Read eggshells by Caitriona Lally Online


Vivian doesn’t feel like she fits in – never has. She lives alone in a house in north Dublin that her great-aunt left to her. She has no friends, no job and few social skills. She knows she is different. Before they died, her parents used to tell her she was a 'changeling' who belonged to another world. Each day, she walks the streets of Dublin, looking for a way to get thVivian doesn’t feel like she fits in – never has. She lives alone in a house in north Dublin that her great-aunt left to her. She has no friends, no job and few social skills. She knows she is different. Before they died, her parents used to tell her she was a 'changeling' who belonged to another world. Each day, she walks the streets of Dublin, looking for a way to get there. ‘I need a big wind that could turn into a cyclone because today I'm going to visit Yellow Road and Emerald Street. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the cyclone carried Dorothy to Oz, and she followed the Yellowbrick Road to the Emerald Palace to find her way home.’ It doesn't work. After all, Dublin has a certain charm, but no actual magic. And so Vivian sets off on a new quest: to find a friend. A very specific kind of friend. ‘WANTED: Friend Called Penelope. Must Enjoy Talking Because I Don't Have Much to Say. Good Sense of Humour Not Required Because My Laugh Is A Work in Progress. Must Answer to Penelope: Pennies Need Not Apply.’ A Penelope replies, but will the two women become friends? Will she make a connection with another person in this world so she can stop searching for a portal to another one? She sets off for their first meeting. ‘I huddle and tighten myself against the wind and think up ways to describe it to Penelope. Is a “rape” of a wind too strong for the first sentence of a first meeting?’ Rooted in Dublin’s Northside, Eggshells is a whimsical, touching story about loneliness and friendship and hope....

Title : eggshells
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 25570810
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

