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Normal people, extraordinary readers

The effect of the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People on social media has been extraordinary.  The novel has gone from being chiefly a literary work discussed by a Newsnight-type audience and rhapsodised over by columnists like Sian Cain in the Guardian美女自卫慰黄网站 who said it had ‘trapped a moment – in this case, our new sense of collective precariousness – whether individual, economic or political’, to a Tik Tok hit that appeals to a crowd that not so long ago were reading and watching the screen adaptations of Anna Todd and John Green novels.

We all know why of course. The ‘hot priest’ from "Fleabag" has now slid into cultural memory to be replaced by the ‘hot schoolboy/student’ from "Normal People" played by unknown actor Paul Mescal for whom these few weeks will surely be his "Bodyguard" moment in terms of his career.

美女自卫慰黄网站There are some unusual firsts that should be noted. How many (any?) modern, fictional character have ever had their own Hotmail account? Has any modern fictional character’s single item of jewellery ever boasted its own Instagram account? Connell Waldron, the character played by Mescal, and his thin neck chain have both.

When viewer Travis Smith saw Connell’s email address in episode six he sent him a note offering sympathy and advice over (on/off partner) Marianne – and he got a reply.  ‘Thanks for your email mate,’ Connell wrote. ‘I feel like I keep making the same mistake over and over, but I don’t trust myself not to hurt her again and I don’t feel in control of my emotions’.

美女自卫慰黄网站Neither Hulu, which broadcasts the show in the US, nor the BBC, which made the show with RTÉ, say they have any connection with the account, which means it is either someone in Faber marketing (Cool job! 'What do you do at work?' 'Oh I pretend to be the hot guy from "Normal People')¸ or Rooney herself, or Mescal or someone who just happens to be called Connell Waldron. My own view is that it is Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page himself, whiling away the lockdown.

Whatever, it is not doing the book any harm at all, sending it flying up the the Nielsen BookScan charts, and The Bookseller's e-book lists.  Such attention, one assumes, is also introducing the book to a whole new audience.

美女自卫慰黄网站Meanwhile, another fan set up an Instragram account for Connell’s neck chain at that now has more than 94,000 followers. Gosh, Faber could go down the merch’ route with this.

美女自卫慰黄网站The posts are frequently very funny. There is even one from health and beauty brand GHD which asks, against a picture of Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones (Marianne): 'If I get a fringe after lockdown will I also get a Connell? Asking for a friend.'

美女自卫慰黄网站Another Tik Tok shows pictures of Connell and a young woman miming to Gemma Collins from "The Only Way is Essex" (a.k.a. Towie) saying 'Imagine if he fell in love with me and then we just run off to Sicily together and I bought a house in Sicily and had babies with him and eat [sic] pasta and he didn’t care'… Without wishing to cast aspersions over normal people's reading habits, this feels like a long way from a Booker audience (the book was longlisted in 2018).

Connell now joins a teen-tinged list that includes Ansel Elgort ("Fault in Our Stars", "Baby Driver"), Timothée Chalamet ("Call me by your name", "Little Women") and Noah Centineo (from Netflix’s "To all the Boys I loved Before"). Perhaps Faber should even consider an explicitly YA edition of the novel?

美女自卫慰黄网站People are clamouring for a sequel which might well solve Rooney’s problem of what to do next.  She has already conquered the difficult ‘second single’ question.

Meanwhile, some people are already revealing how they are coping with the end of the story. A recent Tik Tok post headed ‘When Normal People finishes’ has a young woman looking at different shots of Connell while she hums and taps away at a laptop.  Gradually, some words appear in the search bar above: ‘flights to Ireland…’

美女自卫慰黄网站Congratulations to Faber and all involved. The timing was perfect. For a great swathe of us this drama will always evoke these strange, few, quiet lockdown weeks. Normal people, abnormal times.

 

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