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Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780349013558

Price: £16.99

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The international bestseller: a hilarious, heartfelt story of all-consuming and unexpected love



Nominated for a TikTok Book Award

If you’ve ever been young, you will love The Rachel Incident like I did‘ GABRIELLE ZEVIN

Funny, nostalgic, sexy‘ MONICA HEISEY

Hilarious, wise and wonderfully written‘ GRAHAM NORTON

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Everyone in Cork remembers the Rachel Incident. But what really happened? It’s simple. It’s complicated. It’s about love, sex and friendship. It’s definitely about betrayal. And, above all, it’s the story of Rachel and James, two twenty-somethings who met at a bookshop, became best friends, and spent one unforgettable year screwing up and growing up.

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Reading it is like hearing your funniest, sexiest friend tell you the best story they know‘ KATHERINE RUNDELL

Sharply witty, warm-hearted and wiseGUARDIAN

O’Donoghue captures all the intensity of messy young loveMAIL ON SUNDAY

A book full of love, and it is extremely easy to love reading itVOGUE

Chaos at its finestSTYLIST

Easily 13/10 . . . Funny, lovely, romantic‘ MARIAN KEYES

The Rachel Incident was a #2 bestseller in Ireland in June 2023

Reviews

A brilliantly entertaining, poignant novel about sex, friendship, and both losing and finding yourself
Irish Country Magazine
If you've ever had a literary internship that didn't really pay you; if you've ever contemplated writing a screenplay with a friend; if you've ever been unsure what to do with your degree in English; if you've ever wondered when the rug-buying part of your life will start; if you've ever avoided going home or run out of things to say to your parents; if you've ever built your life and your personality around a friend; if you've ever loved the wrong person, or the right person at the wrong time... In short, if you've ever been young, you will love The Rachel Incident like I did
Gabrielle Zevin, author of TOMORROW AND TOMORROW AND TOMORROW
Has engaging central characters and relevant things to say about ghosting, student dog years, reproductive healthcare and the destructiveness of small-town gossip
Independent
So intimately warm and witty that reading it is like hearing your funniest, sexiest friend tell you the best story they know. It's about being a young idiot, and the glorious intensity of friendship in your early twenties
Katherine Rundell
Gorgeous, bittersweet and true
Jenny Colgan
An nostalgia-drenched story about intense, 20-something love - with our friends
Grazia
I can't explain the sheer unadulterated glee of reading this. It's so good and absorbing and funny and honest and horny. And when I finished, I was bereft ... O'Donoghue's observant, incredibly smart writing and character work and story are just the peak of modern fiction for me right now
Lizzie Huxley-Jones, author of MAKE YOU MINE THIS CHRISTMAS
Starkly funny and heartbreaking
Time Magazine
The kind of warm-hearted and genuinely funny novel that's the perfect antidote to a bad news day
Sunday Business Post
Will make you laugh and wince with its depiction of 20-something life
Independent, Best Romantic Summer Reads
Deeply relatable and extremely funny, and features a dinner party scene so awkward I had to put the book down and do a bit of breathing before I continued
Observer
I really loved this book. It was gentle yet compelling and I was truly rooting for each character, even the ones I didn't like. Caroline has a talent for writing complex characters with humour and tact. The Rachel Incident kept me guessing while feeling deeply comforted the whole way through
Emer McLysaght, author of OH MY GOD WHAT A COMPLETE AISLING
Navigates a young Irishwoman's chaotic early 20s with a cozy warmth that had me laughing out loud throughout. This is one of those catch-yourself-smiling-without-realizing-it books
NPR
A gripping story, beautifully written, with an expertly woven plot, packed with charm and suspense that sneaks up on you and leaves you rooting for the characters and gasping for more. A masterful, mesmerising tale of the joy of obsessive and consuming friendship, the secrets that bind us, and the damage we can't help but inflict on the ones we love the most