eggshells Reviews

  • karen
    2019-04-07 01:35

    I used to bring home damp and gleaming shells, I used to think if I found the perfect shell I would find the shape of the world, but I was always disappointed. When I washed them later, their sea-gleam would trickle down the sink, leaving a dull sheen the colour of dry lament.this book is 100% character-driven, and how you respond to it as a reader will depend on how long you can appreciate/tolerate being immersed in this character's particular voice and perspective. vivian is a sweet oddball of a woman living in dublin whose idiosyncrasies make it difficult for her to connect with others. the book opens with vivian being given the ashes of her recently-deceased great-aunt, with whom she'd been living after her parents died. she tosses a handful of the cremains into envelopes addressed to her great-aunt's friends, and when she runs out of those, she chooses strangers from the phone book to be recipients of the rest. it's those kinds of actions that have always made her a bit different from those around her. she's tolerated, but pitied, dismissed as "poor vivian" or "away with the fairies."she tries to socialize and initiate conversations with other people, mimicking behaviors she observes, but more often than not she ends up frightening people with her intensity and oddness, and she's alone in the world, entrenched in her aunt's house, finding comfort in the smells of her unwashed body, the mouse-riddled clutter of her hoard room of treasures, living in her own fantasy world searching for thin spaces that lead to other worlds, overly concerned with the feelings of inanimate objects, tracing her daily routes onto paper into a shapes she can identify and name, and trying, unsuccessfully, to care for her pet yellowfish.she has family - an older sister who is also named vivian, but older-vivian has a husband and children she does not feel comfortable exposing to her sister's unpredictability, so vivian decides to make a friend. she advertises for this friend on trees across dublin, specifically for a friend named penelope, and she manages to connect with a penelope as odd and damaged as first, i was really charmed by her colorful, almost poetic observations and the unusual language she used to corral her experiences:-I wake early and it's cold, so I decide to keep my night clothes on under my day clothes like stealth pyjamas.and-Penelope laughs, the sort of laugh that makes me think of wolf cubs being reunited with their mothers: it's the tail end of despairing.but it's a relentless barrage of flaky fancy and it can be a bit overwhelming. one understands why people find talking to her so off-putting, even when i found myself agreeing with her musings:-We should be allowed to choose when to use lower and upper case letters; having to use a capital letter at the start of a sentence is like saying the firstborn son gets all the money, no matter how vile he is.and-…I change channels to a film. Two cars are racing through narrow streets lined with stalls. The cars plunge through the stalls, people scatter, tables of fruit and vegetables and meat and fish are knocked and sprawled and squashed and smashed. I want to see the film about the cleanup, the film about the people who are injured by the cars, the film about the people whose livelihoods have been ruined by a man in sunglasses who values his life above all else. I feel like I'm the only person rooting for the fruit seller instead of the hero..vivian's personality and "offness" is a combination of nature and nurture both. nature because, well - nature - i lack the clinical background to diagnose her - she seems to have bits and pieces of many disorders culminating in a general oddness, and nurture because her abusive parents told her from childhood that she was a changeling, causing her to spend her adult life trying to find the doorway back to her real world. i'm a fan of using supernatural or otherwise magical elements to explain real-world phenomena, and i thought this book was going to be about an actual changeling who doesn't fit into our world because she is not of our world and everyone just perceives and dismisses her as "crazy," but she's simply responding to things the rest of us can't see. but it's not that, and it's not even ambiguously, mayyyyybe that. vivian's is a charming madness, and as a reader, you root for her and feel sympathetic towards her in every one of her failed attempts to connect with a shopkeeper, bus driver, neighbor, but by the end of the book, after being just inundated by quirk and whimsy, you start to get a headache just trying to process it's funny, lyrical, always surprising, but when you take away the language, it's a bit insubstantial. and that's not a bad thing for many readers - appreciating a book for its language is just as meaningful a distinction as enjoying a book for plot or setting; language is one of nancy pearl's 'four doorways to reading' after all. but while i do like unexpected, lyrical language myself, i also need it to be wrapped around an engaging story, and this one feels like it drifts aimlessly and things will happen, but there's no real direction or closure to first, vivian reminded me a little of a Heather O'Neill character, in her memorable and unusual perspective, but she's a much more timid character than any of o'neill's, and because there was less actual story here, the voice became a bit too saccharine for my tastes. i still loved many of her lines:Penelope may look like an ice cream but she acts like a cone.and her discomfort with bath-taking made me laugh:…I can't relax when I smell like strawberry bubblegum and feel like dirty dishes.but this was a 'like, not love' book for me.

  • Beverly
    2019-04-23 22:29

    When I began this I got frustrated because I kept waiting for the story to begin, at about half way through I realized that being inside Vivian's head was the story. Vivian goes on walks everyday and records interesting words and eats strange combinations of food and doesn't bath and tries to interact with others. If my lists of what Vivian does every day annoy you try reading an entire book in this manner. Once I got past the midpoint, I did enjoy it more and laughed out loud at poor Vivian's conversational gambits. The word play is fun, but the lack of a story or plot of any kind, except some hints at childhood abuse, left me a bit cold on the novel.

