Mr Salary by Sally Rooney

This short story is about a young woman; Sukie, who is returning to Ireland to visit her dying father. Susie has a complex relationship with her dad and has not lived with him for years, instead she lived with Nathan. Nathan whilst not a direct relative, is connected to her through his older sister’s marriage to Sukie’s uncle and is fifteen years her senior. He has always spoiled her and supported her in a platonic way… after all he went to her christening, but Sukie’s feelings towards him have changed over the years as the love for the only man that has ever protected her and supported her turns to lust.

On this trip back from college in the States, it’s clear from the moment she slides into Nathan’s car at Dublin airport, that Sukie yearns for Nathan’s attention. Will the forbidden love that she desperately wants, happen?

In just 33 pages, Rooney delves deeper into her main character and urges the reader to decide for themselves, is this relationship right? Is it wrong?

I feel it is up to the individual reader to decide if they want Nathan and Sukie to explore a sexual relationship because whilst Rooney oozes sexual tension through these pages, she also explores Sukie’s relationship with her father and made me question if Sukie is misidentifying her relationship with Nathan because of this.

Treating her to clothes, flight tickets, stability and a warm home it can seem that Nathan filled the gap that a father should fill and therefore Sukie’s feelings towards him are perhaps explained by her sheer gratefulness for the attention and safety he has given her over the years. Is the lust for him just a reaction to him being the only man that has ever cared deeply for her?

Nevertheless, even with these explorations of her past and turbulent relationships, you can’t ignore the tension crackling in the air between these two and be lured in by its hypnotic effect.

Mr Salary is such an electrifying short story that draws you in from the start to the skilfully evasive ending.

Without a doubt, Rooney has such a distinctive writing style, I could have identified this was her work if the author’s name had been hidden! Her seductive way of exploring forbidden or unlikely relationships is iconic.

Highly recommend Rooney fans to pick this up if they haven’t already!

Mr Salary is available in paperback and eBook versions from Faber Stories.

Until next time, stay safe, Chloé x

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