Justin Myers, author of THE FAKE-UP
A compulsive, all-consuming story about love, friendship and the messiness of being young
The i, Best New Books out in June
I just had such a blast reading this book, honestly - it was sharp and romantic, and horribly funny, and so wise about love and youth. Glorious
Eva Wiseman
The QFJ Index is HIGH (Queasy from Jealousy) on The Rachel Incident, easily 13/10. Funny, LOVELY, romantic, DRENCHED in nostalgia, it made me extremely happy (apart from the jealousy). I sense it'll be a BIG success
Marian Keyes
Caroline O'Donoghue shines a laser beam on young adulthood, particularly the crazy intensity of those messy, beautiful friendships forged in the fires of romantic crisis. The Rachel Incident made me nostalgic for my early twenties. But even more than that, it made me wish I could go back and hug the person I was back then and tell her she'll be okay
Lauren Fox, author of Send For Me
It's funny and nostalgic and the sex scenes are actually sexy ... it's everything I want from a summer book
Monica Heisey, author of REALLY GOOD, ACTUALLY, Elle Summer Reads
Caroline O'Donoghue's best work yet, a rich and nuanced read which is endlessly entertaining
Irish Independent
A deliciously complicated and very real romance with some refreshing twists. O'Donoghue captures all the intensity of messy young love, burnishing it with nostalgia and pointed wit
Mail on Sunday
The stage is set for a deliciously complicated and very real romance with some refreshing twists . . . all the intensity of messy young love, burnishing it with nostalgia and pointed wit
Mail on Sunday
Every so often, a novel comes around that makes you excited about reading again. For me, this year that is Caroline O'Donoghue's gripping, moving The Rachel Incident, which looks like it could be branded the book of the summer . . . The book is full of witty insights that get you right to the heart of the character . . . O'Donoghue is a funny, smart, fearless voice who strikes the perfect balance of realism and romance, and The Rachel Incident is a stormer of a novel
i news
I haven't enjoyed a book as much as The Rachel Incident in a long time - so, so sharp, funny and painfully relatable. These characters defy tropes and stereotypes, they come alive on the page. I adored them
Laura Kay, author of TELL ME EVERYTHING
Caroline O'Donoghue perfectly captures the intensity and high and lows of first love, and while The Rachel Incident is steeped in nostalgia and heartache, it's also very, very funny
Red Magazine
An unconventional love story filled with heart and humour . . . You'll gobble up The Rachel Incident in one bite and be left hungry for more
Daily Express
An absolute pleasure is the only way I can describe the sensation of losing myself in this ceaselessly charming, vulnerable, atmospheric story of human connection and self-discovery. Fans of Sally Rooney and Coco Mellors will delight in the cozy Irish vibes and glimmering voice of Caroline O'Donoghue.
Amanda Montell, author of WORDSLUT and CULTISH
Sharp, wryly original ... quirky, eminently readable, funny
RTE, The best Irish books of 2023
Caroline O'Donoghue, where have you been all my life? The Rachel Incident is a transportive joy, a superhighway to young friendship. Big-hearted, witty and expertly crafted - I want to live inside this book
Sloane Crosley, author of CULT CLASSIC
Delightful! So funny and smart
Ann Napolitano, author of HELLO BEAUTIFUL
Capturing the problems and intensity of early 20-something life, with the added complications of the restrictions of Catholic Ireland, this bittersweet story is at times laugh-out-loud funny
Best Magazine
Caroline O'Donoghue writes characters that just sort of melt from the page and into your life - they are so relatable, so likeable, so beautifully messy. Her story of twenty-somethings stumbling through life, trying to find themselves but usually finding awful rented accommodation and crappy jobs instead is instantly relatable. There is a dinner party scene so brilliantly staged and so exquisitely uncomfortable, I had to read it through my fingers, like watching some sort of horror movie. Books so rarely capture the sheer chaos, heartache, misery and euphoria of our twenties, effectively the internship stage of adulthood in so many ways, but this one does it effortlessly. A truly charming, moving, funny and sad novel
