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Normal people por Sally Rooney
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Normal people (edição 2019)

por Sally Rooney

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
3,0111743,326 (3.73)140
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.… (mais)
Membro:superpeer
Título:Normal people
Autores:Sally Rooney
Informação:London : Faber & Faber, 2019.
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:***1/2
Etiquetas:2010s, ireland, books-i-own, english

Pormenores da obra

Normal People por Sally Rooney

  1. 40
    One Day por David Nicholls (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Normal People is more explicit than One Day, but both of these character-driven novels follow a couple who can't resist each other and come together only to separate over and over again.
  2. 20
    Trust Exercise por Susan Choi (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Though Trust Exercise employs an unconventional storyline that unfolds with stylistically complex flair, and Normal People is more straightforward, both novels play with power dynamics within relationships and explore the limitations of communication.… (mais)
  3. 10
    Conversations with Friends por Sally Rooney (hazzabamboo)
    hazzabamboo: Her second, and even better - they cover quite similar ground
  4. 00
    In Paris With You por Clémentine Beauvais (SandSing7)
    SandSing7: The characters and their relationship are eerily similar, the writing is lovely and poetic (even though Paris is written in verse), and it's super weird that even the endings are exactly the same.
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What a thoughtful, infuriating, nuanced little novel. Even though I'm not predisposed to read a lot of stories about on-again, off-again teenage romances, the spectacle of these sympathetic, all-too-relatable characters making important life decisions based on poorly-understood or half-admitted emotional impulses really hit home. In a plain, unadorned language Rooney portrays many indelible moments of two young people struggling desperately to communicate something important to each other, failing because of the wrong phrasing, or an ill-timed silence, leading to them making seemingly irrevocable choices for reasons as unnecessary as they were inevitable. I couldn't count the number of times I wanted to shake some sense into both of them, yet Rooney so skillfully conveys how their presence in each other's lives is simultaneously irreplacable and unsustainable that each stage in their relationship had its own irrefutable logic. The way that crucial events were often conveyed through gaps and absences as much as by visible action made the open ending fully appropriate if not completely satisfying. Even if you thought these characters should have broken up with each other by the end of the first chapter, you're still pulling for them, in a way, all through to the end.

I started off thinking it was something like a "YA novel for adults", if that makes sense, but by the end I had almost forgotten even having that opinion. In fairness to myself, its characters and initial setting are practically archetypal for the YA genre: Marianne is a rich kid from an unpleasant and abusive family, and her high school classmate Connell is a poor kid whose mother Lorraine works as a housekeeper in Marianne's family's house in the tiny fictional town of Carricklea, out west in the Irish sticks near Sligo. They're drawn together by their shared feelings of being outsiders, but because Marianne's a social pariah, her relationship with Connell, a standoffish but generally well-liked football star, has to be kept under wraps. They mutually decide that they shouldn't be seen in public together, and the effects of this essential status ambiguity, and resulting tension between their public and private relationships, drives each scene in the book as they then go on to attend the same university in Dublin, intermittently get "back together" and break up to see other people, and gradually wander down their respective life paths. The novel ends four years later with the two discussing whether Connell should pursue a job opportunity in America, while they obliquely discuss if their meaning to each other - whatever that is or has been, exactly - would still endure after a year's separation.

This doesn't sound like a particularly unique premise, and Rooney's fairly straightforward prose style means that there aren't too many arresting sentences or novel imagery. But what made this such a good novel to me was in how Rooney showed off Marianne and Connell's characters through their actions, both within the scenes and between them. That they have a place in each other's heart isn't in question, but it's difficult to say if their periodically recurring contact with each other is healthy or not, whatever that means, or if all their angst was a waste of time. In reading other reviews of the book I kept seeing Rooney referred to as a "Millennial author". I find that label debatable, in part because I don't think there's too much in here that couldn't be fairly transposed to a different time or place: yes, the characters text and use Skype, but even the "orbiting" concept that you sometimes read thinkpieces about, a continuous half-presence theoretically enabled by that same technology, has also been fairly common via one method or another since forever. Even if there are minor details peculiar to the 21st century, all that they really mean is that Rooney using contemporary materials for her exploration of ambiguity, which is perhaps more common than in the past but is hardly unique to us. When have people ever NOT struggled with the disease of wanting to know the "real" basis for their emotions, or chased endless tests of fidelity which themselves might end up causing that thing to evaporate permanently?

