[Reading] ➻ Normal People Author Sally Rooney – Alwaysonltd.co.uk
Sally Rooney is the real deal Normal People has been lavished with praise from critics, longlisted for the Man Booker prize and is apparently being adapted for television by the BBC And it only came out last week So much attention will no doubt attract quite a few readers who would not ordinarily touch this subject matter with a barge pole Because this book A Is about young peopleB Is a love story but not a romance C Contains a fair bit of sex which is crucial to the story, btw, and is not graphic All of which possibly also the fact that the author is a 27 year old woman means that Normal People will inevitably be dismissed by some as frivolous It isn t This is a confident, accomplished and serious work Of Rooney s debut, Conversations with Friends, I said in my review it occasionally scrapes close to the bone Well, Normal People cuts to the core Normal People is not out to inspire, instruct, entertain or talk down to anyone, which makes it something of a refreshing anomaly in current fiction about young people It is a novel for anyone, young or old that simply presents the truth of youthful experiences without the filters of nostalgia or sentimentality It invites you to inhabit the psyche of someone else two someone elses Connell and Marianne to identify with them and to feel their pain and turmoil For the reader who connects to that, it is wracking The story focuses only on the pivotal moments for these two characters, jumping forward three weeks, six months, or five minutes, as needed, to excise all the uneventful bits of life and leave us with the most emotionally intense supercut possible It follows them from high school in a small town, through their years at university in Dublin, as the dynamic between them shifts with their surroundings and social circle They re not officially together the whole time, or even most of the time, but they always figure in each other s lives in a significant way.Sally Rooney writes with such precision that this all feels painfully true She conjures the tension and emotion in a scene just from the way someone wrings out a dish sponge she conveys the full weight of feeling from a look or a shrug In Rooney s imagining, Connell and Marianne as separate entities are less important than the interplay between them their relationship dynamic and the influence each of them has on shaping the other, that s the real stuff of this bookHow strange to feel herself so completely under the control of another person, but also how ordinary No one can be independent of other people completely, so why not give up the attempt, she thought, go running in the other direction, depend on people for everything, allow them to depend on you, why notThere s irony here, and self conscious posturing not nearly as much as in CWF , but earnestness, truth and kindness as well In addition to the central relationship are issues of class and intellectual integrity It s a particularly astute look at the rebuild of self that teenagers undergo in the transition from school to uni, how it allows some to thrive while others stumble, and in some ways is just an illusion after all So there s hype and there s backlash to the hype, and Normal People is sure to resonate powerfully with some readers and not at all for others If you like a minutely observed novel about people and feelings that isn t mawkish, I d say give it a go. Goddamit Sally Rooney and now I m crying. Man booker prize long list nominee and Costa book awards nominee This is a book that has many admirers and sadly it didn t work for me and while I would love to agree with all the judges on this one I only struggled to the end because it was a bookclub read It is difficult to go against the grain on a book that is nominated for so many awards So as always you need to judge for yourself because books fit people differently Quite simply this book didn t Fit Me I really have no interest in reading about 18 20 something year college kid s on off sexual relationships where they seem to only exist in their own little complex bubble and this book felt like a bubble It is described as exquisite love stroy which I honestly found nothing exquisite or no love in this one The characters of Connell and Marianne were dislikable and boring and the on off, will they wont they relationship became repetitive reading The only character which I liked and felt any connection with in the novel was Lorraine.Perhaps this is suited for a younger audience where they connect with the college scene or for readers who like complex relationship stories but for me this was a struggle from start to finish. I am not sure how to write this review because I seem to be so far beyond the pale on my antipathy to this book In simplest terms I didn t connect with this work at all and I would be best to chalk this up to a reader writer mismatch and move on but I will try and articulate some of my reading experience.Some of my perplexity with Normal People is that I just couldn t relate to the twenty something, highly educated, politically aware and cynical young adults that populate this novel I am not sure how reflective these voices are of young Irish making their way in the world, but as presented here I found them exasperating to listen to and not particularly nuanced It is possible that even if I didn t enjoy