Normal People: Why I Think The TV Adaptation Is Better Than The Novel
This adaptation has definitely brought the novel to life! I guess it helps when the writer – Sally Rooney – herself works on the screenplay.
As a writer, I struggled with the deliberate lack of punctuation used in the novel, which I now see moved my focus away from the crux of the story.
On screen, I was able to zoom straight into the several themes which Rooney covers that affect teenagers moving into adulthood today.
From academic and peer pressures, to discovering love and sex; coping with financial and emotional deprivation; crumbling families; and to mental health issues, such as depression and self-harm.
But what will stay with me was watching how Marianne and Connell evolve from classmates to soulmates. Only those deeply in love with each other start conversations with “Are you alright?” as opposed to “How are you?”because they know deep down when something’s not right, and when something is.
There’s a difference between functional relationships and the sort of pure, innate love shared between people like Marianne and Connell: both accept each other unconditionally and embrace each other’s vulnerabilities from the beginning. Both break off (heart-wrenchingly) when they need to progress their careers, but the way they reunite is beautifully organic.
Of course, I was only able to glean all of this because of the impeccable performances by Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal. Plus, there was some lovely scenic locations across Ireland and continental Europe as well as evocative background musical scores.
If you haven’t read the novel, I would suggest you needn’t, because the TV series does a much better job in engaging us with the story and its several societal and familial messages.