Ruth & Pen is Emilie Pine’s debut novel. Fans of Pine’s essay collection Notes to Self will find that Ruth & Pen engages with many of the same themes in Pine’s distinct voice.
Ruth & Pen tells the story of a day spent in Dublin by two unrelated characters: 16 year old Pen and 43 year old Ruth. Pen has decided that today is the day she will tell her best friend how she feels about her, while counsellor Ruth traverses Dublin while waiting for her husband to finally leave her.
While other characters’ perspectives are heard, such as Ruth’s husband Aidan and Pen’s best friend Alice, it is Ruth and Pen who are at the heart of this meandering novel as they struggle with what it means to love and be loved, and how to make a life with people who will never live up to your expectations of them. This is very much a character-driven novel, with a quiet and reflective tone that I just loved. One of my top reads of 2022 for sure!
Recommended by Siobhán