  • Jay Green
    2019-04-17 03:30

    This is a stunningly brilliant book, written with insight, empathy, and a deft mastery of tone and language. I've read a lot of reviews that focus on the quirkiness and sweetness of Vivian, the protagonist, which is a testament to Lally's superb writing, because this book is, if anything, a penetrating, powerful and in-depth psychological profile of an abuse survivor and the techniques she uses to make sense of the world in order to cope with her mistreatment at her parents' hands. The abuse Vivian suffered is touched on only obliquely - moreover, when her friend "Penelope" reveals her motives for befriending Vivian and tells her own story, Vivian cannot bear to hear the details of Penelope's suffering and shuts her ears to it - but the implications are sufficient to hint at what is really going on: Vivian's construction of her personal history and identity as a changeling is the only way she can make sense of how her parents treated her, for what parents would do such things to their own child? The only possible explanation Vivian can find for their behavior is that she cannot have been their real child at all, but a changeling. Her tragedy, when we meet her in this book, is that she is isolated and alone; she is regarded as an outsider, as crazy, by the neighbors, because they do not know her story, they have not heard or listened to her story, a story that it is difficult for Vivian to tell, and indeed, which she does not tell here. In a nice touch of magical realism (in a book that, on the face of it, seems to be about magic), Lally cleverly contrasts Vivian's circumstances with that of her alter ego, her "sister," also named Vivian, but who in fact is what Vivian would have been had she not been a changeling, had she not been abused. This other Vivian is unreflective, conformist, stressed out, dull and unimaginative, and gives us pause to wonder whether the protagonist's quirkiness is something to be preferred, were it not for its origins. But Vivian's self-obsessiveness, her incapacity to get a life beyond the search for a way out of the world, is clearly not a happy place to be, and, for all the magic in her anomic fabrications, it is indicative of the destructive nature of abuse. I find this an extraordinary book, laced with compassion and understanding. It is all the more remarkable for being a debut novel. I really hope it finds a large audience and gets the kudos it deserves.

  • Ron
    2019-04-11 02:37

    If this book had not made me laugh (a lot actually), I probably would have quit. It’s a good example of learning to like a character while getting to know her; spending page after page following her around Dublin as she traverses a different part of the city, as she notes streets, missing words, making lists, or simply doing something cockamamie crazy (happens to be where many of those laughs came in to play). I think she may be the busiest character I’ve ever met in a book. And it’s not specifically expressed, but Vivian falls into a category on the autism spectrum. It’s the reason she lives alone, has no friends, why even her own sister barely visits her. Within the first dozen pages, Vivian mails a pinch of her Great-Aunt Maud’s fresh ashes to the 22 people in her aunt’s address book (plus 4 from the phone book cause 26 is a “symmetrical person-per-alphabet letter ratio), and pens a poster advertising for a friend named Penelope. Tiny warning: A Penelope does answer, and although it’s important, her part in the story is much smaller than I had anticipated.Besides the humor, there was something else that touched me. Near the end, a fact of Vivian’s childhood is revealed. I just about cried. If I didn’t like Vivian before that moment, I felt for her now. It was one of those moments in which years are revealed in a single sentence. You just have to fill in the blank. But she showed no emotion in that page, because it’s not who she is. Or maybe it’s that her emotions are expressed in a different way, unlike others. She is herself.------------------------------------------------------------------------------Pre-review 6/21Time to contemplate that review!

