review

Book Review: Talking at Night by Claire Daverley

Pub DateJune 6, 2023
PublisherPenguin, Michael Joseph imprint
Page Count400 pages
GenreRomance, Contemporary, Lit Fic
Goodreads Star Rating3.98 
My Star Rating 3
talking at night book review

Talking at Night Book Summary

Talking at Night is a romance novel that explores love, relationships, mental health, loss, and more. It centers on Will and Rosie who meet one night at a party and hit it off. They continue to interact since Will is Rosie’s twin brother’s friend. However, it’s not easy because they come from two different worlds — Rosie wants a bright future as a lawyer and focuses on her studies while Will only wants to travel and go where the wind takes him. Still, they meet in secret and spend time together until a tragedy hits and Will and Rosie are torn apart. Throughout the novel, they weave in and out of each other’s lives, never quite being together, but changing each other nevertheless. 

Talking at Night Book Review

Talking at Night was quite good for the first one hundred pages. While not built on a bad premise, it drags on for far too long without saying a whole lot. It employs some overused tropes (eg. good girl and bad boy) without subverting them or exploring them further. At certain points, the prose feels very Wattpad-esque too. “Storm-gray on blue”, the main character says while meeting eyes with her love interest.

I never understood why Will and Rosie cared about each other so much. We get snippets of their conversations, but most of it is summarized. It feels as if Will might truly care about Rosie, for whatever reason, but Rosie only likes Will because he’s good-looking and wants her. Will abandons everything to be with her, while Rosie goes on most of the time as if Will doesn’t exist (unless she needs him).  

For example, he saves up for an entire year to go to Thailand, and on the day he’s meant to leave, Rosie shows up at his door, crying. This after barely speaking for an entire year. Of course, he abandons this trip and stays with Rosie to comfort her. 

Overall, it’s not a bad book. It just doesn’t scratch the surface of its characters or its storyline. It could have been excellent, even — if it picked a lane between being a standard romance book and a lit fic novel. Covering tropey and surface-level elements with Rooney-esque prose doesn’t work in its favor. 


  • Good prose most of the time
  • Dialogue is quick-paced and believable
  • Some great side characters
  • Melancholy atmosphere

Read Talking at Night if You Like…

  • A romance that develops over time
  • Messy, complicated relationships
  • Mental health rep (OCD and depression, though I can’t speak to its accuracy)
  • Coming of age
  • Less plot, more vibes

I also wanted to add a few things you might want to know before reading:

  • There are no quotation marks in dialogue
  • Talking at Night is written in third POV, from both Will and Rosie’s perspectives
  • It features some heavy drinking, OCD and other mental health issues that might be triggering
  • There’s a character death pretty early on (accidental)

Books Like Talking at Night by Claire Daverley

Whether you liked Talking at Night (and want similar books) or didn’t like it and would like recommendations of books that do it better, here are my top picks of books similar to Talking at Night. 

1. Normal People by Sally Rooney 

This book follows Connel and Marianne, who meet as teenagers, have a secret relationship, and then continue to weave in and out of each other’s lives as they grow up. It’s very good, brilliantly written and digs deep into the characters, their mental health, and intimacy. One of my favorite things about it is how Connel’s depression was handled, and how every miscommunication makes sense for the characters. It’s tender and lovely. 

And if you end up liking Normal People, you should also try Beautiful World, Where Are You, which is similarly romantic and lovely, though less melancholy. 

2. One Day by David Nichols

One Day is the original template of a romance that stretches over a large number of years with the main leads influencing each other throughout. It follows Dexter and Emma who meet at uni, have great night together, but decide to just be friends. Over the next 20 years, they keep supporting each other through relationships, good times, bad times, and more. There’s a movie with Anne Hathaway and even a new TV show. So, you have your pick of One Day media you can consume. 

3. You, Again by Kate Goldbeck

If you’re willing to read something that is very much a romance novel, but does a much better job at the romance and digging deeper into its characters, you should read You, Again by Kate Goldbeck (full review here). Its main characters, Ari and Josh, meet when Josh comes over for a date with Ari’s roommate, who Ari has a crush on. Ari is a commitment-phobe while all Josh wants is a marriage and love. Over the years, they meet each other at the worst moments and end up becoming friends. Their banter is sharp and funny, there are some great side characters, and heavy New York vibes. 

And some honorable mentions…

  • The Idiot by Elif Batuman (if you want more coming of age, figuring yourself out vibes)
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (if you want to see a group of friends grow up and grow together + exploration of creativity)
  • Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors (if you want more messy, complicated relationships)


Is Talking at Night spicy?

While Talking at Night does contain sex scenes which are mildly explicit, they’re not frequent and spice is non-existent while they’re still teenagers. This book focuses more on the emotional connection between the characters, so don’t expect wild or very explicit spice. 

Is Talking at Night sad?

Yes, it features a character death early on which is truly sad. Other than that, the main characters go through a lot of emotional turmoil, and the whole book has a melancholy vibe too.

Where is Talking at Night set?

The majority of the book is set in Norfolk, which is the home town of our main characters. As they grow up, the story starts involving Oxford and other places in the UK, and even some brief trips to countries like Montenegro.

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