There is no doubt most people have heard of BBC’s steamy new series ‘Normal People’, but have you read the book?
“The book is better than the series”, it’s a common saying, and ‘Normal People’ is certainly not an exception to that rule.
Irish author Sally Rooney sets the book in a rural town in her home country. Following the success of her debut novel, ‘Conversations with Friends’ in 2017, she released ‘Normal People’ the year after.
Authors often get told to write what they know; which Rooney undoubtedly does. Creating a trend of always going back to her roots, she draws inspiration for both her novels from her own life to produce gripping stories set on the home front.
Set in her homeland, the book tells the turbulent story of Connell and Marianne’s relationship from when they were teenagers. The reader follows them to Trinity University, where Rooney herself studied.
Connell is smart and charismatic; Marianne is quirky and difficult. One thrives in high school, the other in university. Growing from a secret relationship in school to a complicated one in university, they cannot stay away from each other, always finding a way back into one another’s lives.
Rooney’s decision to write this rollercoaster story in third person lets the reader have a deeper understanding of these very complex characters. This allows the author to document their journey exceptionally as the reader is like a fly on the wall in both their lives.
There is never a dull moment thanks to the fast-paced writing, skipping sometimes months or years ahead of their lives, but she still manages to leave no stone unturned.
Going into detail about the difficulties of Marianne’s family life, Connell’s mental health, all whilst writing about their toxic friendships and relationships, Rooney accomplishes a book that has all the chaos of life in it, without glamorising it.
Rooney’s ability to develop characters so deeply leaves you feeling the emotions along with them. It is so easy to get sucked in and read it in one sitting, experiencing the highs and lows, as well as the tears, as the story unfolds.
Is the infamous ending satisfying? Well, it depends on who you ask. Some people felt like their heart had been ripped out after turning over the final page, realising that was it done. Others felt frustrated, like it was all for nothing. Or, if you are like me, you will be satisfied enough, but hoped for better.
If you are looking for a book that explores real life relationships and friendships, ‘Normal People’ is the one for you.
Feature image credit: mammamia.com