The Malta Independent 4 October 2022, Tuesday
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Love, inexperience and emotional intensity

Noel Grima Sunday, 7 August 2022, 07:46 Last update: about 3 months ago

‘Normal people’. Author: Sally Rooney. Publisher: Faber & Faber / 2018. Pages: 266pp

This novel is author Sally Rooney's second novel, published after Conversations with Friends.

It is set in Dublin and Carricklea and in 2019 won the British Book Award for Book of the Year. It was later turned into a television series.

It is a novel about first love and the experience of opening up romantically to another person. It is about Marianne and Connell, their secret friendship and their on and off again relationship. These two young people are drawn to each other, drift apart at times but always end up coming back to each other throughout their lives.

The story is not so clear cut as that. There is first of all a social imbalance - Marianne is extremely rich and Connell's mother works as a maid in the household. So they had to keep their relationship secret, and confined to sex, at which they are very compatible. All their friends and colleagues meanwhile somehow assume what's going on.

In time we find out that each of them has a deeply flawed character. They both make it to university and broaden out and mix with other people and have different relationships but somehow they always end up getting back to each other.

In time their characters change - Connell becomes like Marianne and vice-versa.  

In a way, despite all its positivity, this is also a tale of heartbreak and hopelessness. The tragedy of this story is that they might never find out that they are destined to be with each other. 

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