One of the most crucial episodes of ambiguity that stood out to me was in the September 2012 chapter, about halfway through the novel, after they've both begun going to college. Connell's working-class background has been a constant source of worry for him, as it is for most non-wealthy people, and the fact that Marianne comes from wealth is a fact he can't get out of his mind, even though he "of course" knows she would never draw on it except to help him. He discovers that his hours at his job will be cut at the end of the school year, which means the place he's been living at while in school won't be affordable anymore, which means he would have to move home for the summer. The obvious solution is simply to move into Marianne's fully paid-for apartment, which would save him from paying rent at all, and also be an expression of permanence in a relationship that has sorely lacked it. Even if this would be an acknowledgement of his dependence on her, well... isn't he? Emotionally, if not financially, of course he already is, and from the reader's perspective we know that the last thing in the world she would want is to hold their class difference over his head. But this emotionally fraught conversation doesn't go so well:

"Eventually he said: Hey, listen. By the way. It looks like I won't be able to pay rent up here this summer. Marianne looked up from her coffee and said flatly: What?
Yeah, he said. I'm going to have to move out of Niall's place.
When? said Marianne.
Pretty soon. Next week maybe.
Her face hardened, without displaying any particular emotion. Oh, she said. You'll be going home, then.
He rubbed at his breastbone then, feeling short of breath. Looks like it, yeah, he said.
She nodded, raised her eyebrows briefly and then lowered them again, and stared down into her cup of coffee. Well, she said. You'll be back in September, I assume.
His eyes were hurting and he closed them. He couldn't understand how this had happened, how he had let the discussion slip away like this. It was too late to say he wanted to stay with her, that was clear, but when had it become too late? It seemed to have happened immediately. He contemplated putting his face down on the table and just crying like a child."

This total mess of an important moment, where a Rubicon is crossed almost accidentally and unwillingly, is told via flashback; each of them has moved on (though not really), and to be honest it seemed like the best move for them was to stop spending time together entirely, despite their obvious affection for each other. Our time on this earth is limited, and a relationship doesn't have to be a complete failure for it to not pass a completely sensible cost-benefit test. Imaginary problems can become real problems, via action or inaction, and once they're manifest they will have to be dealt with one way or another. But though the reader might be tempted to conclude that that was that, they keep managing to learn the wrong lessons, if you can call them that, from their never-quite-permanent flings, and despite their inability to truly commit to each other, their relationships with other people somehow never quite pan out.

Speaking of which, while some of their other partners seem fine, some of them do not. Sexual compatibility in particular is important, as in real life, and Marianne's interest in submission leads her to some uncomfortable places, even with Connell, who's reluctant to play dominant with her in the way she seems to want. One of the most discomfiting scenes in the novel takes place in January 2013 with Jamie, a similarly rich kid she's been seeing for a few weeks. Shortly before what's essentially a domestic violence scene, Marianne reflects on herself:

"Early in their relationship, without any apparent forethought, she told him she was 'a submissive'. She was surprised even hearing herself say it: maybe she did it to shock him. What do you mean? he asked. Feeling worldly, she replied: You know, I like guys to hurt me. After that he started to tie her up and beat her with various objects. When she thinks about how little she respects him, she feels disgusting and begins to hate herself, and these feelings trigger in her an overwhelming desire to be subjugated and in a way broken. When it happens her brain simply goes empty, like a room with the light turned off, and she shudders into orgasm without any perceptible joy. Then it begins again."

I don't have any comment on how Rooney seems to tie Marianne's tendencies to her unhappy family life, but it should prompt some reflection on how we all relate to our own needs and desires. Something similar happens again in December 2013, where Lukas, the guy she's been seeing, wants to tie her up, but he does it in a way that she violently rejects: "Could he really do the gruesome things he does to her and believe at the same time that he's acting out of love? Is the world such an evil place, that love should be indistinguishable from the basest and most abusive forms of violence? Outside her breath rises in a fine mist and the snow keeps falling, like a ceaseless repetition of the same infinitesimally small mistake." It's hard to know how to express ourselves, but just before that, Marianne has made an interesting observation on how, despite the fact that we should know better, we associate a good sense of taste in someone with their potential goodness overall, and how often the two can be jarringly unrelated in reality:

