Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
Published by Vintage Digital
Published 3 March 2016 (first published August 18 2015)
Digital library book
NB: I’ve decided to read all of the books long-listed for the Man Booker this year. Other book blogs do this so it seems like a good idea.
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop. Trapped between caring for her alcoholic father and her job as a secretary at the boys’ prison, she tempers her dreary days with dreams of escaping to the big city. In the meantime, her nights and weekends are filled with shoplifting and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father’s messes.
When the beautiful, charismatic Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counsellor at the prison, Eileen is enchanted, unable to resist what appears to be a miraculously budding friendship. But soon, Eileen’s affection for Rebecca will pull her into a crime that far surpasses even her own wild imagination.
I LOOKED LIKE a girl you’d expect to see on a city bus, reading some clothbound book from the library.
WHAT I THOUGHT
I thought Eileen was great. Eileen is a wonderfully complex, disturbing character. She’s an awful person but sort of fascinating at the same time. The novel is written in the first person from her point of view. This is one of the book’s strengths. There’s nothing as unsettling and intriguing as being inside her unsettling mind as she dreams of escaping the dead end town where she lives, berates her alcoholic father for the messes she needs to clear up and fantasises about a co-worker called Randy. At times I felt a lot of pity for Eileen because she’s so isolated and unhappy. I wanted someone to be nice to her. I wanted her father to behave like a decent person for once. I wanted Randy to ask her out on a date. I fell hard for this novel when Rebecca enters the picture. This is when things really start to take off. Eileen shifts her fantasies about Randy to Rebecca. She fusses about what she wears and hopes Rebecca likes it. Is Eileen in love with her new friend or is it simply that someone has been nice to her for the first time in her life? You never directly find out but I personally believe Eileen fell in love with her. Why else did she get involved in Rebecca’s madness and the crime that eventually sends her on the run? Eileen is unsettling and mesmerising at times. A must read.