This is a difficult novel to write about, because I’m not sure whether I love it or absolutely detest it. Either way, it makes for interesting conversation – or would do, if anyone I knew had read it! Have you read Eileen" It grabbed my attention because it was on the shortlist for the Man Booker prize (I often work my way through the shortlist when I’m stuck for reading material) but I’m just not sure what to make of it at all.
Here’s what the blurb says (taken from Amazon):
“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.”
It sounds thrilling and punchy, which is why I picked it out, but I just couldn’t get to grips with it at all – and, reading many online reviews, it seems I’m not alone. I think that the problem stems from the fact that the Eileen is totally unlikeable. Eileen is the sort of character for whom it’s difficult to dredge up any sympathy whatsoever – she seems to have drawn the short straw in life, stuck with a depressing, alcoholic father in a festering house filled with rotting food and decades of dirt, but still you can’t help blaming her for her hopeless situation. Because she’s crass – she’s so blunt that it makes you cringe. She overshares to the point that it’s almost physically uncomfortable, talking at length about her b...