In Sally Rooney’s lauded, Man Booker-nominated Normal People (Faber & Faber, approx. €13.99, out now), she has written a novel even sweeter than her first.
School friends-with-benefits Marianne and Connell are, from the outside, opposites who attract and begin a romance that takes place in relatively ‘normal’ settings - in a bedroom, at a party. Connell’s mother is Marianne’s cleaner yet he is popular and she is not. He struggles despite this and when the tables turn and college years arrive, she blossoms while he is simply tolerated by those around him.
Related: Book review: Sally Rooney's beautiful coming-of-age love story
Cast and crew
So, you can imagine the anticipation when a 12-part BBC adaptation was announced with Rooney herself co-writing the episodes and Room's Lenny Abrahamson down to direct. Howard’s End’s Hettie McDonald will share the directorial duties on the series, which will air on BBC Three and BBC One next year. Abrahamson has said he was "incredibly excited" to have the chance to bring the Booker-nominated material to life.
Related: Irish female writers are having a moment. Vogue declared it, therefore it must be so
The series, like the book, spans from 2011 to 2015, tracing the ever-shifting dynamics between Connell, played by Paul Mescal in his television debut, and Marianne played by Daisy Edgar Jones, as they move from high school through Trinity College Dublin. Also in the cast are Sarah Greene (who will play Connell's mother), and Aislín McGuckin from Outlander.
Filming took place in Dublin and County Sligo in Ireland, with the production then moving to Italy to film chapters set during a holiday.
“I don't know if they are necessarily always best for each other,” Edgar-Jones told Vanity Fair of the characters relationship, “but there's something about their relationship that they can't let go of.”
“My favourite scenes from the book generally took the form of conversations between the two protagonists — in abandoned houses, in apartment kitchens, in cars, and in bed,” Rooney writes for Vanity Fair. “I'm excited to see those dynamics beginning to unfold in a new way on the screen.”
Given that these intimate conversations in the novel – about everything and nothing at all – are a highlight, it does mean that regardless, we'll see the best of the book reworked for the small screen.
Normal People will be produced by Element Pictures, the production company behind The Favourite, The Lobster and Room.
The series might be a while away from its release but photographs have been released giving fans a first glimpse at some of the characters, more of which you can see below.
Main photograph: @VanityFair