The 'Normal People' Book Ending Is As Frustrating As You'd Expect

by Alice Broster
BBC/Element Pictures/Hulu

BBC Three has announced that their much-anticipated adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People will air on April 26. This means it isn’t long before fans of Rooney’s critically acclaimed second novel will see Marianne and Connell come to life onscreen. However, if you're never read the story, and are eager to work out how the TV series will conclude, you may be wondering how the Normal People book ends. Rooney has been instrumental in the casting and filming of the series. So, if it stays true to the original story, viewers should be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotions.

Normal People is the ‘will they won’t they’ story of Connell and Marianne’s relationship. They live very different lives but are intrinsically bound together. Their relationship starts in secret, but soon it becomes very obvious these two are mean to be together and, despite a few arguments and break ups along the way. viewers will be pleased to know that Marianne and Connell do end up together.

However, this being Sally Rooney and all, of course it’s not that simple. The novel ends with Connell publishing a short story and becoming the editor of Trinity College's literary magazine. He’s just made things official with Marianne when he finds out that he’s got a place on a Master's program at Cornell University in the U.S.

Connell is pleased with his news but it means he has to leave Marianne again. While she worries it’ll mark the end of their relationship, he assures her she’s the only one for him. But that's where we leave them. Frustratingly, we never learn whether Connell goes to America and, if he does, whether their relationship survives long distance. Sequel, anyone?

Sally Rooney co-wrote the first six episodes of the BBC adaptation of Normal People and if the trailer is anything to go off, it looks very true to the story. Although the ending makes the story sound like a straightforward romance novel, it’s anything but that. Connell and Marianne have two very different experiences of school. He’s popular and charming and she is shy and doesn’t have any friends. However, as the novel goes on they realise their background doesn’t really matter. They save each other time and time again.

Speaking about the difference between the book and series Rooney said:

“The biggest challenge of adapting the book was trying to make the inner lives of the characters legible through their outward actions. In some ways Normal People is a novel about the differences between the characters’ outer and inner selves, so we had to find new ways to dramatise those differences on screen. As with all aspects of the adaptation, my co-writer Alice Birch was enormously helpful in tackling that challenge.”

All 12 episodes of Normal People will drop on BBC iPlayer on April 26. The first two episodes will be shown on BBC One the following day and, after that, two episodes will air every Monday.