Sally Rooney’s ability to recognise and deftly chronicle the nuanced, critical moments of human relationships, is again brought to the fore in Normal People, her brilliant follow-up to last year’s Conversations With Friends. It takes an unflinching look at the intricate nature of love and friendship, and the impact a person can have on another person’s life. More impressively, it demonstrates the difficulty of communicating with those you care for most, and ultimately how important it is. Normal People is, without question, one of the finest novels of 2018.
This is the story of Connell and Marianne, who grew up in the same small town in the west of Ireland. Their resemblances end there; turns out you can come from the same place, but still live in very different worlds. But despite their conflicting status’, the two form a connection that grows, and changes, when they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin.
An addictive journey through all the territories of love — familial, romantic, sexual, the love between friends — Normal People charts the relationship of Connell and Marianne with humour, tragedy and deep insights that will make you both laugh and cry. I identified aspects of my own personality in both characters, and recognised some of their mistakes as my own as various relationships ignite, stutter, and ultimately fail. Sally Rooney has that rare gift of being able to write compulsive fiction about, well, normal people, and make their stories resonate long after the book is back on the shelf.
No sophomore slump here; Rooney’s second novel is suffused with the same elements that made Conversations With Friends such a success. I doubt I’ll read a better novel this year — certainly not one that affects me so deeply.
Imprint: Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publish Date: 6-Sep-2018
Country of Publication: United Kingdom