The breathtaking new novel from Eimear McBride about an extraordinary, all-consuming love affair.
Eimear McBride's debut novel, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, was published in 2013 to an avalanche of praise: Nominated for a host of literary awards, winner of the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction and the inaugural Goldsmith's Prize, declared by Vanity Fair to be "one of the most groundbreaking pieces of literature to come from Ireland, or anywhere, in recent years", McBride's bold, wholly original prose immediately established her as a literary force. Now she brings her singular voice to an unlikely love story.
One night an 18-year-old Irish girl, recently arrived in London to attend drama school, meets an older man - a well-regarded actor in his own right. While she is naive and thrilled by life in the big city, he is haunted by more than a few demons, and the clamorous relationship that ensues risks undoing them both.
A captivating story of passion and innocence, joy and discovery, set against the vibrant atmosphere of 1990s London over the course of a single year, The Lesser Bohemians glows with the eddies and anxieties of growing up and the transformative intensity of a powerful new love.
"Eimear McBride was an actor before she was a writer. Her novels, especially as performed by her, are breathtakingly effective both as literature and as theater.... This is gorgeous, heartbreaking work." (AudioFile)
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Took a little while to get hooked
The language seemed pretentious at first and was distracting, but t hen there were beautiful passages and descriptions once I got used to it.
The author is gifted at making everyday life come alive and taking you to a very specific place and time.
There are revelations about the past lives of the characters which are painful but moving.
It fascinates me that this starts out very much a story of the first person female narrator who has a very moving story - yet the book ends up really being about the life of the man she is involved with. I would like to have heard more of the woman's story - however it is as if being in her mind with her she can't be self conscious enough to tell her story.
- Kim Deitch
Love and sex in London
Some sort-of spoilers below.
This audiobook is read by the author. It is like a mash-up of Shakespeare and Beckett, with language that is rhythmic, rhyming, and allusive. I just started so not far in, but the language is so beautiful, in the service of youth and art...
This book is largely about sex and love, and the ways they intersect or don't. It's also about the sexual initiation of a young woman, newly arrived in London to go to acting school. The author writes about sex explicitly and poetically throughout--this might not be to every reader's liking. These are not fade-to-black sexual scenes; but McBride's writing in this regard is bold and sensitive--not like anything I've read before. Still, from my vantage point, it sometimes seems like a distant land and I wanted to wring the necks of those youngsters, for their lack of perspective and undaunted pursuit of their desires. But then again I was one once.
The central love story is counterpointed by experiences in the main characters' childhoods of disturbed love from adults, as well as by the dogged and responsible love a father feels for his daughter. The relationships all echo and reflect, and there are dawning awarenesses from several characters. McBride writes her protagonist's inner voice in the allusive and fragmentary style I mentioned above. It is beautiful and I didn't get lost in it, mainly I think because of the author's beautiful reading (I think this is a great book to listen to). Later, when the main character's lover tells the story of his youth, she switches to a more straightforward narrative, which serves his revelations well and makes they all the more powerful because of the unornamented language. Further, the characters remain nameless throughout much of the book--and only the two main characters ever acquire names. When the first name slipped in, I had to rewind to be sure of what I'd heard. Finally, the protagonist names the second character is a direct address to him. This whole thing, the naming, was perhaps what I loved most about the book. It was so powerful, the names making them "be" in a new way that was touching and made the trajectory of their relationship all the more coherent.