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3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,880 ratings  ·  152 reviews
"Exhilarating...irreverent, and extremely funny,"- Ms.

Seventeen and sure of nothing, Maria has left her parents' small-town grocery for university life in Dublin. An ad in the Student Union - "2 ♀ seek flatmate. No bigots." - leads Maria to a home with warm Ruth and wickedly funny Jael, students who are older and more fascinating than she'd expected.

A poignant, funny, and
Paperback, 240 pages
Published December 29th 2006 by Alyson Books (first published 1994)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,880 ratings  ·  152 reviews

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Julie Ehlers
Stir-Fry is Emma Donoghue's first novel, from before she became Slammerkin Emma Donoghue and certainly well before she became Emma Donoghue of Room fame. It was reviewed in Sassy magazine upon its hardback release in 1994, after which my sister and I read and liked it, but didn't love it. The paperback edition was released in 1996 by Alyson, the premier U.S. LGBT publisher of the time, which went under after it switched to all ebooks extremely prematurely. Stir-Fry has been out of print ever sin ...more
Nov 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Tatiana by: susan
i am such a sucker for a good lesbian story, and i think this is one of the best. i remember finishing it over some depressing stint at home and walking around for the rest of the day with a doofy grin on my face. it did however, make me really nervous 3/4ths of the way through because i realized that the way she had set things up, the ending was going to be really important to the story. it wasn't just going to end the story, it was going to completely make or break the story. and fortunately, ...more
Chez Hilroy
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Two stars might be a little harsh; maybe three would be more fair. But the fact is, I didn't like reading Stir-fry. It's not for the characters or the plot or the theme, which I'll get into in a moment, but just the writing style. Stir-fry exists in the same world as beginner's fanfic where the characters sullenly fling peas across the table, dodge kicks between dialogue, and sail into anime pratfalls in response to every lame verbal "barb".

In short, the style blows. And more than anything, that
Aug 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this one!! Someone once called it a "comfort book", which I thought was a good description. Real, likeable characters. I sympathize with Maria's awkwardness but am impressed by how self-assured she is. The ending is a nice surprise, but feels right. Sometimes I re-read just the last two pages 'cuz they make me smile :)
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqiap
i liked the writing, but didn't like how for a long while it sounds like the pov person is a straight gawping at her lesbian flatmates. it's not that in the end, but it still got on my nerves a bit. also would have given a higher rating if it wasn't for some biphobia and "asexual, like a plant" (an actual quote).
3.5* A gently-written coming-of-age story, with a bit more depth than appears at first glance, and a bit of a reminder just how short a time ago that Dublin (along with so many other places) was such a hostile place for anyone of "unconventional" sexual preferences. It doesn't demonstrate the skill that Donoghue acquired by her later books, but I still enjoyed it.
Rachael Eyre
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elaine Burnes
I've been wanting to read this since I first discovered Emma Donoghue. My response to it is as a writer. There's nothing like reading an author's entire body of work (almost, in this case).

It's not bad for a first novel, but it's far from the quality we've come to expect from Donoghue, which makes it so useful. It’s kind of a mess, feels disjointed, and is full of short, choppy scenes. Gestures don’t mean anything, they are just pauses. Why does Maria yawn so much (other yawn unexpectedly too)?
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this coming to yourself story. I wish I had found Emma Donoghue's books when I was struggling with the same things back at college in Dublin. But over 10 years later I enjoyed being transported back to the that time through the character of this book.

While this isn't the best book you'll read by the author, it is her first and you can catch glimpses of the better writer she has become in some of the pages here.

It's a simple story of youth finding itself and a quick and enjoyable read.

May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2012
I normally avoid anything that could be described as a 'coming of age' story, but this was charming, if not always comfortable to read. The main characters were not always likeable, but were interesting and flawed. I loved the focus on female friendships, relationships, and sexuality.
Apr 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-reread, f-f
It's that time of year for a reread while tucked into the couch with a pot of tea. Bliss.


