Book Review of Normal People by Sally Rooney

by Liz Keating '24 on May 30, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Normal People by Sally Rooney follows the on-and-off relationship between main characters Connell and Marianne from their final year of high school in a small town in Ireland to their time at Trinity College in Dublin. Connell is a popular high school athlete from a working-class family who is struggling to find his place in society, while Marianne is an outsider from a wealthy family who is ostracized by her peers due to her family’s reputation. Despite their different social statuses, Connell and Marianne are drawn to each other, and their relationship develops and changes over time. As the book follows them through high school and then to college, they go through periods of intense closeness and then periods of distance, with miscommunications and misunderstandings often driving them apart. Rooney’s writing style is both eloquent and minimalist, capturing the raw emotions of the characters with ease. 

The novel’s structure is unconventional, with short chapters and no quotation marks, adding to the overall feeling of intimacy between the reader and the characters. Throughout the novel, Rooney explores themes of love, friendship, social class, power dynamics, and the impacts of trauma. The plot is character-driven with focus on the internal struggles and personal growth of the two main characters. Overall, Normal People is a beautifully written novel that is sure to resonate with readers, especially those who enjoy character-driven plots. Rooney’s skillful handling of complex themes and characters make this a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary literature.

A Literary Love Affair: A Review of Beach Read by Emily Henry

by Liz Keating '24 on May 29, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

As the weather warms up and the days turn longer, there is no better time to pick up a nice book. If you are looking for a heartwarming contemporary romance to enjoy at the beach, look no further. True to its name, Beach Read by Emily Henry is a novel that perfectly captures the essence of summer with its poignant exploration of love, loss, and the power of storytelling. 

The novel tells the story of January Andrews, a romance writer who is struggling to come to terms with her father’s death and her own failing career. When January moves into her late father’s beach house, she discovers that her next-door neighbor is none other than her former college rival, literary fiction writer Augustus “Gus” Everett. As January and Gus begin to spend time together, they make a bet to switch genres and write a book in each other’s style. In the process, they begin to open up to each other about their pasts and form a deep connection. However, their budding romance is complicated by their past history and the secrets they both carry. 

One of the strengths of the novel is the examination of one’s creative process and the power of storytelling. January and Gus are both writers, but they approach their craft in very different ways. January is a romance writer who believes in happy endings, while Gus is a literary fiction writer who favors a more pessimistic view of the world. Through their collaboration on the book project, they learn to appreciate each other’s styles and gain a new understanding of the power of storytelling to connect and heal. 

The relationship between January and Gus is a highlight of the novel. While they start off as rivals, their initial animosity slowly gives way to a deep connection and mutual respect. They challenge each other intellectually and emotionally, and their conversations are some of the most memorable moments in the book. Their romance is complicated by their past history and the secrets they both carry, but ultimately, they find a way to overcome their differences and find happiness together. 

In terms of pacing, the novel strikes a perfect balance between introspection and action. While there are plenty of quiet moments when the characters reflect on their lives and relationships, there are also enough plot twists and surprises to keep the reader engaged and invested in the story. 

Overall, Beach Read is a beautifully written and emotionally resonant novel that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page. It is a celebration of love, loss, and the power of storytelling. It’s a perfect book to read on the beach, but it’s also a book that can be enjoyed at any time of the year. Highly recommended for anyone who loves a good story and a great romance.

Standout Music of 2022

by Liz Keating '24 on November 17, 2022
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

All of the albums you need to hear before the year is over

With the year slowly coming to a close, now is the time to catch up on all the great music that may have slipped through the cracks. 2022 was a very successful year for popular artists like Beyonce, The Weekend, Bad Bunny, and Taylor Swift—with all of those artists releasing record-breaking albums. It was not just a successful year for the seasoned pros, as many new artists made their mark in the industry, like Wet Leg, Nilüfer Yanya, and Angel Olsen. From spoken word indie to soulful country, in no particular order.  Here are all of the standout albums from 2022.

  • Omar Apollo – Ivory

Omar Apollo’s captivating debut full-length, Ivory, is beautiful, making the listener believe it’s effortlessness despite its complex production choices and rich sonic flourishes. Apollo’s sense of maturity roots the project even when it is branching out in several directions, and the songs remain playful yet tender, free yet concentrated.

  • Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

The beloved Brooklyn band explores their own backyard with their indie-folk sound on its 20-song double LP, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You, in search of fresh nuances and insights. Big Thief indulges in the traditional, mythical, and arcane, but their music is finest when they overlap eras and historical map points. This album is full of reckless, try-everything ambition.

  • Father John Misty – Chloë and the Next 20th Century

Father John Misty’s fifth and most recent album, Chloë and the Next 20th Century, is his least Misty-like one yet. Chloë has intricate, expansive orchestral arrangements, tying together with characters including Chloë, Simone, and a deceased Turkish Angora, as well as an overarching theme of Hollywood—the same one he entered on 2012’s Fun Times in Babylon. Josh Tillman’s songwriting is adaptable and has the power to go beyond its time. The songs are more than accurate imitations of classic styles—they are methodically flawless.

  • Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers

In Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, we find Lamar in more vulnerable territory than ever before, despite the fact that he figuratively presents himself as Jesus on the album cover. Lamar’s longtime partner Whitney Alford serves as the narrator as they take us on a journey through his mind. Lamar, who is constantly influenced by jazz, is diligent in following the sonic development in his mind. The album finds a middle ground between purposeful dissonance and hurriedness. Since most songs are divided into one or three different beats, each song has the kind of narrative texture you’d anticipate from an entire album.

  • FKA Twigs – Caprisongs

Part of what makes the unbridled avant-pop on her new mixtape, Caprisongs, such an epic thrill is the rawness of FKA Twigs’s previous work. FKA Twigs is still going through some pain, but she is unrestrained. Instead, she chooses to center herself, her friends, and her joy as she finds release in the sounds of euphoric dance floors and cavernous clubs from London to Jamaica. Twigs has transformed R&B wisps and electronic abstractions into highly visual concept art throughout her career. Although Caprisongs is her most lighthearted album to date, she is able to maintain her creative nonconformity and intimacy.

Passing the Medallion

by Liz Keating '24 on November 4, 2022
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Liam Hemsworth set to replace Henry Cavill in Season 4 of Netflix’s hit show, The Witcher

This past Saturday, Netflix announced that a new actor will play Geralt of Rivia in the fourth season of The Witcher, stating that Liam Hemsworth will take the place of Henry Cavill in the fantasy series after three seasons. The third season is expected to air in the summer of 2023. In addition, the four-part prequel series The Witcher: Blood Origin will debut on Netflix on Dec. 25 and will feature Sophia Brown, Laurence O’Fuarain, and Michelle Yeoh. Henry Cavill’s stoic but charming portrayal of the white-haired witcher himself, Geralt, was praised by many when Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the Witcher books premiered in 2019. Since then, The Witcher has grown into a full-fledged Netflix franchise, spawning additional seasons, anime prequels, films, and even a kid-friendly spin-off.

However, the star of the first series won’t be staying close by as the fantasy establishment develops. In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, Cavill said, “My journey as Geralt of Rivia has been filled with both monsters and adventures, and alas, I will be laying down my medallion and my swords for Season 4.” He continued, expressing excitement for Hemsworth and appreciation for his role, “In my stead, the fantastic Mr Liam Hemsworth will be taking up the mantle of the White Wolf. As with the greatest of literary characters, I pass the torch with reverence for the time spent embodying Geralt and enthusiasm to see Liam’s take on this most fascinating and nuanced of men.”

For his part, Hemsworth said he is “over the moon” to be stepping in as Geralt of Rivia. “Henry Cavill has been an incredible Geralt, and I’m honored that he’s handing me the reins and allowing me to take up the White Wolf’s blades for the next chapter of his adventure.”

This shift in direction begs the question, were there other opportunities that arose for Cavill, or some bad blood left at the studio? The recent announcement that Cavill would reprise his role as Superman in the DC Extended Universe was also widely shared across the internet. The timing of the announcements raises the possibility that these two decisions were connected, but no one knows for sure. Fans eagerly await the summer 2023 release of the show to see if Hemsworth is capable of filling his predecessor’s role. To make sure you are all caught up, you can stream the first three seasons on Netflix—it’s worth it.