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Summary

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. 

When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years. This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person's life - a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us - blazingly - about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. 

Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney's second novel breathes fiction with new life. A sparkling new novel from the Young Writer of the Year Award-winning author of Coversations with Friends.

©2018 Sally Rooney (P)2018 W. F. Howes Ltd

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Good

Good story but a very disappointing ending, thought at first my phone battery had just died, but no that was the end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Gorgeous literature, beautifully read

Beautifully read female characters - strangely wooden 'acting' for the male characters but not enough to ruin the overall experience, which was great. Such a good book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very good and sad book

I loved the narrator, she was amazing! Really enjoyed it. Looking forward for more books

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • AJ
  • 02-10-18

Loved it

I loved the characters (I’m missing them already) the story and the excellent narration. Beautiful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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great

loved it a lot a lot
well read
a frustrating but excellent story
can't believe what he did with the devs invite. traumatised

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautifully read

The reading completely adds to the story but in an utterly unobtrusive way. Absolutely wonderful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • London, UK
  • 19-09-18

Recommend ed

pride and prejudice for millennials. great story, very well read. very engaging and human what's not to like

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

I was really looking forward to this novel after finding so much to like in Conversations with Friends and feel quite disappointed that I did not enjoy it more.

The setup of Friends, with a quadrant of lovers from different backgrounds and at different places in life, created friction from the first and kept me guessing throughout. Normal People focuses on two main characters and the main question is will-they-or-won’t-they? With this formula, you need compelling leads. And I was initially drawn in by the contrasting-yet-compatible pair of misfit-rich-girl Marianne and cool-yet-conflicted Connell. Rooney does interiority so well and she gives you a great sense of these characters’ mental landscapes.

But then I started to drift away. Where Friends kept me guessing, Normal People explained everything. There is never a rift between Marianne and Connell that the reader doesn’t understand from both sides. The chronology of their relationship is painstaking elaborated. If we are told once that the pair last saw each other at a mass in March, we are told it three times: once by the chapter heading, once by him, once by her. There is no space, temporarily or physically, for disconnect. Perhaps for the same reason, their other relationships seem tenuous and a little unreal. (Connell’s amazing mother is a notable exception.)

Some of the more problematic (okay, annoying) aspects of Friends are amplified here. The protagonists both just happen to be the brightest in their school and then at their elite university, and both just happen to be bright in the way that is rewarded by conventional testing methods. The heroine again courts self-abasing, self-negating sexual relationships. (And, for all the attention the subjects gets, the nuances of sadomasochistic relationships get short shrift. Here they are bad and they are something the heroine does to feel like shit.) The continual topical references are generalized and do little more than affirm the time and place, which, thanks to the aforementioned painstaking chronology, isn’t necessary. Characters are forever waking up and reading about the Syrian War on their phones but we never know what they read.

When Rooney is launched on a set piece like a party or, better yet, a holiday home, she is fantastic. But such delicious vignettes get further apart and the joy slowly drains out of this book.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Another 5/5 novel from Sally Rooney

Rooney writes relationships like no other I have read. Completely captured with this - just like her debut, Conversations with Friends.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Sally Rooney is my new favourite author

Beautiful, spare writing with so much to say. I loved this story. It's the book equivalent of a great Greta Gerwig movie. Ultimately not much happens, but the journey there is as treacherous and heart rending as the most dramatic of novels. Listen and be spellbound.