the novel I might like the writing but in actual fact Rooney s style is perhaps the single biggest thing that bugged me I found some passages of interest sandwiched between a lot of wooden dialogue and these flat descriptionsMarianne goes inside and comes back out again with another bottle of sparkling wine, and one bottle of red Niall starts unwrapping the wire on the first bottle and Marianne hands Connell a corkscrew Peggy starts clearing people s plates Connell unpeels the foil from the top of a bottle as Jamie leans over and says something to Marianne He sinks the screw into the cork and twists it downwards Peggy takes his plate away and stacks it with the others This kind of writing really gives me nothing Others have cited the two dimensional nature of her secondary characters and I would concur Barely any of them made much of an impression on me Alan Marianne s brother, seemed particularly badly drawn He appears to be a key part of understanding Marianne and yet he warrants only a few pen strokes of unexplained malice and cruelty The opening of a wine bottle and pouring of cups of tea receives much page space I tried to understand Marianne, who seems to be both ugly and beautiful, popular and friendless Her hinted at troubled family life was suppose to underpin her need to be a submissive I remain unconvinced that this is really how dominance and submission works and I would think experts in BDSM might strongly take issue with some of the cliches here The relationship between Marianne and Connell should have kept this book afloat at the very least The intense emotional and physical connection, the will they won t they stay together, all the drama of YA love is here but it is in an eye wateringly navel gazing form I found it all exactingly po faced The number of inexplicable break ups, largely based on mis communication was about three or four break ups too many for me I just wanted to yell at this novel most of the time Say what you mean and stop being so insufferably difficult , either split up or stay together, both your friends and I really don t care Marianne and Connell were of most interest to me when they started emailing each other, discussing novels and politics thus preventing them breaking up over some new emotional minutiae Perhaps this should have been a novel of their email exchanges.Oh well, I guess I will never be a Rooney fan and I have doubtless missed the point of this book entirely but that is ok not every book is for every reader. wow one of the most frustrating, but humanising, books i have read in a long time for sure i feel so exhausted after reading this, but i think that may have been the authors intent its shows that normal people living normal lives can be quite tiresome for example the writing lacks quotation marks, which makes the dialogue difficult to decipher which could be seen as support for the idea that life is just as messy as the books formatting and communication sometimes takes effort to understand there are massive jumps in the timeline with a lot of backtracking, so much so that the drastic shifts are jarring which could be seen as exemplifying the notion that people change over time and friendships are bound to alter.things like this will polarise readers either its too much and unenjoyable, or its a work of genius and adds depth to the storytelling i think it really depends on the readers interpretation and mood and like the indecisive creature that i am, im quite torn down the middle 3.5 stars On the second page of Sally Rooney s universally acclaimed, Booker longlisted novel is the following paragraph He puts his hands in his pockets and suppresses an irritable sigh, but suppresses it with an audible intake of breath, so that it still sounds like a sigh What I get the hand in the pockets bit, but how the hell does the rest of it work A sigh is an exhalation and I have no idea how any attempt to suppress a sigh by inhaling could possibly sound like one I ve tried hard to imagine it, but no luck I ve tried even harder to do it, but even less luck In fact, in an effort to understand this twaddle I have tried it so often that I have come close on several occasions to hyperventilating and passing out.What have those Faber editors been doing Maybe they have no problem with it because they are all so much cleverer than me and know how to read properly Or maybe they also tried to do it and actually did pass out, which might explain why they have failed to apply the editorial pencil with any intelligence in the 264 pages that follow.The likely explanation, of course, is that the problem is mine and I offer the following gems from Normal People on that understanding He looks down into his lap, and exhales quickly, almost like a cough.It s hyperventilation time again I ve imagined it and I ve tried it, but I still don t get it He can t even visually imagine himself as a lawyer, wearing a tie and so on Do we really need that visually It s true she is Connell s type, maybe even the originary model of the type Originary What does that mean Am I the only one who had to look it up It s not in Chambers, by the way, so you ll need the OED Peggy, watching, took a performatively large mouthful of Cointreau Can anyone explain what performatively large actually means Enraged now, Alan wrenched her back from the sink by her upper arm, and, seemingly spontaneously, spat