  • Betsy Robinson
    2019-04-08 00:20

    Vivian, whose sister is also named Vivian, was considered by her dead parents to be a changeling—a nonhuman from fairyland. She lives alone with no job and no friends in her dead great-aunt's house, where she tries not to hurt the feelings of all the inanimate objects in her life, and she seeks to mimic how "real humans" think and behave.A winner of the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2014, Eggshells is Vivian's story of trying to be normal, while searching desperately for an entrance to a place where she belongs. I have never been to Ireland, but Eggshells gave me the kind of tour of Dublin that only a down-and-out resident could give. Through Vivien's confused and twisted mind, I saw street signs with letters blocked out, alleyways, boardwalks, buildings that "look like they were dropped from a height and shoved together, with the Central Bank sticking up behind, like a Lego brick they forgot to paint." I walked the roads, crossed bridges, visited shops, seeing everything through Vivien's skewed mind. Her extreme mind might have become too much if not for the hilarious interchanges she has when she actually talks to other humans—which mostly she doesn't.The writing is so rich and idiosyncratic, I could probably quote something from each page. But here's an example from fairly early in the novel:Following one of her random obsessions, Vivian decides to purchase only blue food. A "heap of giddy rises in [her] throat" as she approaches the check-out cashier:'Do you notice anything about my items?' I ask.She looks like she doesn't want to play my game, so I make it easy for her.'They're all blue!''Oh yeah, why?''I'm having a blue party!'The snarl on her face melts a little.'Is it his favourite colour?' she asks'Whose favourite colour?'She looks confused.'Your little boy, are these not for is birthday party?'I think for a moment.'Yes, they are. And I'm making a Smurf cake!'The woman behind me in the queue pokes her head into the conversation.'Ah that's lovely, what age is he?''They're six. I have boy twins.'The words glide out of my mouth like a silk thread.'You must have your hands full with them,' the woman behind me says, but the shop assistant only stares.'How come you never have them in here with you?''Oh . . .'I think for a minute.'They're in wheelchairs.''Ah God, that's terrible, terrible!''Who minds them?' asks the shop assistant. Her face is squeezed into strange shapes.'What?''When you come in here to do your shopping, who minds them?''Oh, they're fine on their own.''You leave them alone?'Her voice sounds like a cup shattered on a tile. I look from one angry face to the other.'They can't get out of their wheelchairs, they're fine.'They look at each other the way that girls in school used to look at each other: an eye-lock that doesn't include me. Then they look at me with a purity of hate that stiffens me. I pack my blue items into my bag—I wish I'd remembered to bring a blue plastic bag—and pay. The woman behind me is muttering to the woman behind her, and I catch the words, 'social services . . . shouldn't be let have kids . . . something wrong with her.' I take my change and hurry off with great big gulps of marbles in my throat. When I reach the house I rush in, close the door and bolt it. If social services come, they might be angrier that I'm not neglecting children I don't have than if I was neglecting children I did have. I feel sadder than I've ever felt before, sad like the end of the world has come and gone without me. (42–43)Eventually Vivien manages to find a sympatico friend, after advertising for a friend named Penelope—because she wants to know why the name doesn't rhyme with antelope. Here is a description of Penelope's driving when the two women go on a car trip:Penelope sighs and swerves to avoid a cyclist, who roars something I can't hear. She drives like a Don't Drink and Drive ad, she drives with a rattle and a wallop and a clang and a bang. When she doesn't like the feel of a lane or the colour of a puddle or the shape of a pothole, she glides into the other lane. I've never seen cars driving straight at me before, the drivers' mouths forming into cartoon 'O's before beeping and swerving. (144)I loved Eggshells, a well-written, funny, and ultimately heartbreaking book about an extreme outsider, and I recommend it to anybody who feels or has felt like or is open to stories about people on the margins of society. Other InformationA good interview with author Caitriona Lally in The Irish Times about how she wrote the book while she was having trouble finding work.Some information about the Irish Writer Centre Novel Fair, an event to "introduce up-and-coming writers to top publishers and literary agents, giving novelists the opportunity to bypass the slush pile, pitch their ideas, and place their synopsis and sample chapters directly into the hands of publishers and agents." (And here's the main Irish Writers Centre website.)A very good Irish Times review says that Eggshells favors language over plot. Essentially I agree, however, I'd like to say that there are different ways to write plot, and Eggshells does have plot: It is the slow, light-handed, tender revelation of Vivian's background. This is done with such skill and love, with such compassion for the character, that some readers may miss it. But it is the way this information comes to the surface that makes this book become part of your heart.

