Mostly I found this book terribly sad - the characters had so many missed opportunities and miscommunications which made their lives more difficult and lonely than they should have been.
Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. Marianne comes from a wealthy family, but is socially inept at school. Connell's mother works as a maid for Marianne's family, but he is outgoing and popular at school. As teenagers they become friends and eventually lovers, but they hide it from everyone. Connell is afraid he will be ostracized if the truth comes out so he even invites someone else to the school dance which causes a rift with Marianne.
Both Connell and Marianne move to Dublin for college and remain on again off again friends and lovers. Though they experiment with other partners they never really find happiness or the easy relationship they have with each other. But misunderstandings continue to tear them apart.
While I sympathized with both characters, I constantly felt like shaking them so they could just talk honestly with each other. However, I suspect in fact their inability to do so was quite realistic.
I recommend this book if you like studies in character and relationships - there is not really much action.