"There's a mattress in the corner of the studio, where Lukas sleeps. The windows are very tall and run almost to the floor, with blinds and thin trailing curtains. Various unrelated items are dotted around the room: several large potted plants, stacks of atlases, a bicycle wheel. This array impressed Marianne initially, but Lukas later explained he had gathered the items intentionally for a shoot, which made them seem artificial to her. Everything is an effect with you, Marianne told him once. He took this as a compliment about his art. He does have immaculate taste. He's sensitive to the most minuscule of aesthetic failures, in painting, in cinema, even in novels or television shows. Sometimes when Marianne mentions a film she has recently watched, he waves his hand and says: It fails for me. This quality of discernment, she has realised, does not make Lukas a good person. He has managed to nurture a fine artistic sensitivity without ever developing any real sense of right and wrong. The fact that this is even possible unsettles Marianne, and makes art seem pointless suddenly."

It's an often hard-won insight that good taste doesn't make a good person (and perhaps the inverse, that bad taste isn't so dispositive), but, as always, the questions remains of what then really does make for something lasting. And so when it comes to the ending, where Marianne encourages Connell to go to the United States for a year, it was a real question for me of whether or not I found this romantic or not:

"You know I love you, says Connell. I'm never going to feel the same way for someone else.
She nods, okay. He's telling the truth.
To be honest, I don't know what to do, he says. Say you want me to stay and I will.
She closes her eyes. He probably won't come back, she thinks. Or he will, differently. What they have now they can never have back again. But for her the pain of loneliness will be nothing to the pain that she used to feel, of being unworthy. He brought her goodness like a gift and now it belongs to her. Meanwhile his life opens out before him in all directions at once. They've done a lot of good for each other. Really, she thinks, really. People can really change one another.
You should go, she says. I'll always be here. You know that."

Does that promise represent a failure to really learn from the past, a successful preservation of something vital, or something else? The lessons that we learn from our relationships aren't always the right ones, or even the ones we think we learn at the time. Both characters have grown and changed over the course of the novel, and yet their feelings for one another have, improbably, managed to remain equal in intensity if not identical in form to what they felt four years ago. At one point Marianne reflects that "Dwelling on the sight of Connell's face always gives Marianne a certain pleasure, which can be inflected with any number of other feelings depending on the minute interplay of conversation and mood. His appearance is like a favourite piece of music to her, sounding a little different each time she hears it." While all truly deep relationships represent a polyphony of sentiments, repeated chords of joyful touch, and enough syncopated interactions to retain our fascination, it's really the coda that truly determines our ultimate satisfaction. In that light, perhaps a successful relationship is just one that you don't want to end, and even if repetition of the last movement isn't quite as satisfying as a progression into new territory, as long as each spin uncovers new resonances the composer will have done their job, no matter if you've paused to listen to something else in between. A cherished album never truly relinquishes its hold, and perhaps it isn't always a bad thing to stick with one, filler tracks and all. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
The beginning of the story unfolds in Carricklea, Sligo in western Ireland. Our main characters are Connell and Marianne and they are young adults, attending the same school and about to decide on university options. Connell is very popular and from a middle class background. Marianne is from a well to do family, living in a mansion. She is considered strange and avoided at school. Connell's mother Lorraine is employed as a cleaner at Marianne's home and it's there Connell and Marianne first start talking and becoming friends.

Whatever went on in Marianne's early life shaped her to feel as if she could never be loved. She does not have friends and when things start up with Connell she is pleasantly surprised. They decide to keep their relationship a secret and this I found troubling.
When Marianne is physically abused Connell comes to her aid and she feels loved. He tells her she makes him happy.

"Even in memory she will find this moment unbearably intense.....She has never believed herself fit to be loved by any person. But now she has a new life...the beginning of my life."

They have a weird friendship and sexual relationship which eventually, as you can imagine, takes a huge turn. The setting then moves to Trinity in Dublin for university. Now the social situation is reversed and Marianne is the one with friends while Connell is at times merely tolerated.

Their lives and loves intertwine constantly over the years. They change each other, they support one another, they love and leave one another and always come back.

"All these years they've been like two little plants sharing the same plot of soil. growing around one another, contorting to make room, taking certain unlikely positions."

