Words: Eva O’Beirne
“Sad Girl Trinity” is simply a state of mind.
There’s a certain trend that has appeared in Irish fiction in recent years.
A “Sad Girl Trinity” book has a number of characteristics, mainly being written by a woman who attended the Dublin college, but ultimately all of these novels communicate universal feelings that so many Irish people have experienced but haven’t seen put into words yet. From mental health issues to sexual relationships, you may know about Normal People, but are you aware of the other Trinity classics?
Don’t you worry if you haven’t, we’ve compiled our favourites for you to explore and perhaps read for yourself.
Notably dark, this book digs deep into an unnamed narrator’s internal monologue and struggle within herself and with a deeply toxic and obsessive relationship she has with a man who is absolutely horrid.
Exploring the lines of abuse and what it means to experience domestic violence, this book details that nothing is ever straightforward. This book is not for the unprepared due to its content but has been praised for how relatable it can be for those who have experienced toxic partners.
When “Sad Girl Trinity” meets the apocalyptic tone and denial of “Don’t Look Up”. This book does a great job of capturing the existentialism that occurs when you feel that everyone has their life worked out except you, as well as the conflicted feelings we all have in regards to global disasters.
This novel centres on how social media affects our perception of the everyday, and very much feels like a response to both the pandemic and the climate change crisis. How can we figure out our place in the world when it may not be here for much longer? Prasifka attempts to find out.
Although perhaps the most well-known and acclaimed, it can be argued that our perception of Normal People has been warped thanks to the Hulu series.
The book itself is good, a decent read but I feel Rooney’s other works are often overlooked due to this titan of pandemic pop culture.
I definitely recommend reading the book, even if you’ve watched the series, as you miss out on the real evolution of both Connell and Marianne as individuals.
The most recent release from Rooney, and ranked just above Normal People due to its dissection of what relationships can mean and symbolise in your life.
A complicated portrait of modern love and friendship, Beautiful World, Where Are You? echoes plenty of key elements of Rooney’s two other novels, but stands distinctly on its own as a more “grown-up” tale.
Focusing on the issue of moving out, growing up and being naive in a big city, Snowflake breaks away from the typical romanticisation of Trinity and focuses on how alienating college can be for so many Irish people. “You don’t have to be smart to get into Trinity. You just have to be stubborn” should honesty be on a t-shirt.
The main character of Debbie, who grew up milking cows in Kildare, is refreshing and arguably more “normal” than a lot of other characters on this list. Often hailed as a “culchie” novel, Snowflake is sweetly honest about what it means to be a young person in Dublin, and we love it.
Perhaps the book with the least mentions of Trinity College Dublin (is that what makes it so good? maybe?), Naoise Dolan transports you to the world of Ava, an unsettlingly neutral character navigating two uncomfortable relationships while living abroad.
With sharp insights into how selfish human beings can be in their everyday lives, this novel is a perfect casual read for anyone looking to break into the current Irish fiction scene.
Forget what you’ve heard about the Hulu series, I don’t want to hear it. Emails don’t necessarily translate to dialogue, and that’s okay.
Rooney’s first published book, and perhaps her most painful. Whenever someone says they didn’t like Normal People, I always ask them to give Conversations with Friends a chance.
Perhaps it’s the themes of forbidden love, or the perfect encapsulation of the distance that forms between children and parents once they enter their college years – I’m a sucker for this book.
Elsewhere on District: What the hell is going on with Dublin airport?