Search icon


17th May 2024

The gripping Irish novel is just as good as Normal People

Kat O'Connor

This novel was one of my most enjoyable reads of 2024 so far

If you’re looking for a novel that isn’t 800 pages and won’t take a lifetime to read then I’ve got a recommendation for you.

I wish I was the type of person who could blitz through hefty novels, but a 300-page contemporary fiction book is the way to my heart.

This year, I’ve been trying to focus on reading books that I want to rather than what’s trending on BookTok. I was kindly sent a copy of The Couples by Lauren Mackenzie and it was always standing out whenever I looked through my bookshelves.

I picked it up on Friday night and I am so glad I did.

One person has described the novel as Normal People for adults and they couldn’t be more right.

It’s a thrilling contemporary fiction novel set in Dublin and it follows three pretty complex couples.

If, like me, you adore novels set in Ireland then this will be a thoroughly enjoyable read for you. There’s something weirdly comforting about familiar places and references dotted throughout an Irish-based book that always draws me in. I often find myself connecting with the characters more because they feel like people who you could’ve gone to school with, or in this case, people who went to the fancier college and live in the more expensive part of the city.

The Couples follows three couples whose lives start to crumble after a drunken night away results in multiple affairs and secrets. The gang agrees to swap partners for the night, but there is one rule… no falling in love, can they all stick to the promise they made?

The Couples is a great novel to pick up if you’re struggling to find something to read. Trust me when I say you won’t be able to put this one down.

And at less than 300 pages, you will undoubtedly zoom through this read.

Check out the full synopsis below

‘Eva looked out of the window of the charmingly crumbling guest house and thought she might be sick. She could see Frank lying on the grass in last night’s clothes – it wasn’t clear whether he was conscious or not. Her husband, Shay, was in bed. She loved him, of course, she did, just right now the person she most wanted to see was Connor. She didn’t want to think about what had happened to Bea or how Lizzie was feeling . . .

‘Frank’s birthday had given them an excuse for a night away. The three couples, caught between caring for the children and worrying about their parents, were ready to have a good time. The drink flowed, Dublin felt a long way away and when Frank proposed they swap partners for the night, they forgot they were stressed about their finances and exhausted by their responsibilities. In the heat of the moment, it’s deliciously reckless and makes them all feel young again. The women text the man of their choice.

‘One night. No obligations. No expectations and no falling in love. The only rule? No falling in love.’