Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life-changing begins.
Normal People is a story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find they can’t.
Published by Faber & Faber
This book follows Marianne and Connell’s relationship on their journey from adolescence to adulthood in a story of love, abuse, mental health and social class.
Rooney writes with effortless style and the dialogue so well written that I barely noticed the quirky lack of speech marks. This makes the book a page turner despite the melancholy tone and lack of any major plot twists.
I found myself fully invested in these vulnerable characters. Especially Marianne who, due to various dysfunctional relationships, sees her self worth deteriorate terribly throughout the story and my heart aches for her and the abuse she tolerated.
I have seen many reviews saying that they are disappointed with the lack of a ‘happy ending’ but I didn’t expect one. It was never really on the cards with this story and the characters are still so young at the end I’m glad they didn’t ride off into the sunset together. What was lovely was that they helped heal each other and grow as individuals and I especially liked the line ‘But for her the pain of loneliness will be nothing to the pain that she used to feel, of being unworthy. He bought her goodness like a gift and now it belongs to her.’ That was my happy ending for Marianne, at that point in her life.
There was some repetition to the storyline and some instances of annoying self analysis but this didn’t put me off. I really enjoyed this book from an exceptionally talented writer and I would highly recommend it to anyone!
About the author…
Sally Rooney was born in County Mayo, Ireland, and presently lives in Dublin. She is the author of the novels Conversations with Friends and Normal People. Her writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the London Review of Books, and elsewhere. Conversations with Friends was shortlisted for both the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Rathbones Folio Prize, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. Rooney was also shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award for ‘Mr Salary’ and was the winner of the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. Normal People won the Costa Novel of the Year in 2019, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2018 as well as the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Rathbones Folio Prize in 2019.
Normal People has also been adapted for a television series by the BBC to rave reviews.