  • Barbara
    2019-03-27 04:24

    Eggshells is the story of Vivian Lawler who lives in North Dublin. Her great aunt died and left Viv her house. Viv doesn't work, and it seems she lives on money her great aunt left. She is friendless, and her only family is her upwardly mobile sister, brother-in-law, and their two children. Viv occupies her herself walking all over Dublin in a manner not unsimilar to Leopold Bloom's perambulations. Everyday at the end of her ramblings Viv draws an outline of her walk and then decides what it looks like -a misshapen floor lamp missing the bulb, a staircase dangling from a fishing rod, a winter-bare tree knocked to its knees in a storm with a coffin and a flower dangling from its branches. Viv notices throughout the city many of the street signs have been vandalized with letters painted out. Devlin Terrace is IN TACE, Pembroke Street is _E_ broke Street, and Dominick Street, DOM. Viv loves words and especially loves palindromes which is why she must be referred to as Viv. She shares that the longest palindrome in everyday use is a Finnish word : saippuakivikauppias. She loves language and is constantly creating long lists of words in the manner of Joyce. However her words tend to all be in the same category such as old treasures in the National Museum: " Gold Dress Fastener, Torc, Borget, Ring-Money, Bulla, Lunula, Lock-Ring, Ear Spool, Sun Disc, Basket Earrings, Folded Rod, Armlet, Beads, Bracelet, Sunflower-Pin, Collar, Neck Ring, Sleeve Fastener, Nine Hollow Gold Balls'.Viv was labeled a "changeling" by her parents, and she is convinced that is why she is different. Her sister shows a lot of impatience with her. In shops she puzzles clerks with her odd responses to their questions. My favorite was the incident when she has a telemarketer on the line, and the man is so freaked out by her, he can't wait to hand up. Maybe I should try that.She has a fanciful view of life. One day she goes out looking for hobbits, which is fruitless and gets some people she follows very upset. I loved this example of her view of ordinary things : " I especially like the tub of baked beans, all orange and smug like best-bean friends. My biggest achievement so far has been adding the final piece to a baked bean jigsaw. It might still be in the hoardroom if the mice haven't mistaken it for a real plate of beans".Viv decides to advertise for a friend and she wants a friend names Penelope. She posts a sign on a tree and gets a message to meet with a time and place. Both women are eccentric and lack expected social skills, and they become friends. Each is willing to comply with strange requests from the other such as the day Viv asks Penelope to come to her house with a shovel and dig a big hole in the back yard. Penelope complies.Viv is one of the more unique characters one might meet in literature. Her stream of consciousness is entirely natural. She paints a picture of contemporary Dublin that is enchanting, yet true to life. I hope her adventures find a large audience. She deserves it.

  • Margaret Madden
    2019-04-21 04:30

    4.5 starsVivian is not great at social interaction. Actually, Vivian is extremely awkward in company and can go days without speaking to another human being. A grown-up orphan, she lives in an inherited house in Dublin's North inner city. She has sporadic contact with her sister, also called Vivian, and avoids her neighbours as much as possible. However, she would like to have friends, have a purpose to her days and someone to bounce her random thoughts off. Lemonfish, her decrepit goldfish, is not one for words, so she advertises for a friend. But Vivian, being the individual that she is, only wants a friend called Penelope. No nicknames, like Pen or Penny. She has her reasons, one being her love for certain words and their formations. When she receives a reply, Vivian embraces the idea of friendship, despite initial reservations, and travels outside her comfort zone. The reader is brought on a memorable journey, through the streets of Dublin, where Vivian looks upon the city from a unique angle. She sees places, landmarks and road signs unlike most of us. She sees colours where we may see grey, history in place names long ignored and symmetry that is taken for granted. But can one survive the streets of Dublin when unable to converse to an acceptable norm? Vivian walks the streets, to a certain pattern, determined to find answers within the city limits...Vivian may be the most endearing character I have encountered in modern Irish fiction. Like Jonesy, from Donal Ryan's The Thing About December, there is a raw, honest and innocent feel about her. Caitriona Lally shuns the label of 'mental illness' and shows how the most intelligent minds can often hide behind the facade of awkwardness and insecurity. Vivian's personal hygene, for example, is atrocious, as she doesn't see the need to conform to the 'norm'. She is afraid of her own reflection and sees no need to change her clothes on a regular basis. To her, food is fuel, money is for the bare basics and the real goal in life is to find harmony in words, on the streets, in history and in books. When she makes an effort to conform, albeit in her typical unusual way, there are hilarious consequences. A trip to the hairdressers in the City's largest department store actually made me laugh aloud, while her attempts to gain the friendship of a taxi driver had a mixture of humour and sadness blended together. Vivian's sister is riddled with sibling embarrassment and disdain, yet she is aware that she is tied to her namesake forever. Their interaction is uncomfortable from her perspective, yet her oblivious sister tries her best to blend into their family unit. Lally has created a character which will remain forever etched in my mind. Vivian is a woman who many would cross the road to avoid, yet could enrich the lives of others. Her idiosyncrasies may seem extreme and would make you wonder if such a character would survive without access to cash on a regular basis (not really touched on in the novel). But, this is fiction, and like The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simpsion, Eggshells is such a clever read, using the protagonist as a way of making the reader question the accepted 'norms' of our everyday lives. There is a also a touch of magic injected into Dublin's Northside, which is a welcome change to the more fiction-populated areas on the Southside. No need for leafy suburbs and canal walks, when Vivian shows the hidden gems on the other side of the Liffey. Some may say that not much happens in this debut novel. I would disagree. It is full of sincerity, spacial awareness, a reverse view of today's expectations and an massively memorable character. Highly recommended for lovers of Irish literary fiction...

