Staff Picks

Three Rooms

Emily Porter

August 25, 2021


It tells a universal story that so many of us experience in our own lives when finding our footing: the struggle of making it on our own for the first time, meeting strangers that become good acquaintances—if not a friendship of sorts—and finding ourselves throughout the journey.

Three Rooms: A Novel by Jo Hamya, Mariner Books 

When I saw that Kirkus Reviews wrote that Jo Hamya’s “portrait of British life and millennial angst [has] echoes of Zadie Smith,” I jumped immediately into the debut novel, Three Rooms. It tells a universal story that so many of us experience in our own lives when finding our footing: the struggle of making it on our own for the first time, meeting strangers that become good acquaintancesif not a friendship of sortsand finding ourselves throughout the journey.  

Three Rooms is a story about a nameless woman living in Oxford and London, struggling to survive financially, just wanting a place of her own. In today's world, just being able to afford a place that you can call yours is more and more difficult. We follow her story throughout a year where she is a research assistant in the literary realm, a temporary copywriter for a magazine, and back to her hometown where she is jobless. Throughout this novel we are introduced to the rooms this woman inhabits and how they become the background of the year of her life. We travel from a small dorm in a huge historic abode to a living room couch, an apartment she can hardly afford and, finally, back to her childhood home. 

I had wanted to be able to recognize the smell of the room as mine, and so had stretched freshly laundered bedding over the radiator and draped it over the backs of chairs; kept Darjeeling out … These now seemed obscenely romantic ways in which to belong to a place where the downward slide of the pane and any absence longer than two days returned it to its original odor: fetid carpet, repainted walls. 

As politics shift and protests fill the streets, the woman is flooded by social media and the changing world, only wanting to make her own path to a meaningful life. Though located an ocean away and in circumstances unlike my own, traveling through the world with this woman felt familiar, seeing her thoughts and dreams while meandering through her everyday life, in a world seeming so unstable, all while trying to be self-sufficient in a society that does not pay a living wage to acquire a place of her own as an adult. I think anyone who has lived through their twenties and early thirties, or is just surviving in this day and age, can relate to and absorb this beautifully raw and real take of modern-day life in the United Kingdom.

We have updated our privacy policy. Click here to read our full policy.