This was one of Faintingviolet’s top reads of 2019, and I also desperately wanted to watch the Hulu show, especially after Dustin’s review. They were both right- this book was great.
If you haven’t seen the Hulu trailer, this is a teenage/college age lovestory, set first in Sligo, northwest Ireland, and later in Dublin. The two main characters are flawed but compelling- Marianne is smart, witty, not particularly pretty and uninterested in what other people think about her. She also has the fortune/misfortune of being born into a rich but abusive family. Connell is smart, shy, athletic and cares a great deal of what other people think about him. He has the fortune/misfortune of being born to a working class single mother, who is a part-time housecleaner for Marianne’s family. Although teenage hormones likely play a role in the initial spark for their romance, their relationship is enduring, and arcs from lovers to friends and back again.
I tore through this in two days (and that felt restrained- I wasn’t ready for it to end). One of my girlfriends described it best when she said that the Irish are just so good at writing about longing- the longing in this book is off the charts. There were parts of this that deeply reminded me of my first love, which involved multiple breakups and getting back together, with all of the associated lust, heartbreak, and trust issues. Rooney captures this type of love so perfectly and so far the episodes of the TV show are just as good as (possibly better than?!) the book.
As an FYI for those thinking of reading/watching- there is some darkness to both Marianne and Connell’s stories- not just Marianne’s horrible family, but a depression that both characters go through. I agree with some other reviews that Connell’s depression was treated with what felt like more compassion- this, plus the ending of the book, which I didn’t love, were the main criticisms I have for Rooney. I hear the TV series sticks the ending better, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do with it. Finally, I wanted to note that despite these criticisms, it was still one of my favorites that I’ve read this year and I definitely recommend reading it.
Cbr12bingo #Cannonballer says