Eggshells

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Title: Eggshells

Writer: Caitriona Lally

Publishing House: HarperCollins UK

Date of Publication: September 20th 2018 (first published May 20th 2014)

Rating: 5 stars

‘’When they were deciding how to bury her, I said she had always wanted to be cremated. It was a lie the size of a graveyard, but I wanted to make sure she was well and truly dead.’’

Meet Vivian. A girl that talks to chairs, decides what to eat based on colour preferences, shares Christmas wishes in April, wants to have a friend exclusively named Penelope and to work as a professional bubble blower. In Dublin, a lovely, lively, quirky capital, anything is possible. However, our lovely heroine faces an extreme number of adversities in this unique urban fairytale. Plus, she is positively of the opinion that she is a changeling and the ways out to her world of tales and fairies seem to have closed permanently….

‘’I picture a band of Smurfs combing the city in the black of night with tins of blue paint, dubbing over the street letters that offend them.’’

Starting with a beautiful epigraph with the words of William Butler Yeats on the legend of the Changeling, we are taken to Dublin and the places that are filled with Irish enchantment and magic. At least, this is Vivian’s conviction as she is always on the search for magical lands, elves, and fairytale creatures. What she wouldn’t give to become a mermaid or a tiny elf herself….Eggshells is a tender story with references to James Joyce and the whole style of Lally’s writing can be characterized as a contemporary, melancholic, quirky version of the language of the great Irish writer.

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για dublin

‘’I can’t explain myself to people who peer out of windows and think they know the world.’’

Vivian would have loved to be invisible. The world cannot understand her, she wants to feel safe inside herself. Therefore, the need for lists, for words to rhyme together in harmony, for language to expand. She wants to fully express herself through a newly born language and traces her walks around the city a greaseproof paper, drawing shapes made off her steps. The only ones who can understand Vivian’s world are her niece and nephew, the children who always understand what the grown-ups don’t. Especially with parents like Vivian’s sister and her husband.

‘’I wake on a damp pillow; my dreams must have leaked.’’

The book is full of beautiful quotes, Lally uses poetic sentences to share the thoughts and portray our heroine’s experiences in a sensitive and confident style. However, underneath the fresh writing lies a deep sense of sadness, loneliness, and an acute feeling that society isolates everyone who doesn’t conform to the established ideas of social decorum. Through Vivian’s eyes, we see the life of a metropolis. Accurately portrayed, we experience the isolation of the citizens in the crowded, ever-buzzing streets. Each one of us is walking quickly, to work, to our house, to another obligation, drawn to our thoughts, excluded from the life around us.

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για dublin

‘’{..} cemetery sounds too clean and functional- I prefer the vague foggy sound of ‘’graveyard.’’

One of the most characteristic moments in the book is Vivian’s visit in Glasnevin Cemetery, the final resting place of Michael Collins, Maud Gonne and Brendan Behan among others. Described in a calm, melancholic tone through the voice of an outsider, we see a place of togetherness in death, underlying the loneliness of our sweet heroine. Those who love Dublin will find so many references that will transport you there. I can’t help but love the reference to Ivar the Boneless, one of the most well-known Viking leaders. Walk down the Ha’penny Bridge, read The Children of Lir, one of the most famous Irish legends that provided the inspiration for The Wild Swans by Hans Kristian Andersen. I went through so many emotional states while reading Eggshells, down to the atrociously irritating small-talk by every hairdresser in the world that always makes me think I’d actually prefer to visit the dentist….Discover beautiful quotes, like this:

‘’Which side of the river would you say is earth and which would you say is Hades?’’

 and this:

‘’Every dead person is ‘’Dearly Beloved’’ or ‘’Sadly Missed’’ but that can’t be true for all of them; death brings out the worst of lies.’’

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για Glasnevin Cemetery

Glasnevin Cemetery (Image: Colin Keegan)

If you’re looking for a ‘’story’’ in the traditional sense of the word, you’ll be disappointed. This is a beautiful attempt to enter the unique, difficult world of a wonderful person that views everything in a different, unique way. To understand that difference is beautiful, that caring and listening are more important than any dusty decorum imposed by an impersonal, distant, harsh society.

‘’I don’t know why people talk of the terror of being buried alive- surely the terror is in being alive.’’

Many thanks to HarperCollins UK and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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8 Comments

  1. What a lovely sounding book! So happy you liked it and loved your review!

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    1. Thank you so much, Marialyce!

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  2. A beautiful review Amalia, and this sounds like such a lovely book! The images you added are also gorgeous! 🙂

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    1. Thank you, sweetie!! Prague is one of my major travelling weaknesses…..

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      1. I’d love to go one day! 🙂

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      2. Hehe! I wrote about Prague in the wrong post but it’s okay! 😜😜 Dublin is also one of my favourite cities. I am heading to Berlin this summer, God willing. I am torn between Berlin and Munich but I think Berlin is currently winning.

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      3. Haha I didn’t realize either. 😀 I’d love to visit Dublin too, it’s such a gorgeous city! Oooh nice, but if you do end up visiting Munich – go to Hofbrauhaus! It’s the very best place to eat, drink beer and listen to some live Bavarian music. 🙂

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      4. Will do! I’ve been to Munich only once and there were so many things to see. I can’t wait to return soon!

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