at her Seemingly spontaneously I could go on It s not often that I feel the need to read with a pencil in my hand but Normal People drove me to it, and my copy is now covered with question marks and annotations I retired from teaching last year but reading Sally Rooney s feted novel felt like I was marking again in this case marking the work of a precocious, but overindulged, talent.In Normal People alternating points of view are combined with an inconsistent and confusing authorial presence, voices are often difficult to differentiate in an ineffectual free indirect style, the comma splices Ferrante this isn t and the unpunctuated dialogue, far from creating an impressionistic flow, suggest a lack of precision, and the prose shifts from past to present for no apparent reason and even within paragraphs, creating a chronological blur In short, it s a bit of a mess If I cared about the characters or cared about the story, these things would not matter quite so much but on the few occasions when I saw through the writerly mess I found it difficult to care about them at all.The novel, though, has been so well received that its very reception has become a news story Salinger for the Snapchat generation critics unite to praise 27 year old novelist was the headline in last Saturday s Guardian.So the problem is clearly mine Maybe I ve read a different book from the one everyone is raving about Maybe I ve read the same book but don t know how to read properly Or it could be that I m the child s voice at the back of the crowd politely suggesting that the emperor might not be wearing any clothes. At School Connell And Marianne Pretend Not To Know Each Other He S Popular And Well Adjusted, Star Of The School Soccer Team While She Is Lonely, Proud, And Intensely Private But When Connell Comes To Pick His Mother Up From Her Housekeeping Job At Marianne S House, A Strange And Indelible Connection Grows Between The Two Teenagers One They Are Determined To Conceal.A Year Later, They Re Both Studying At Trinity College In Dublin Marianne Has Found Her Feet In A New Social World While Connell Hangs At The Sidelines, Shy And Uncertain Throughout Their Years In College, Marianne And Connell Circle One Another, Straying Toward Other People And Possibilities But Always Magnetically, Irresistibly Drawn Back Together Then, As She Veers Into Self Destruction And He Begins To Search For Meaning Elsewhere, Each Must Confront How Far They Are Willing To Go To Save The Other.Sally Rooney Brings Her Brilliant Psychological Acuity And Perfectly Spare Prose To A Story That Explores The Subtleties Of Class, The Electricity Of First Love, And The Complex Entanglements Of Family And Friendship. Whoa guys I just finished Normal man, I just I don t know what am I, what am I, uh, missing This, uh, this this wasn t good Not good at all I m so confused This is, um, this is this book is everywhere right now, being highly praised and all that Websites I trust are telling me this is, this is one of the best, one of the best books of the year so far But, guys wow I ve never felt disconnected from a story I couldn t care less about either one of these characters, and I definitely didn t care about anyone else in the book because, man, I don t think the author cared either This whole thing just felt lifeless to me, like it wanted to be something huge and it sure is being pushed like it is , but there is really nothing about this book I found redeeming I hung around until the end thinking something would resolve or the story would progress somehow, but it just kind of fizzles out and it s done I wish it would have at least ended with an apology for taking up too much space in the crowded book world Seriously, the whole back and forth of I love you, let s have sex, do whatever you want, we re different, I can t tell anyone about you, I love you, I m seeing someone else, I m so sad, life is hard, being 20 is tough that is basically the book It just kind of bounces around those themes over and over again There s nothing in the book to make me care of these kids are in love or not, and it really feels like this should be a YA novel, but it pushed the characters ages up just a bit to say Nope, no no no adults here We have adults coming through This is Adult Fiction folks It reads like Twilight without the vampires, but someone give this bad boy a Man Booker prize Adult book here, ladies and gentlemen Don t get it twisted I don t get it I didn t connect with this at all, and I would recommend steering clear of this one and moving on to something else on your list As my old librarian used to say So little books, so little time He s the only person who has ever said that I think he trademarked it He s right Skip this. I wanted to like this book than I did How thrilling that the author hailed as Salinger for the Snapchat generation is Irish, and from my own province of Connacht at that There are moments in this novel that would certainly back up such a bold claim But I believe that she is a writer still honing her craft Not quite the finished article just yet, but with all the potential to become a literary heavyweight.In the beginning we meet Connell and Marianne, two young people growing up the west of Ireland Marianne comes from a wealthy family and Connell s mother Lorraine is a cleaner in their lavish house At the start of the book, the