  • Tony
    2019-04-17 01:25

    I feel like this might have made a good short story. The premise is interesting. Vivian is under the delusion that she's a changeling, a child of fairies who was swapped with a human child. She wanders the streets of Dublin searching for a portal back to the fairy world. And then she traces her route on a piece of paper and describes the shape she's made. "A pony with a corn cob pipe up its ass." (Ok, I made that one up.) She does this over and over and over again. She writes down whimsical names in her notebook over and over. Street names, birds, insects, biscuits. She interacts with people who don't understand her- again and again and again. "Are you taking the piss?!" It could be sad. It could be heartbreaking - if it weren't so annoying! I wanted to stop reading this after 50 pages or so. But I had to see if this could possibly continue for the whole book without any real action or character development. It did. I know this author is talented, and many people liked the book. I'll just have to file it under "just didn't get it."

  • John Braine
    2019-04-07 21:29

    I heard such great things about Eggshells and I really wanted to like it more and I should have loved it. It's the exact kind of book that I love; with quirky imaginative characters in their own little world, who make up their own superstitions. Two of my all time favourites are such books. The Wasp Factory & When God was a Rabbit.I was really enjoying it at the start, highlighting passages all over the place. But I increasingly had problems with it as I read on. I just found Vivian a bit inconsistent. I could appreciate that she wasn't put into a lazy box "on the spectrum", or some "ism", but something just didn't quite gel for me. She was really wise at times and quite ignorant with so many other things. "I feel like a mediocre still life hung next to a Caravaggio.""the word 'spiritual' makes my skin weep because it seems to say so much but really says so little." These are wise observations. And there were many more like it. Yet the same person thinks a goldfish will survive the night in a hole in the garden, and asks people if they are leprechauns. Obviously, the wise observations are from the author, not the character. To such a degree that it seemed very sloppy writing to me. Regardless of specifics, it just didn't gel for me. And it was lacking in substance, and plot. I thought there might be some interesting reveal at some stage there was nothing. I'm not who enjoys books that rely on big reveals, or have to tie up all the loose ends. But there was just no story here at all. The very same daily events I enjoyed at the start of the book had completely lost their charm by the end when they became repetitive, and nothing of substance happened. Oh and - I don't mean to rant - but I just remembered the sister. I find this kind of character so cliched in books. I rolled my eyes when the sister with the lovely modern house, a husband, 2.4 kids and a career is an absolute cow, with no imagination, sympathy for her sister, or any redeeming features. What assholes people with modern kitchens always are. And people who live in ramshackle homes, such angels of society. Despite the many issues I had with it, I quite enjoyed it until it started to get repetitive. I just thought it had so much more potential to be as amazing as many people told me it was.

