Book Review: The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride

The Lesser Bohemians – Eimear McBride (McClelland & Stewart, 2016)

In the early pages of The Lesser Bohemians I came very close to giving up on this book. What’s wrong with the Irish? I thought, the stream of conscious writing reminding me Ulysses. Instead, I slowed my reading down until I was able to fall into the rhythm of our young narrator’s voice. She (unnamed for much of the novel) is a young woman, freshly arrived in London from Ireland in order to study acting. She meets an older, somewhat successful actor, and begins a tempestuous relationship with him. Along the way discovering both more about herself and about life in general.

In one respect, that’s all the novel is about and at a couple of points, I found myself wondering how much longer McBride could spin this out. Yet she keeps revealing a new twist, a new spin on the same story, as she unravels the stories of these two people.

The style of the book is very distinct and certainly not for everyone. As mentioned, I found it initially off-putting but I am glad I stuck with it. Before long I found it beautiful and descriptive and true to who our narrator was. Fair warning: There is a lot of sex in this book. I would say perhaps more than necessary but it also doesn’t feel gratuitous. Overall, I’m looking forward to reading another by McBride soon.

11 thoughts on “Book Review: The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride”

    1. Thanks! I find I either really admire stream of consciousness or it drives me crazy. It’s hard to do but I think McBride succeeds here. (And it works for the character, which is very important.)

  1. I keep hearing good things about this author, but unfortunately neither her plots nor reports of her style ever appeal to me. Glad you enjoyed it enough to want to try more though – maybe you’ll persuade me next time!

    1. To be honest, I don’t think this is your book. Don’t let me dissuade you but it doesn’t strike me as one you’d particularly enjoy.

  2. I read an older book by her, in fact, I believe I may have hosted an event that she attended in Calgary back in the day, I honestly can’t remember I have a terrible long-term memory. But, I do clearly remember her stream of consciousness writing, and not really enjoying it. It’s too much for this tiny brain of mine, I need things to be clearer!

    1. Was it a Girl is a Half-formed Thing? That’s the other one I have and will read (eventually). Stream of consciousness is so hard to do and sustain over a novel and make feel worthwhile but I think, overall, it worked for me here. But I can definitely see why and how it wouldn’t for many readers!

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