Keith Stuart, author of THE BOY MADE OF BLOCKS
Completely engrossing, intensely intimate, full of wry wit and hard-learned insights about finding friends and holding on to love. I'm struggling to think of a single person I know who wouldn't love this book
Matthew Parker, author of ONE FINE DAY
I didn't know books could be this hilarious. The Rachel Incident is so warm and comforting, and the characters so real. I can't believe Rachel and James aren't people that I know -- I care about them so deeply!
Annie Lord, author of NOTES ON HEARTBREAK
Capturing the madness and intensity of early 20-something life, with the added complications of the restrictions of Catholic Ireland, this joyful, passionate story from the author of Promising Young Women is at times spit-out-your-tea funny - and always a bittersweet delight
Bookseller, Editor's Choice
A book I took to my heart. . . A truly lovely read; complex in its emotional range, funny, poignant, heart-breaking, beautifully plotted, with clever, pacey dialogue, vivid characters and a shocking plot twist that left me gasping in horror
Barbara Trapido, author of BROTHER OF THE MORE FAMOUS JACK
A headlong read about being young and hopelessly in lust . . . Funny, fond and wittily observed
Sunday Times, Best Summer Reads
Made me realise I'd never properly understood the word 'whipsmart' till now. Hilarious, wise and wonderfully written
Graham Norton
Chaos at its finest
Stylist
A book full of love, and it is extremely easy to love reading it
Vogue
A sensational new entry in the burgeoning millennial-novel genre
Kirkus Reviews (starred)
The story feels slick and refined like a HBO series, but what gives it heart is O'Donoghue's raucous humour slathered on top. It's a deeply satisfying novel about friendship, love and the uncertain Ireland of 2010
Irish Times
O'Donoghue has a sharp eye for the tumultuous life of a young woman struggling to figure out who she is . . . profoundly satisfying . . . O'Donoghue has found a way to tell this story in scenes both heartbreaking and funny
Washington Post
Hilarious, messy, and all the things being young and infatuated can often be, The Rachel Incident creates a world so vivid you feel it wrap around you . . . This book won't leave you willingly, nor will you want it to
Independent
Wry, charming and fun, O'Donoghue knocks it out of the park with her third adult novel
RTE Guide
An amusing coming-of-age saga
Sunday Independent, Ones to Watch
The Rachel Incident worked its way under my skin and into my heart and has stayed there for months. It's such a beautifully observed, open-hearted, clever, horny, desperately funny, joy of a book. It captures, with unique eloquence, those years in our early twenties when every feeling reveals an exposed nerve, when every small event is tragedy or ecstasy, when we're trying to shape, and reshape (and reshape again), who it is we want to become. I adored it
Kate Young, author of EXPERIENCED
I loved it
Coco Mellors, author of CLEOPATRA AND FRANKENSTEIN, Cosmopolitan
Exuberant, bitingly satirical . . . Recalls the fiction of both Sally Rooney and Anne Tyler as the author interrogates the dynamics of power, from academia to publishing houses to bedrooms . . . O'Donoghue steers us toward reckonings large and small, her hand steady on the tiller . . . A gratifying, accomplished novel
New York Times
Sometimes the most passionate love stories are platonic. As sharply witty as it is warm-hearted and wise, this coming-of-age story about an Irish graduate and her gay best friend captures the intensity of friendship, the brittle craziness of youth and the desperation of gunning for an arts job in a recession
Guardian, Best Summer Reads
Books by Irish women writers are hot these days, and this novel is on fire . . . O'Donoghue deepens the familiar coming-of-age premise with riveting moral complications
People Magazine, Book of the Week
By turns hilarious and heartfelt, breezy and bittersweet, The Rachel Incident is a full-throated, big-hearted romp through early adulthood
Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train