I enjoyed this author's writing style and will look for more. Sally Rooney was born in western Ireland in 1991 and I feel her firsthand knowledge of the area is accurately portrayed in this novel. ( )
  SquirrelHead | May 11, 2021 |
One of my favorite books of 2020.

More to come! ( )
  booksforbrunch | May 5, 2021 |
This was hard book for me to rate. I wanted to like it more than I did, but from the middle to the end it became quite tedious to read, and I struggled finishing it. ⁣
The sheer lack of communication between Marianne and Connell sometimes annoyed me to no end. So many issues & misunderstandings would have been solved had they just TALKED to one another. It bothers me when it happens on TV shows and movies as well. Some other readers disagree with me and praise how realistic this was, so to each their own. I also wish we could have had some more background on Marianne’s family and what made her mom & brother act the way they did. There was also a serious lack of quotation marks whenever a character spoke, so you didn’t know if they were thinking or speaking aloud. ⁣
I’m quite the fan of descriptive prose, but there were many paragraphs in here that I felt the need to skip because they offered absolutely nothing to the plot; overwrought details about a character making tea or washing dishes that goes on for half the page. If this were a scene in a movie I would fast forward to the dialogue. ⁣ ( )
  brookiexlicious | May 5, 2021 |
A gut punch of a book. Its appeal comes from endlessly relatable descriptions of the assumptions, misinterpretations, and lopsided social contracts that dominate relationships in youth. Rooney writes the psychology of smart, insecure white teens with cringe-inducing precision, toggling at just the right moments between tension and tenderness to cut into the reader. The observations were so well written it was easy to forgive flaws (e.g., the inexplicable Sheridans, the cringey Sweden bits). This story in the hands of a lesser writer would flop. Protect Marianne and Connell at all costs. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 170 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
[T]he idealized reading experience Rooney casts for her young writer is a magnetic mingling of literary minds that sharpens an intelligence capable not merely of imagining others but of imagining how to be close to them, even how to live with the responsibility of their happiness and dreams.
adicionada por ScattershotSteph | editarThe Nation, Hannah Gold (Sep 17, 2019)
 
[U]pon critical reflection, the novel’s territory comes to seem like more fog than not. Which is to say: it’s a novel about university life, but without collegiate descriptions or interactions with professors or references to intellectual histories or texts; about growing up, but without any adults [. . .]; about Ireland, but without any sense of place, national history, or even physical description (if Joyce wrote Ulysses in order that Dublin might be reconstructed brick by brick, you’d be hard pressed to even break ground using Normal People); about Connell becoming a writer, but without any meaningful access to his interior development, or any sense conveyed of how his creative “passion” inflects his life; and, finally, about Marianne and Connell’s intertwined fate where we are only intermittently given access to sustained moments of intimacy.
 
Rooney's slivers of insight into how Marianne and Connell wrestle with their emotions and question their identity in the process made it one of the most realistic portrayals of young love I've read. Their relationship is rife with mistakes, misunderstandings, and missed chances that could be simplified if only they communicated and didn't subconsciously suppress their feelings, as millennials are wont to do.
 
Here, youth, love and cowardice are unavoidably intertwined, distilled into a novel that demands to be read compulsively, in one sitting.
 
[W]hile Rooney may write about apparent aimlessness and all the distractions of our age, her novels are laser-focused and word-perfect. They build power by a steady accretion of often simple declarative sentences that track minuscule shifts in feelings.
adicionada por ScattershotSteph | editarNPR Books, Heller McAlpin (Apr 16, 2019)
 

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It is one of the secrets in that change of mental poise which has been fitly named conversion, that to many among us neither heaven nor earth has any revelation till some personality touches theirs with a peculiar influence, subduing them into receptiveness.
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It feels powerful to him to put an experience down in words, like he's trapping it in a jar and it can never fully leave him.
That's money, the substance that makes the world real. There's something so corrupt and sexy about it.
Outside her breath rises in a fine mist and the snow keeps falling, like a ceaseless repetition of the same infinitesimally small mistake.
His appearance is like a favorite piece of music to her, sounding a little different each time she hears it.
Not for the first time Marianne thinks cruelty does not only hurt the victim, but the perpetrator also, and maybe more deeply and more permanently. You learn nothing very profound about yourself simply by being bullied; but by bullying someone else you learn something you can never forget.
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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.

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