Marianne is the young, affluent, intellectual wallflower; Connell is the boy everyone likes, shadowed by his family’s reputation and poverty. Unlikely friends, and later lovers, their small town beginnings in rural Ireland are swiftly eclipsed by the heady worlds of student Dublin. Gradually their intense, mismatched love becomes a battleground of power, class, and the falsehoods they choose to believe.
Normal People is a tale of deceptive simplicity, a very accessible narrative of two seemingly mismatched young people who share a profound, inescapable understanding. Beyond that however is something properly universal, a study of how one person can forever shape and impact another. Marianne and Connell emerge almost shockingly real and deeply vulnerable in their different ways.
Following her incandescent debut Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney has quickly evolved into perhaps the most nuanced contemporary observer we have. Brimming with longing, regret and intimacy, Normal People is everything we keep saying as a culture we need from our fiction. It is a story that is absolutely universal to us all, and it is brilliant.