“Love, sex, class, work, miscommunication and melancholy are all described in prose that is somehow at once lapidary and mysterious; glittering but with the feeling of something moving like weather behind the sentences.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
This is the story of Connell and Marianne and their journey with and apart from each other.
Living in the same Irish town and going to the same school, the two nevertheless don’t interact.
Marianne is the poor, little rich girl living in the big, white house who is considered wierd and shunned by everyone in school and out of it. Connell is the polar opposite, friendly and popular. But they share a connection the others don’t know about.. Connell’s mother, Lorraine, works as a cleaner in Marianne’s house. And it is when Connell comes to the house to pick his mother that they tentatively strike up a conversation and discover a bond that neither is able to break after that.
Connell doesn’t find Marianne unfriendly or any of the other negative things he has heard and the two embark on a relationship, but because he doesn’t want to become a social pariah, he keeps it under wraps. Marianne is ok with this until Connell does something humiliating that she cannot forgive and they drift apart, while still remaining friends.
A year later, in the same college, roles are reversed as Connell is the one feeling out of his depth and lonely and Marianne is the social butterfly with friends who listen to what she has to say with interest. They hang out together and renew their relationship of sorts but there is always friction. They can’t be together but they cannot stay away either.
Over the years in college, both go through phases of success, frustration, extreme unhappiness, depression and pain, always looking for and relying on each other whether they are together or not.
Their connection, unexplained and unbreakable, sustains them through the despair of loneliness, breakups and feelings of not being able to fit into the world they find themselves in.
The style of telling the story is very interesting, with time moving in slabs of months and the POV alternating between Connell and Marianne and always narrating what brought them to that point in reverse.
It is a beautiful exploration of friendship and love between two individuals who seem perfect for each other but cannot overcome the forces that keep them from truly accepting this. The writing is very descriptive and truly brings out the angst between the two protagonists.
I loved the journey and the end and I read this book in a single day, so good was it for me!
Added 26th June 2020