The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
Eimear McBride seems to have “lost her nerve”, said Robert Douglas-Fairhurst in The Times. Her first book, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, was garlanded with awards and declared a work of genius. Her second seems to offer “more of the same”: the story of a young woman told in a stream of consciousness style. It follows 18-year-old Eily through her first year at drama school, where she begins an affair with a man more than twice her age. The familiar theme of child sexual abuse soon emerges, along with McBride’s signature “choppy syntax and imaginative leaps”. Yet halfway through, “abruptly and inexplicably, everything changes”.
The second half sees 70-odd pages devoted to the lover’s monologue on “abuse, addiction and betrayal”, said Max Liu in The Independent. He narrates “with a combination of melodrama and platitudes that makes him sound like he’s auditioning for a part in a soap opera”. Eventually, it returns to Eily’s perspective. “But it’s hard to exaggerate the capsizing effect that Stephen’s monologue has on the whole novel.” Yet if it is “less perfect” than her first novel, this is still an extraordinary book, said Lara Feigel in The Guardian. McBride “writes with beauty, wisdom and humour”. The Lesser Bohemians confirms her status “as one of our major novelists”.