Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Minxminnie

Normal People

Recommended Posts

This book has been a huge publishing sensation, with people apparently buying several  copies at once, if you believe the papers. I couldn't get on with her debut, Conversations With Friends, but the premise of this appealed a bit more and when I saw it in the supermarket for a few pounds, it somehow leapt into my basket, despite my best efforts not to fall for the hype.

 

Some of the writing grates: she has a habit of describing very ordinary events in great amounts of flat detail, and that doesn't appeal to me, though maybe it serves a purpose that eludes me. But I could relate to the characters, and that's what kept me reading. Marianne and Connell have an on-off relationship which ensures through their teenage years and early adulthood. Marianne has poor self esteem, for reasons which are never quite spelled out, but seem to relate to her shadowy dysfunctional family, so she accepts and even enjoys the fact that Connell, initially, seems embarrassed by their relationship and ignores her in public. Their behaviour was frustrating but I thought it was full of the complexities of real relationships which don't always go through the traditional trajectory of the romantic novel. It was full of misunderstandings and near misses, and the characters often say one thing while hoping that the other realises that they mean something different. 

It's set in the early years of this decade, but it's quite timeless, really, whereas her first novel seemed much more rooted in the millennial experience. I'm not a millennial, but I reckon my teenage and early adult years had a lot in common with these two, in terms of the emotions if not the events.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By MisterHobgoblin
      If you are fascinated by the bed-hopping habits of students then this is the book you have been waiting for!

      Connell and Marianne are from Carricklea, a fictional town in Sligo (not the fashionable end of Ireland). Marianne lives in the big house with her mother. At school, she is ostracised for being weird – perhaps because she is rich, perhaps because her father is dead. Perhaps because she is clever. 

      Connell is from the regular side of town. His father is also gone; his mother Lorraine works for Marianne’s mother as a cleaner. Connell is also clever, but he seems to have kept this hidden from his friends. Connell is popular and able to get dates with pretty much anyone he wants – even the most popular girl in school. 

      Connell and Marianne have a clandestine relationship that Connell tries to deny is actually a relationship, and Marianne seems to be grateful for any company she can get, regardless of the terms. 

      Each chapter moves the clock forward by a few weeks or a few months and the pair disappear off to Dublin to go to university. Dublin’s a different place altogether and Marianne’s wealth and intelligence bring ready acceptance into the beautiful people. Connell, meanwhile, is the poor bogtrotter who struggles to find his niche.

      Then, like a Russian novel, these two friends drift in and out of one another’s lives and in and out of one another’s beds. In between their brief periods of togetherness, we tick off heaps of social issues that are of great importance to undergraduates: academic pressure; prizes and scholarships; abusive older boyfriends; parties; finding the next drink…

      I suppose the theme of the novel is about social class and power imbalances. How in youth, fitting in is about reaching downwards whereas in adulthood it is about aspirations and reaching upwards. It’s like Bill Gates used to say: be nice to nerds because one day you’ll work for them. And associated with class, you have the urban/rural divide with the Dublin Jackeens ruling the roost, only admitting those from the big houses into their midst. But at the same time, there is a hollowness to this belonging. The sacrifices you have to make to your integrity as you adapt to fit in will ultimately lead to hollow feelings. 

      This is a novel that could happily have been written twenty, thirty years ago. Things don’t change. But people do – and a novel that might have seemed wonderful and insightful in my own youth now looks trivial. Student relationships were only ever interesting if you were in them. You always remember your first love, but then life happens. And life is more interesting. 
       
      ***00
×
×
  • Create New...