Normal People, by Sally Rooney, explores the dynamics between two socially opposite people (Connell and Marianne) – and how they clash and also how they come together.
Connell hails from a severely middle-class, single parent background, while Marianne was born into money. On the outside looking in, the two of them appear at odds with the other, yet their connection is somehow unavoidable and oddly romantic, in a very un-romantic kind of way.
Normal People had my attention very early on. On a personal level, differences in social class and status hit home for me, and so I was immediately intrigued. Love is often the only common ground between two people, and yet sometimes that’s all that’s needed.
But Rooney’s novel quickly became very repetitive and oftentimes, predictable. Whether this is simply to do with what the title suggests, I cannot say. But I can say I was severely disappointed. The fire I was hoping for was not there, and the ending was one that seemed almost at odds with what the story seemed to convey.
Although I can understand the idea of ‘Normal People’ having normal, uneventful, angst-y and uncomfortable lives, the notion made the novel seem un-novellish. Yes, I know that isn’t a real word. Hopefully you get what I mean without me spoiling too much of it.
Personally, I think some people will find this book better than others, depending on their personal experiences with social classes, status and love itself. For me, I could not seem to find any strong feeling of connection with the ending, although I connected on some level with both the characters.
A guide to the top 5 things to do in the romantic city of San Francisco.
1. The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is an incredible sight. Declared a Wonder of the Modern World, The Bridge alone sees over 10 million visitors a year – and it’s easy to see why – it’s truly magnificent, whichever angle you look at it.
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognized symbols of San Francisco, and spans 1.6 kilometres. A good view of the Bridge can be found from multiple vantage points – one of them being from Alcatraz Island – next on the ‘must-see’ list.
Alcatraz Island is roughly 2.5 kilometres from the shores of San Francisco. You can get there by boat, with multiple companies sending tourists over every day from the docks.
The Golden Gate Bridge can be seen both by boat and on the island – and if you manage to secure a night-tour of the penitentiary, you can watch the sunset over the Bridge.
Alcatraz holds many secrets and tales of daring escape attempts, having held many famous prisoners, including Al Capone. Walking through its walls and cells is slightly eerie, especially as night falls, however the interactive audio set you are given is incredibly fact-heavy and walks you through at your own pace.
It’s definitely worth seeing if you’re in the area – the history of such a place is definitely very interesting to learn about.
The Fisherman’s Wharf is a must-see while in San Francisco. There’s plenty to see and do, from shopping at the local market stalls, learning about the history of the area or getting some of the freshest seafood in the city.
Fisherman’s Wharf is close to public transport, the city and has plenty of car-parking. You can hire bikes, visit the old-school arcade or simply wonder along the waterfront. It’s close to the Aquarium of the Bay, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not Museum.
Known as the ‘crookedest street’ in the world, Lombard Street has steep hills and curving corners that pass by some amazing Victorian Manors. The street is truly iconic and has amazing views.
Lombard Street attracts a large number of visitors every year, and provides a free, but very photogenic place to visit. It’s not far from the Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square, so if you’re in the area, you may as well check Lombard Street out!
Visiting LA? Don’t forget to check out these fun-filled theme parks!
*Before you go…
Although not compulsory, if you are planning on going to a few theme parks while in Los Angeles, your best bet is to purchase an ‘LA Go Card‘ before you go.
This is a once off purchase, giving you access to Universal Studios, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, Legoland, Warner Bro’s Studio and much more. The ‘Go Card’ varies in price from $92 for a one-day pass to $360 for a seven-day pass, but it saves you loads of money and messing around, and can be personalized to suit your needs.
If you don’t want to purchase a ‘Go Card’, it’s still worth purchasing your tickets in advance, online. The prices at the gates are much higher – and the earlier you purchase your ticket, the better price you’ll pay.
1. Universal Studios
Universal Studios Hollywood is a must-see destination if you’re in Los Angeles.
Featuring a slew of shops, restaurants and attractions, including the ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter’, ‘The Simpsons Ride’ and much more, Universal Studios knows how to exceed expectations. The park sees over 6 million people annually, and is home to a bunch of working TV stations.
Based in Anaheim, roughly 45 minutes from Los Angeles, Disneyland and it’s sister park, Disneyland California Adventure Park are the product of fairy tales.
‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ is Disneyland’s slogan, and they’re pretty much correct. The staff are welcoming and stay in character throughout all visitor interactions, and the attractions are incredible. Although neither of the Disney Parks use the ‘LA Go Card’, it’s still worth paying a bit extra to see what all the fuss is about.
Disneyland California Adventure Park boasts roller-coasters and incredible sets from everyone’s favourite movies – including ‘Cars Land’, while Disneyland features the famous Disney Castle and attractions like ‘Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge’.
There’s truly something for everyone – and if you’re visiting, Downtown Disney has a bunch of shops and restaurants too!
If you’re after adrenaline-inducing rides, Six Flags is for you.
Located in Valencia, approximately 40 minutes out of Los Angeles, Six Flags is full of high-speed roller-coasters and rides that will blow your mind. Although the park has family-friendly attractions too, it’s the thrilling rides that bring in the most visitors.
Worth the trip, and generally not as crowded as Disneyland or Universal Studios, as it is a little further away.
Knott’s Berry Farm oozes a form of old-fashioned nostalgia. Located in Buena Park – roughly half an hour from Los Angeles, this theme park is a great ‘in-between’ park, which caters for the thrill seekers and the little ones.
Knott’s Berry Farm has something for everyone – with four themed areas, including the ‘Old West Ghost Town’, ‘Camp Snoopy’, the ‘Fiesta Village’ and ‘The Boardwalk’.
Stroll around Knott’s Berry Farm with an ice-cream, or hop on one of the world-class roller-coasters (if you dare!).
Located in San Diego, roughly an hour and a half from Los Angeles, Legoland has an array of attractions. Although the park is designed mostly to appeal to children (the roller-coasters are very family friendly, so to speak), there’s still plenty to explore for the adults too.
Legoland boasts ‘Miniland USA’ which features over 32 million bricks in its constructions – including a mini-sized Las Vegas, New York and New Orleans. If you have time and don’t mind a drive, Legoland is worth chucking in the itinerary.