What is Conversations with Friends about? Plot of new BBC series based around Sally Rooney book - explained

Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends has been adapted for TV in a new BBC show about relationships

Following the success of Sally Rooney’s Normal People adaptation, the first episode of Conversations with Friends came out on BBC Three this week.

The show follows the storyline of Rooney’s 2017 debut novel about romantic, platonic and professional relationships, as well as affairs and growth.

Directed by Oscar-nominated Lenny Abrahamson and made by the same creative team as Normal People, the 12-part adaptation stars Joe Alwyn, Jemima Kirke, Sasha Lane and sees a debut performance from Alison Oliver.

All 12 episodes are available on BBC iPlayer but here is everything you need to know about the programme:

What is the plot of Conversations with Friends?

Joe Alwyn & Alison Oliver, Joe Alwyn & Jemima Kirke, and Sasha Lane & Alison Oliver in Conversations With Friends (Credit: BBC)

Set in Ireland, the plot follows Frances (Oliver), a young college student, who reads poetry with her best friend and ex-girlfriend, Bobbi (Lane). While studying in Trinity College, Dublin, the pair befriend a married couple at a spoken word evening.

They meet Melissa Baines (Kirke), a professional writer and her ‘trophy husband’ actor Nick Conway (Alwyn), and enter their world of fancy dinners, holidays and parties, which in turn leads to complex affairs and feelings for the four.

As Frances and Nick grow closer romantically, and Bobbi gravitating towards Melissa, the best friends end up taking sides of the marriage threatening their bond.

Frances is forced to confront her own vulnerabilities for the first time throughout the story as the love square develops.

The human need for love, friendship and affection are central themes to the book and TV adaptation, as well as the complexity that ensues from that desire.

Jemima Kirk as Melissa, Sasha Lane as Bobbi, Alison Oliver as Frances, and Joe Alwyn as Nick in Conversations with Friends (Credit: BBC/Element Pictures/Hulu/Enda Bowe)

Is the TV show different from the book?

The BBC adaptation depicts the book quite closely, following the 21-year-old Frances in Ireland. However, there are some small differences in the plot.

Firstly, best friend Bobbi is American in the TV series compared to the Irish character in the book, and the ending between herself and Frances has changed slightly.

Sasha Lane, who plays Bobbi in the series, told Vanity Fair about her character development for the TV adaptation.

“Lenny (Abrahamson, director) and I had a lot of conversations about where she is from, how much where she is from is spoken about,” she said.

“We wanted to keep Bobbi even further from the rest of them - letting her have an American accent kept her a bit more singled out.”

Another difference viewers might pick up on is the four characters going on holiday to different locations. While they go to France in the novel, Lenny Abraham has opted for Croatia in the adaptation.

Importantly, the complex relationships and self-growth lessons remain the same through both stories.

Who is Sally Rooney?

Irish author and screenwriter Sally Rooney has published three bestselling novels, Conversations with Friends, Beautiful World, Where Are You and the award-winning Normal People.

She studied at Trinity College which is often seen through her books like characters Frances and Bobbi, and lives in her hometown Castlebar.

The 31-year-old has been awarded a handful of accolades including Goodreads Award for Best Fiction, Costa Book awards and The Sunday Times’s Young Writer of the Year 2017.

Rooney’s screenwriting debut came as she wrote half of the 12 episodes of Normal People, and helped to cast the latest ‘Conversations’ adaptation.