What goes into making a perfect modern romance?

The 2018 book was of course one of the most acclaimed titles of the year – the novel everyone was heads- down in on public transport, a must-be-seen-to-read story shared widely on social media platforms particularly by those in their 20s. Rooney was hailed the ‘voice of a generation’ and the decade’s Salinger equivalent, but, hyperbole aside, it would be difficult to find someone who had read Normal People and didn’t devour it. Booksellers kept stashes hidden behind the counters, Waterstones branded it their favourite book of 2018, and it even made the prestigious Booker Prize longlist. That’s not to say Rooney’s writing is not brilliantly well observed, with a Joan Didion-like air of coolness and detachment; the simplicity of her prose and her ability to communicate a universal experience is of course what made her book so popular. It is, however, the sort of subject matter that might be sniffed at among academics – the tale of two Irish teenagers whomeet and fall in love at school and later go to university in Dublin. As a race we all strive for meaningful connection, the kind that feels like a slow exhale, or the gentle dropping of shoulders. Like in all good love stories, jeopardy lays ahead – with Marianne and Connell, it’s social divide, identity and communication blockages,while in Fleabag, it’s faith.