pair are in their final year at school Connell is a popular sports star while Marianne is a social outcast They are close despite operating in completely different circles Roles are reversed once they move to Dublin for college Marianne falls in with a group who appreciate her wit and intelligence, and a taciturn Connell finds it difficult to make friends The story follows their on off relationship over the years they go from being pals, to than that, to who knows They are a huge part of one another s lives, no matter what their romantic status.Rooney is strong on the intricacies of relationships how the influence of one person can shape another person s whole life, and how little misunderstandings can snowball into major heartbreak At one point Connell discovers that becoming part of a couple can even validate one s existenceTo be known as her boyfriend plants him firmly in the social world, establishes him as an acceptable person, someone with a particular status, someone whose conversational silences are thoughtful rather than socially awkwardShe is also extremely perceptive about the journey from adolescence into adulthood, that point in your life where you fly the nest to take on the world and finally meet people with the same interests as yours confident, excited and apprehensive all at onceThey were coming into college every day to have heated debates about books they had not read However, there were a couple of things that bugged me For one, Marianne s family despise her, yet we are given no reason for this The actions of her brother Alan, in particular, become ridiculous as the story goes on, and without proper context they just feel ludicrous And I m afraid I found the dialogue quite flat at times For two people like Marianne and Connell, who know each other so well, I kept thinking, is this how they would really speak to each other Their exchanges are so earnest and dry For example, there s one part where they are about to have sex after missing one other for so long, and the atmosphere is charged They kiss Marianne says that she wants this so much, and Connell goesIt s really nice to hear you say that I m going to switch the TV off, if that s OKThe description of the scene makes it sound passionate but the conversation dulls its effect.Maybe I m nitpicking There were many aspects of the book I really admired It s just that when I see publications like The Guardian declaring Normal People a future classic , I expect a bit from it I do think that Sally Rooney is massively talented, and her gifts of observation and empathy will serve her very well in her career She may have the literary world at her feet right now, but I reckon her best work is yet to come. I had been influenced by a friend whom I adore respect by her 1 star review way before this book started gaining momentum and hit the stores a month ago This book wasn t for my friend but it sure was for me I ve own an Advance Reader s Edition , of Sally Rooney s paper copy for a year and a half It sat on my shelf, unread Rooney s first novel Conversations With Friends , was wonderful I admit having a thing for the type of writer Sally Rooney is Addicting thought provoking reading for me Normal People is contemporary romantic tragic comic fresh psychologically sharp emotional and very perceptive Rooney leaves me lingering in her characters They are flawed and frustrated I felt flawed and frustrated reading it At times I wanted to scream at the characters other times my heart just broke I knew I wanted to read this novel I even knew it would most likely drive me into my head it did I m not sure why I didn t open it last year The book cover alone has that curl up and get sucked in feeling , to it And that s exactly what happened I COULD NOT STOP READING Addicted I will never doubt my own gut desire again when it comes to a Sally Rooney novel I m a fan here to stay Totally love what she creates SOMETHING HAS SHIFTED IN ME, too, with respect to romance novels I can no longer say Oh, I don t read romance novels It dependsHeck, Crime and Punishment , had romance Loaded with power and cruelty but still some romance East of Eden , by John Steinbeck was filled with juicy romance destructive force but stilllust and romance was present Helen Hoang s book, The Kiss Quotient , modern, had romance written all over it I loved it, too Laugh at me if you wishbut in the same way that I got hooked on the two main characters, Tessa and Hardin , in Anna Todd s After Series also a young author like Sally Rooney.I was hooked on the relationship between Connell and Marianne in Normal People I m sure that Rooney would not turn this book into a series but if she did, I d read it The electricity and entanglement between this Connell and Marianne was soooo complex I wanted to join their conversations about their families about the way each felt about themselves, and each other and all the things that were happening to them When I finished the last page, my mind continued swimming in thoughts Most, I was sad to leave them Soooo many fabulous sentences page after page Gorgeous reflective and intimate writing Sally Rooney is an it author for me LOVED IT.Ha if you can t tell I ll end with one expert All these years they ve been like two little plants sharing the same pot of soil, growing around one another, contorting to make room, taking certain unlikely positions.