The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride is a challenging read. Its structure is difficult to power through, almost entirely fragments/stream of consciousness, and forced me to re-read the majority of the book. It is a book filled with raw honesty about first-time love, but that seems to be the only true focus during the story. While I will not be going into any detail about these subjects during my review, TW: abuse, sexual assault, child abuse, self-harm, substance abuse—at times these things can be described quite vividly.
I have picked up this book multiple times since my sophomore year of college. I’d read a few pages then not pick it back up for a few weeks. After four years of trying to get through it, I finally sat down and did it.
But I have come into my kingdom where only pens and pencils were. Abrupt and all abrupt. No longer minnow in the darkness and the deep. Through the portholes and currents I’ve been. Going to the surface. Up into the sun. Touch my own throat. His long arm. Shining like a body come fresh into the light.
As mentioned, this story’s primary focus is on love. Eighteen-year-old Eily moved to London from Ireland to study theater. She spends her days cultivating her talent and her nights are as you’d expect for a young student. Eily explores London with a fervor with friends at pubs. One night she meets Stephen, a well known actor in the city. He’s twenty-one-years older than her.
They become a couple and learn how to navigate not only the age difference, but both of their dark pasts.
Where am I in the ranks or might belong? With the younger, yes. And if I’m the youngest? So? I’m not the glick-tongued university set. Nor those opting in as an out from office work. Not with the encyclopedic-knowledged of every ever staged show. Or the paying rent by modelling. Or the money’s all from home. No. I can’t align myself. Odd one out, but intentions the best and I don’t mind because Fuck Off fitting in – not that I’d refuse a spate of more usual fun.
This has been called an “unlikely love story” which is somewhat of an understatement. I suppose in some tragic sense, it seems appropriate that two such scarred individuals in a world of people would magically find each other, like magnets drawn to somewhat similar horror stories from their childhood. Eily’s is more “hinted” at, in smaller snippets, from an early age. Stephen’s is drawn out in horrific detail. Both repeatedly victims of the adults in their young lives.
Down down I down to the last flakes in. Dreaming for hours I think in my dream. Over over. Day white tongue teeth. Quickness and slowness. Stilts pander to streets and their up down their. I don’t know what I’ve yet. Wander where no notion wanders in amongst the dust of. Devil may Slip. Then wake up.
I wish this story would have focused on more than the complicated inner-workings of their relationship. In a short span of time, Eily’s whole life becomes an obsession of this guy. I wanted to see more of a character development for her. Overall, I did like this book. It was hard to read, but the way McBride wrote was so so good. It helped me to immerse myself into the character. I think McBride found a very unique way to tell a story and that is what I liked most about The Lesser Bohemians.