Such a perfect book to read on a cosy autumn day! Love this book to bits, going on literally.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Jun 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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Nov 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yvensong by: BookCrosser
Shelves: bookcrossing
Donoghue's first novel is a sensitive coming-of-age story of a young girl who has moved to the big city to start college.

The characters are believable, even when they are not particularly likable. Maria, the MC, is attempting to learn who she really is, and how she fits into college life and the world, after having spent her entire life in a small village. She explores the confusing world of relationships through her new flatmates and new college friends, including a couple of young men that sh
Apr 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Stir-Fry was a delightful romp, and I believe my first foray into queer chick lit (except for maybe Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, which is significantly less fluffy).

Though I greatly enjoyed my reading experience, I wasn't left feeling fulfilled. The whole thing felt very much like a first novel: the characters and conversations were fun, if not super memorable or interesting, scene changes were semi-awkwardly managed, the plot was rather predictable, and there was some stereotyping of the que
Sep 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
I just read this book over the last few days and I need to read it again I think. I am not sure how I feel about all three characters. I did not have an affinity for any of them. I liked the style, the rhythm of the writing. I just felt the characters were stereotypes I did not truly form an attachment for. I may have also spent too much time thinking about where this story was heading and hoping it wouldn't be cliche. I wanted to love it as it was sent to me from someone I care about, so for th ...more
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good not great, this is a debut novel from Emma Donoghue, the author who has gotten much better with time as judging by the more recent excellent Room. Stir Fry takes place in Dublin in mid 90s and is mostly interesting from the anthropological perspective and views on homosexuality at that time and place. This doesn't mean the book isn't well is, and the three female leads are quite complex and authentic, but the story just didn't capture my attention as much as I would have liked.
Aug 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stir Fry is a novel about a first-year college student in Dublin who is the unknowing third side to a lesbian love triangle. This is Donaghue's first novel, and so the writing is a bit off and sometimes I felt like she was writing the story as though she were transcribing a movie; however, I give it four stars because it does an excellent job of portraying the real struggles and thoughts that go through a person's mind when they begin to realize maybe they like girls and not boys. A quick read.
May 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
I loved Room and Slammerkin so I gave another of Donoghue's novels a try. The characters in Stir-Fry were boring and the plot was slow so I abandoned it about halfway through. It simply did not hold my attention!
Feb 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
Didn't make it halfway through this book. The writing was all over the place. The transitions to another "scene" were unexpected and often confusing...I would have to reread to figure out what happened. I just couldn't push through as the parts that did make sense were boring.
Apr 15, 2014 rated it liked it
A good read but felt very dated - her most recent books are very much more developed I thought. I enjoyed that one of the main characters was one I had got to know in a much older incarnation in Landing.
Disappointed with this one, was rather dry. The characters felt a bit wooden and the "conflict" you could see coming from a mile off, yet it didn't really seem to be built up appropriately or believably.
Oct 01, 2008 added it
When I was a baby lesbian, I really really wanted to make a movie of this book.
Jul 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
She's come a long way.
Nov 09, 2013 rated it liked it
After having read Room, this one is quite disappointing
Aug 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
Could not get into reading this book at all, it was a chore to finish it!
This is mostly good and fun, but has some rough biphobia issues.
Jul 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
Disappointing after reading her new novel, THE ROOM. This one was her first novel.
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well-written and atmospheric - I was surprised at just how engrossed I got!
The plot isn't particularly eventful, but the characters are so good that I couldn't help getting invested.
Stir-fry is reminiscent of Maeve Binchy's Circle of Friends - not surprising given the similar setting. Of the two, I much preferred Stir-fry - the characters are more likeable, and it's generally a more fun read.
Personally, I'd have liked the ending fleshed out more, but I guess I can see why she wrote it like tha
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Grew up in Ireland, 20s in England doing a PhD in eighteenth-century literature, since then in Canada. Best known for my novel, film and play ROOM, also other contemporary and historical novels and short stories, non-fiction, theatre and middle-grade novels.

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