‘I will make myself of life here for life is this place and would be start of mine.’
The Lesser Bohemians is a novel achieving great notoriety in the book world at the moment. Published in September 2016 by Faber & Faber, Eimear McBride has written a novel, I feel, will appeal to a certain few.
Nominated in ‘The Easons Book Club Novel of the Year 2016’ category of the Bord Gais Energy Book Awards, which is taking place next week, I decided to pick up a copy and see why….
Read on for my thoughts…..
‘An eighteen-year-old Irish girl arrives in London to study drama and falls violently in love with an older actor.
This older man has a disturbing past that the young girl is unprepared for.
The young girl has a troubling past of her own.
This is her story and their story…
The Lesser Bohemians is about sexual passion. It is about innocence and the loss of it. At once epic and exquisitely intimate, it is a celebration of the dark and the light in love’
An unnamed young Irish girl arrives in London in the early 1990’s. Completely naive and totally inexperienced, she finds life difficult at the beginning. There is a frenetic quality off the writing in the opening pages that conveys this notion of panic. The stop/start of each phrase and sentence almost makes the reader feel anxious, as she takes us through the first days of drama college.
Eimear McBride has chosen to keep the name of the girl out of the story-line until much later in the book. This device increases the voyeuristic quality of the writing as you really feel you are watching something through a window, watching people you don’t know.
The girl has a chance meeting with an actor of some repute. They find a connection and what begins can only be described as a very destructive relationship. He is twenty years her senior and while still only thirty-eight, he has lived a hard life. His body and mind are ravaged by a past he cannot deal with. He has systematically abused his body in every way possible, yet he does not choose this life for himself.
This young girl and this older man become one. Their relationship is damaged from the get go. Both have a past that has affected them greatly yet neither has the where-with-all to accept and move on.
Can they make this journey out the other side together?
Can their passion become more…become true love?
Well, this you are going to have to find out yourself by reading The Lesser Bohemians.
The famous French Movie by Jean-Jacques Beineix, Betty Blue, is mentioned by Eimear McBride and to be honest this is exactly what The Lesser Bohemians reminds me of.
A movie from 1986, Betty Blue deals with the volatile relationship of thirty-four year old Zorg, an aspiring writer, and nineteen year old Betty, an incredibly impulsive and rash young woman. Their relationship is toxic but the passion, the sex, their every move is raw.
In The Lesser Bohemians, the two main characters have a very similar relationship. I have watched Betty Blue more than once and I absolutely adore the soundtrack. For me, The Lesser Bohemians would make for a wonderful movie that would transcend borders.
As a book, I found it hard going.
The prose was a style very unfamiliar to me and I found myself working hard to remain focused throughout. I read another reviewer commenting that they felt they weren’t ‘smart enough for this type of writing’….. I’m not so sure that is the case, but I do think The Lesser Bohemians, as a novel, will only appeal to a select group. The cover is stunning and the story-line is very appealing. It is the style of the writing that is difficult to follow…for me!!!
Achieving plenty of 5* reviews across the board, I think this is a divisive book that will raise an eyebrow here and there but will definitely be the cause of a many a heated conversation over many cups of coffee….
I look forward to what I hope will be the movie, but in the meantime I’ll let you decide for yourself…..
Please do let me know…
The Lesser Bohemians is available to purchase in all good bookshops or Here
About the Author:
Eimear McBride grew up in the west of Ireland and studied acting at Drama Centre London. Her debut novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing took nine years to publish and subsequently received the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize, The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for fiction, Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, the Desmond Elliot Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize.
Her short fiction has appeared in Dubliners 100. The Long Gaze Back and on Radio 4. She occasionally reviews for The Guardian, TLS, New Statesman and the New York Times Book Review.