I thought I should write it all down lest I forget. (Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t read Sally Rooney’s Normal People)
Last night we watched Sally Rooney’s Normal People. (Not all of it, some episodes remain to be seen.)
A friend had gifted me Rooney’s novel when we moved from the UK to Ireland.
My husband hadn’t read the novel. While he is a reader too, we have different tastes and preferences.
So here is how my husband reacted whilst watching the series. (And if I may dare say, with growing interest and actually getting hooked to the story and the central characters. It also helped that the novel is set in Sligo; we visited Sligo in June last year and the husband fell in love with the landscape and the tabletop mountain Benbulben whilst there)
Husband: These people are having too much sex. Is this all about sex?
Me: Of course not. Doesn’t Murakami have sex?
Husband: But I read those parts super-fast. Plus, Marianne and Connell are in school.
Me: Can’t generalise either way, but it seems that some people start having sex while they are in school.
Husband: But isn’t this too much sex? Is Rooney like a softer version of the Fifty Shades of Grey author?
Me: I don’t think so. There is much more nuance, and the characters and story is layered. And I don’t think Rooney is going to like being compared to Fifty Shades of Grey, but well, who knows.
Husband: Okay, but the teacher hitting on Cornell? Aa na chale. This is not done. Teachers aava hoi? Are teachers like that? They can’t be like that.
Me: He isn’t her student anymore when she hits on him. And throughout history, romance/affairs between teachers and students have always been there. It’s very well documented, I think.
Husband: But why are Marianne and Cornell all so sad? They are always sad.
Me: It’s dysfunction, and damage. That’s where the complexity of the characters and their families and circumstances lie.
Husband: But the boy keep crying.
Me: Boys can cry, you know. Just because you don’t.
Husband: But why are they so unhappy with their lives?
Me: Why is anyone unhappy with their life? Aren’t we all unhappy in our own individual ways?
Husband: You have read the novel. Does one of them take their life?
Me: I am not telling you.
Husband: Shall we watch the rest of the episodes? You are not telling me if one of them takes their life or they marry each other.
Me: No, I am not telling you.
Husband: These people are very unhappy.
Me: But very interesting no? You are talking about watching the rest of the series.
Non-committal nod and murmuring follows.
Me: Will you read the book afterwards?
Husband: Let’s see.