Review of The Lesser Bohemians


The Lesser Bohemians

Eimear McBride


September 20, 2016

Blurb from Goodreads: The captivating new novel from Eimear McBride, critically acclaimed and Baileys Women’s Prize-winning author of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing.

Upon her arrival in London, an 18-year-old Irish girl begins anew as a drama student, with all the hopes of any young actress searching for the fame she’s always dreamed of. She struggles to fit in—she’s young and unexotic, a naive new girl—but soon she forges friendships and finds a place for herself in the big city.

Then she meets an attractive older man. He’s an established actor, 20 years older, and the inevitable clamorous relationship that ensues is one that will change her forever.

A redemptive, captivating story of passion and innocence set across the bedsits of mid-1990s London, McBride holds new love under her fierce gaze, giving us all a chance to remember what it’s like to fall hard for another.


Ah, where to begin?

Let’s be odd and start with the beginning. It takes several pages before you get into the rhythm of Eimear McBride’s use of  stream-of-consciousness, but once you do, it flows into your brain with little need to translate. There are staccato-type passages and passages that echo with true poetry.

That’s the first barrier to getting into The Lesser Bohemians. The next one would be the actions and the thoughts of the characters. Think: seedy, grim, desolate. There’s the need to hurt out of revenge or to hurt out of hurt, to inflict damage. There’s the seeming absolute worst things that you could inflict on another person. There’s darkness and despondency. There’s grimness and physical pain and ugly addictions.

But, there’s also hope and love and light. Nothing is easy, but sometimes you reap the rewards and find love and the hope of happiness. There are good people who will help you when you are at your lowest. There are those who are loyal to you, who will support you. There’s reaching out and caring, even if you think that in the morning, you will still leave and be cold.

These are the things that I take away from The Lesser Bohemians. It’s not an easy book to read due to its style and subject matter, but I think it was well worth the investment of time because it left me thinking and feeling.

I realize that this is not the normal type of review I usually provide you with, but this is my reaction to what I read.

For more concrete, let me say that Eilis, the 18-year old, and Stephen, the actor, are fully realized characters whose backgrounds you learn through monologues and dialogue. Stephen’s story is particularly dark, filled with addictions of all types, but now he is clean and living a compartmentalized life. Eilis obviously doesn’t have much history, but she has not been untouched. What seems like it should only be a one nighter becomes more, something powerful and unforgettable.

I received an ARC from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

rating: 5-butterflies 5 out of 5 butterflies



3 thoughts on “Review of The Lesser Bohemians

    1. I’m afraid I started it in December and just got swept up in other things. Like I said in my review, it’s not an easy book to read, but if you go into it knowing that and don’t allow yourself to be thwarted, I think you’ll like it (or at least see it’s merit).

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