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Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)

On the way home from Dublin in the car, she and Connell talked without stopping, joking and putting on funny voices to make each other laugh. Looking back now, Marianne wonders if they were nervous. When they got to Foxfield it was dark and the windows were full of coloured lights. Connell carried their bags in from the boot. In the living room Marianne sat by the fire while Lorraine made tea. The tree, packed between the television and couch, was blinking light in repetitive patterns. Connell came in carrying a cup of tea and put it on the arm of her chair. Before sitting down he stopped to rearrange a piece of tinsel. It did look much better where he put it. Marianne’s face and hands were very hot by the fire. Lorraine came in and started telling Connell about which relatives had visited already, and which were visiting tomorrow, and so on. Marianne felt so relaxed then that she almost wanted to close her eyes and sleep.

The house in Foxfield was busy over Christmas. Late into the night people would be arriving and leaving, brandishing wrapped biscuit tins or bottles of whiskey. Children ran past at knee height yelling unintelligibly. Someone brought a Play-Station over one night and Connell stayed up until two in the morning playing FIFA with one of his younger cousins, their bodies greenish in the screen light, a look of almost religious intensity on Connell’s face. Marianne and Lorraine were in the kitchen mostly, rinsing dirty glasses in the sink, opening chocolate boxes, endlessly refilling the kettle. Once they heard a voice exclaim from the front room: Connell has a girlfriend? And another voice replied: Yeah, she’s in the kitchen. Lorraine and Marianne exchanged a look. They heard a brief thunder of footsteps, and then a teenage boy appeared in the doorway wearing a United jersey. Immediately on seeing Marianne, who was standing at the sink, the boy became shy and stared at his feet. Hi there, she said. He flicked her a nod without making eye contact, and then trudged a retreat to the living room. Lorraine thought that was really funny.

On New Year’s Eve they saw Marianne’s mother in the supermarket. She was wearing a dark suit with a yellow silk blouse. She always looked so ‘put together’. Lorraine said hello politely and Denise just walked past, not speaking, eyes ahead. No one knew what she believed her grievance was. In the car after the supermarket Lorraine reached back from the passenger seat to squeeze Marianne’s hand. Connell started the car. What do people in town think of her? Marianne said.

Who, your mother? said Lorraine.

I mean, how do people see her?

With a sympathetic expression Lorraine said gently: I suppose she’d be considered a bit odd.

It was the first time Marianne had heard that, or even thought about it. Connell didn’t engage in the conversation. That night he wanted to go out to Kelleher’s for New Year’s. He said everyone from school was going. Marianne suggested she might just stay in and he appeared to consider this for a moment before saying: No, you should come out. She lay face down on the bed while he changed out of one shirt into another one. Far be it from me to disobey an order, she said. He looked in the mirror and caught her eye. Yeah, exactly, he said.