Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study at university in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years.
Sally Rooney’s second novel is a deeply political novel, just as it’s also a novel about love. It’s about how difficult it is to speak to what you feel and how difficult it is to change. It’s wry and seductive; perceptive and bold. It will make you cry and you will know yourself through it.
Normal People has had so many great reviews, and I was excited to start the audiobook version, read by Aoife McMahon, and hoped it would hold my attention, as audiobooks often don’t – so a book needs to be really great to keep me paying attention properly!. I’m glad to say that this book really did – I found myself engrossed in Marianne and Connell’s story.
I love books that follow characters for long periods in their lives, and Normal People does jus tthat – we see them in their school days and follow them through to university. Each chapter takes us to a different part of their lives, even if it only jumps ahead slightly, and I feel like this keeps the story moving well and stopped me from losing interest.
The audiobook is read really well by Aoife, and I think the story suits the format perfect. I can also imagine getting very drawn into it as a book, too.
I didn’t find myself hugely connecting with either Marianna or Connell, to be honest, but Sally Rooney has a way of writing which ensures they are still likable, even though they can seem a little self-absorbed at times.
Normal People is about romance, friendship and growing up, and much more. It also addresses the less appealing parts of being in a relationship and the way that those closest to us aren’t always the best people to be around. It’s stark in its observations about moving from teenage to adult. I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to watching the recent BBC adapation!