In a nutshell
This story, set in the 1970s, is mainly about the mysterious Lisbon girls (Cecelia, 13; Lux, 14; Bonnie, 15; Mary, 16; Therese, 17) who decided to take their own lives and how their suicides affected their small suburban community. Their story is narrated a year after their suicides, by the Lisbon-girls-obsessed guys who had nothing better to do than to ‘stalk’ and ‘spy’ on them (even after their death, “Collecting everything we could of theirs, the Lisbon girls wouldn’t leave our minds.”).
Cecelia committed suicide, and the rest followed a year after. Nobody knew exactly why; you’d read some analysis of what may have caused the suicides (p176 and in some other pages as well), but you’ll never get a definite answer, which to me, is exhilarating. (I’d like to think that it’s probably because of the strict and over-protective Catholic parents, and the fact that they don’t have a life besides the one at home.) I mean, the story seems to be leading you somewhere, but you end up being nowhere!
This story is dark, grim and depressing. To be honest, it felt kinda ‘hollow’. I felt I hardly knew any of the girls, besides the fact that they looked alike (“They were short, round-buttocked in denim, with roundish cheeks that recalled that same dorsal softness.”) and that they are in dire need to be in touch with the world. (read: a social life). Plot was flat (not sure if I used this adjective correctly here) and there were hardly any interesting characters. The only reason that kept me going, was Eugenides’ writing.
What I liked
You can’t deny the fact that Eugenides writes beautifully. These are some of my favourite passages:
“We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active and dreamy, and how you ended up knowing which colors went together. We knew that the girls were our twins, that we all existed in space like animals with identical skins, and that they knew everything about us though we couldn’t fathom them at all. We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them.
This was after all the girls have committed suicide, and they became the talk of the town.
“Knowing the rest of the city accepted the news as gospel only demoralized us further. Outsiders, in our opinion, had no right to refer to Cecelia as “the crazy one,” because they hadn’t earned their shorthand by a long distillation of firsthand knowledge. For the first time we symphatized with the President because we saw how wildly our sphere of influence was misrepresented by those in no position to know what was going on. Even our parents seemed to agree more an dmore with the television version of things, listening to the reporters’ inanities as though they could tell us the truth about our own lives.”
And…the ending…very, very sad…
“The essences of the suicides consisted not of sadness or mystery but simple selfishness. The girls took into their own hands decisions better left to God. They became too powerful to live among us, too self-centred, too visionary, too blind. What lingered after them was not life, which always overcomes natural death, but the most trivial list of mundane facts: a clock ticking on a wall, a room dim at noon, and the outrageousness of a human being thinking only of herself.” (It’s too long for me to type it all here…but the whole paragraph is beautiful…in a sad kinda way…)
What I might like better
The movie. Saw the trailer, loved the style. Might download it one day.
My verdict: 3/5
I hate to say this, but, (to all fans of Eugenides, please don’t kill me) I am utterly disappointed :(( (am probably one of the few who are!) I was really expecting a lot from Eugenides, especially after reading Middlesex (which I’ve read 2 1/2 times 😛 and I rarely read a book more than once!) READ Middlesex! PLEEEEEEEEEASE!!