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Normal People by Sally Rooney

(80 Posts)
HappydaysArehere Mon 15-Jul-19 19:15:48

Not that far into above and can’t make my mind up as to whether it is going to be a crashing bore or a book I will enjoy.....in the end. Anyone reading it? Would appreciate any input.

Iamthewombat Mon 15-Jul-19 19:21:37

I’ve just finished it and could not understand how it attracted such glowing reviews. It was like something written by a sixth former.

I kept waiting for the touching, human moments. No. Even Maeve Binchy, who never got near a Costa prize, made that look easy!

I have now moved on to a Kate Atkinson book, which is in a different league entirely.

AnneKipanki Tue 16-Jul-19 16:08:35

I finished it yesterday . It took me 3 days to read it. I liked it .
It is a bit different to what I normally read.

I am a bit ambivalent about it though.

lancashirebornandbred Tue 16-Jul-19 18:36:50

I really didn’t like it. I borrowed it from the library when it first came out, but only managed about 40 pages and took it back. Tried again a few months later when it was being lauded to the heavens, but I still couldn’t get on with it. Really can’t see why it’s supposed to be so special.

Fibbke Tue 16-Jul-19 18:38:01

Is that the one about the young couple? I quite liked it

Portulaca Tue 16-Jul-19 18:45:00

Found it utterly tedious. Battled on to the end but really should have DNF'd it early on. Didn't like her other novel much either.

AnneKipanki Tue 16-Jul-19 21:10:17

I think some might find it unpleasant and distasteful.

panticus Tue 16-Jul-19 23:01:29

I did not enjoy it much and thought Conversations with Friends was a lot better. Normal People felt like a YA novel to me

KitKatKit Tue 16-Jul-19 23:04:39

It was underwhelming. Also not sure how it got such rave reviews.

LadyWithLapdog Tue 16-Jul-19 23:07:44

Oh, I loved it. It made me think back to being young and caring for things intensely and getting things wrong.

Fibbke Wed 17-Jul-19 07:51:35

Yeah it reminded me of my youth tbh. And the guy in it was so sweet.

Bezalelle Wed 17-Jul-19 08:33:35

I cannot fathom the hype around Sally Rooney. Possibly the most tedious, unartful dreck I've ever tried to read.

EarringsandLipstick Thu 18-Jul-19 13:25:09

Oh I'm surprised about the responses!

It's not my style, usually, but I did really like it - I preferred Conversations with Friends

I think (may be wrong on this) but it particularly resonates with Irish people (i.e. me!) because so much of it captures a period of time in Ireland; younger than my era but people that I see all the time (I work at a university).

I didn't empathise with the characters, in the main, agree quite a lot of, oh God, WHAT are you doing? But I found the writing compelling and more so because it did unsettle me and make me think.

A friend and I read the book at the same time; we found we couldn't even really talk about it afterwards and struggled to exactly sum up what we thought. I liked feeling challenged like that!

highdo Thu 18-Jul-19 13:29:17

I really liked Normal People, it felt like a real insight into a relationship as it progressed over the years. I'm a big fan of Maggie O'Farrell and it reminded me of some of her novels in terms of style. I've got Conversations With Friends to read next and am looking forward to it.

EarringsandLipstick Thu 18-Jul-19 13:29:34

PP who mentions Maeve Binchy is waaay off the mark though. I'm a major Maeve Binchy fan, love, love, love her writing and have spent YEARS defending people who miss its brilliance and put it down as non-literary and like it just 'happens', when actually, though it appears easy, it's really carefully crafted and catches Irish thinking, idioms and ways of being so well.

But it's not comparable to Sally Rooney's writing. I don't think one is better or worse - just different.

In regard to not getting near a Costa prize, I know MB didn't but her writing was never regarded like that; it was really in its own category. And I agree - she did make all of it look easy, had so many touching moments but that was her style.

In fact, I'd posit that MB writing is all about empathy and SR's is almost the opposite - brittle, hard, individualistic thinking ...

TheBigBallOfOil Thu 18-Jul-19 13:33:58

I found it strangely compulsive but will not reread. I found way in which the abuse that the female character had clearly suffered was dealt with quite distasteful, im not sure why. Almost as though the writer was bored and vaguely sneery about the possibility of connection between that and her later behaviour.
I can’t imagibe the writer is terrribly likeable. Mind you I would have said the same about Nabokov on the basis of Lolita and apparently he was a delightful man, if somewhat dismissive of those not punching at his intellectual weight.

TheBigBallOfOil Thu 18-Jul-19 13:35:08

It’s quite an affected book, actually. It’s posing. I don’t like that.

EarringsandLipstick Thu 18-Jul-19 18:09:57

BigBall
I know what you mean - but I think that's intentional, the authorial voice is reflective of the time period and types of characters she describes that can be really typical of that university (Trinity College) and the time period and demographics.
I do definitely think (even though of course it has wider acclaim) that it's easier to 'get' this book (whether you like it or not) if you are Irish. (though I recognise that's a probably ridiculous statement in light of most other Irish writing, just this writer and her books in particular I mean, IMO)

Nestinghedgehog Thu 18-Jul-19 20:03:35

Unfortunately for me it was one of those books that I wish I had not bothered with. It had the potential to be a much better book than it is

bookworm14 Thu 18-Jul-19 20:20:21

It was ok but certainly didn’t live up to the hype. I can’t understand why it was hailed as the pinnacle of literary fiction when to me it read on the same level as something like David Nicholls’ One Day.

BookBookBook Sat 20-Jul-19 09:58:34

I think (may be wrong on this) but it particularly resonates with Irish people (i.e. me!) because so much of it captures a period of time in Ireland

Not sure about this -- I'm Irish and remain quite ambivalent about both Sally Rooney novels. I think she's very talented, but after two books, I'm a bit past the identikit edgy, skinny, jolie-laide, chainsmoking, sexually free-spirited undergraduate heroine and the deliberately flat prose. I do find both novels somewhat hung up on their own 'cool' credentials.

But I think in part they're addressed to a younger reader. It's not for nothing someone has dubbed SR the 'Salinger of the Snapchat generation.'

TheBigBallOfOil Sat 20-Jul-19 10:23:32

“Hung up on their cool credentials” yes that’s what I was trying and failing to express.
I suspect a lot of older readers are picking up these books in hopes of understanding the younger generation, thinking “oh god” and putting them down again.

ScreamingValenta Sat 20-Jul-19 10:33:14

I got about 1/3 of the way through and gave up. I found the characters boring - I didn't like or dislike them, I simply didn't care what happened to them. The oh-so-cool punctuation (or lack thereof) was irritating. Nothing of note seemed to be happening in the plot. I couldn't see the point of the book at all.

Possibly I am not the author's target audience. However, truly well-written books should have an appeal that transcends demographics - for this reason, I'm surprised this book has gained so many plaudits and awards, in a way I wouldn't have been had the novel been merely a commercial success.

Knitwit99 Sat 20-Jul-19 10:45:42

I liked this one but didn't get half way through Conversations with Friends. The characters reminded me of me and my life growing up, the different personas you have in different places, coming from an average sort of place to somewhere fancy and having to find your way.

AnneKipanki Sat 20-Jul-19 11:02:57

I have just bought the debut novel. I am going to give it a shot.

Normal People reminds me of American Psycho... difficult to get into . some unpleasant aspects...would you recommend it to others ? Not sure .

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