Young woman character- underachiever- no relationship- certain unhappiness in their life- forgetful family life- a plan to runaway-leading towards physological thriller … Well I am not talking about The Girl on the Train but Eileen had almost all the recipe of becoming a best selling page turner but instead it overdid the character development & gross narration of the protagonist which ended up it getting very mixed reviews. Most of the reviews that I read were negative but they didn’t influence me that much as I ended up enjoying the book.
Also in the Man Bookers’ 2016 series
But I know where the problem for the book was. It started on the monotone first person narration of Eileen who worked in the Juvenile prison as an assistant, lived in the house she shared with her alcohalic father. Based in 1960s in the un-named town in New England, the book agonizingly piles the details & miseries of Eileen, who is both depressed & lonely. The book was calling for more characters & change of pace but that didn’t happen until the half of the book was done. But what impressed me in this book was that when I thought there is no hope in this book & it will end as it was started, it did bring the big twist.
You can see some elements of the recent hits like Gone Girl & The Girl on the Train but the comparison ends there. Well, though both of the above mentioned books were written by very neat craft & excellent storytelling, the charm of Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen is that it does not try too hard to impress, it takes it’s time knowing nothing else is more important than the narrative itself. The voice of Eileen is so brutally honest that it makes you uncomfortable & unwelcome in her life. You try to distance yourself from her insecurities & shortcomings but she still is there, lusting over not so ideal prison guard & creepily planning her escape .
This book reminded me of Tracy Chapman’s song Fast car & I kept imagining Eileen singing the song
( See my old man’s got a problem, He lives with the bottle that’s the way it is- He says his body’s too old for working,His body’s too young to look like his)
When I saw a car on the cover, my imagination became more visual.
(Any place is better, Starting from zero got nothing to lose –Maybe we’ll make something,Me myself got nothing to prove)
I rated Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh 4 out of 5 stars on the goodreads- a good book with great material but let down by it’s pace.