Sukie and Nathan are set to collide. They have been tangled up in each other’s lives since she was an infant and he attended her christening. Sukie’s mother is dead, her father is dying, and she has been living on-and-off with Nathan since she was 19. He’s older, wiser, and much wealthier. She’s been in Boston, and he picks her up from the airport. They are charged from the get go.
“My love for him felt so total and annihilating that it was often impossible for me to see him clearly at all.”
All of the usual Rooney hallmarks are present, wrapped in the traditional fug of, as the husband calls it, “Irish Melancholy”. The beautiful without trying to be beautiful, the sad without a want in the world, the powerless sense of being adrift and alone with parents dead, dying, or otherwise incapacitated. Most importantly though, desire. Desire burns bright and dangerous from the start. Rooney writes about relationships in a way that feels utterly foreign yet terribly familiar. Even if you have not experienced a Rooney-style “romance”, you know what it means to feel it all trapped within your bones.
I plan to re-read (and re-watch, who am I kidding?) Normal People while I wait impatiently for September’s Beautiful World, Where Are You, but during short breaks when I need a pick-me-up without Rooney’s usual everlasting ache I will happily (and wistfully, really) breeze through this sliver again.