Book Club

Normal People by Sally Rooney – Our April Choice

Book Group met at Kathy’s house in the afternoon of the last Wednesday of April. We discussed the award winning “Normal People” by Sally Rooney. Brought up in the west of Ireland in 1991, she holds a Master’s Degree from Trinity College, Dublin.

Connel and Marianne live in a small Irish town. They are both in their final year at the same high school. Both are smart; both studious, both do well in their exams, both live in single parent families. But …….. Connel’s mother is Marianne’s mother’s cleaner and so an important strand of the dynamic between them is established.

Connel is shy but has an easy popularity while Marianne is a loner; friendless and unfriendly. They begin a secret sexual affair which is the start of an on/off relationship which spans four years and their transfer to university. There, their social situations are reversed. Marianne is comfortable in this world of wealth and privilege; Connel feels unsure of himself and ill at ease.

Each forms relationships with others but each continues to be drawn to the connection between them.

The story rings with authenticity.  We speculated about Marianne and Connel’s backstories – why was Marianne so self-destructive, why was Connel so reluctant to commit to their relationship?

The book scored 7.9 on our rating system; the most frequently awarded score was 8. We enjoyed the book with some reservations; it is a window into the apparently very different world of young people today.

But … the more things change the more they stay the same. As the book ends Marianne and Connel are emerging from the intensity/difficulties/self-focus which, often painfully, dominate the transition from childhood through adolescence into early adulthood.

Our next book is ‘Our Spoons Came from Woolworths’ by Barbara Comyns. We will be meeting at The Queen’s Hotel, Penzance to discuss the book on Wednesday 29th May.


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