The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
Publisher: Faber Faber
Publication date: May 4, 2017
Genre: Bildungsroman, drama
An eighteen-year-old Irish girl arrives in London to study drama and falls violently in love with an older actor. While she is naive and thrilled by life in the big city, he is haunted by demons, and the clamorous relationship that ensues risks undoing them both. At once epic and exquisitely intimate, The Lesser Bohemians is a celebration of the dark and the light in love.
Eily, an eighteen-year-old drama student in 1990s London, is determined to lose her virginity as quickly as possible. Eily meets Stephen, a 39-year-old actor who is sensual, handsome and haunted by a dark past. The pair begin a string of casual sexual encounters, which quickly turn passionate and intense.
We follow the events of Eily as she grows from girlhood to adulthood by befriending Stephen, a man 20 years’ her senior. Stephen initiates Eily into sex with equal measure of humour and consideration. Though she is hungry for sex, drugs, drink, the stage, and all London has to offer, Eily may prove to be the only one who can approach Stephen’s past and save his future.
Eimear McBride’s debut novel A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing has won several awards, including the Goldsmiths Prize, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. The Lesser Bohemians takes a lot of elements that were present in McBride’s first novel, such as, stream of consciousness used as a means to capture the reader into the chaotic mind of the character.
McBride’s writing style challenges the norms of language: the broken sentences and unruly syntax complements the effective stream of consciousness, which makes The Lesser Bohemians a daring work of literature. However, I personally found McBride’s style of writing distracting:
“There’s no one suffered like the poor of east London, he says Do you hear me? Do you know that? Sure I’m not English. She is. What? Come on girls give us some change. Fuck right off, she says. Jesus chili sauce my friend. Queens and cockroaches. But you got your oats? Certainly cerealisation, I agree.”
I can appreciate the honesty of the plot and the creativity of McBride’s style but the fragments of the language were diverting; if you’re looking for an easy read, this is not it. I choose to give this book four stars and would recommend new adult readers to approach this book with patience, as the style is poetic and won’t appeal to everyone.