  • Meg - A Bookish Affair
    2019-03-31 23:44

    In "Eggshells," Vivian doesn't fit in and never has. In fact, her parents told her that she was a changeling and the reader is left questioning whether or not this really might be the case. Vivian spends her life doing things that seem odd to others. She tries to model behavior that would be considered normal but fails every time. She is lonely and decides to advertise for a friend and not just a friend but a friend specifically named Penelope. She feels that this will be the first step to creating a new life for herself. This book is very much a character driven novel. We get to see the world from Vivian's perspective. It's a world where normal interaction with others must be thoroughly practiced and where Vivian often has to remind herself of what a normal way to behave would be. Much goes unnoticed by her; she can't understand why her sister may not want her just showing up on her doorstep without announcement. At first, Vivian's character felt very fresh for me. Her point of view is definitely different and I love an eccentric character. I did get a bit distracted in trying to figure out exactly what was going on with her, which took away from the book even though this is indeed a character driven story.Sometimes there is too much of a good thing and that became the case with Vivian's character. There doesn't seem to be a true arc other than Vivian behaving the way that Vivian does and trying to overcome the same feeling that all humans, even those that are less eccentric, try to counter: the feeling of loneliness.

  • Liz Maguire
    2019-04-01 00:40

    Caitriona Lally’s Eggshells is a poetic lyric to Dublin. Meet Vivian, the most impressionable protagonist to hit shelves this year. When we meet her she’s living in the home of her deceased great aunt, a collector—borderline hoarder—of every type of chair. She’s the kind of woman who leaves five euro notes in the pockets of cardigans in shops, squeezes the cream from her cakes into her coffee and believes in the magic of words to take her away. Vivian, who lives convinced that she’s a “changeling” child now middle-aged, craves being somewhere over the rainbow. Now take everything you think a book about life in Dublin should include. Have you got it? Now, close your eyes and shake your head… you might be surprised but delighted to see you’re holding a copy of Eggshells, Lally’s debut novel out from Liberties Press this year. Lally takes the reader on perhaps the greatest trip around Ireland’s capital city since Ulysses, nailing those particularly overwhelming lovely or lonely feelings of life in the center of everything. It’s clear to see why Lally was selected as one of the twelve finalists in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair in 2014: she’s got the mysterious, sought after “it”.Peeling back layer-by-layer, Lally exposes that there’s a little of us all in Vivian. At first you might resist the comparison but in the end it’s a sweeping victory for Lally in reminding her reader that not everyone is put together the same way. In her prose, Lally shows her reader that there’s nothing as dangerous as losing your imagination in as magical a place as Dublin. By revealing pieces of Vivian’s background slowly, like the wet plops of sand on a beach drip sandcastle, Lally builds her story. Only in finishing the novel full of Vivian’s half baked yet earnest plans and schemes to return to her native land, are Lally’s clearly developed and well excuted motives revealed. Consider it a promise that you’ll want to meet Lally’s creation of Vivian in her urban fairytale. Find your copy of Eggshells today where all good books are sold.

  • SueEllen
    2019-03-25 03:31

    I read for enjoyment. This book gave me a headache. About half way through I started skimming ahead, looking for a miracle, and to be honest, praying the goldfish didn't die. The main character needs therapy and meds. I need a Tylenol.

  • DJ Sakata
    2019-04-16 22:44

    My Rating:4.5Favorite Quotes:My glance keeps returning to the urn; I’m expecting the lid to open and the burnt eye of my great-aunt to peek out. When they were deciding how to bury her, I said she had always wanted to be cremated. It was a lie the size of a graveyard, but I wanted to make sure she was well and truly dead.Some of the white letters on the street signs have been coloured blue to match the blue background… I picture a band of Smurfs combing the city in the black of night with tins of blue paint, daubing over the street letters that offend them. For the higher-up signs they step on each other’s shoulders to form a pyramid, placing the most agile Smurf with the best blue head for heights at the top. Her clothes are red and yellow and screaming. This must be Penelope; only people with three Es in their names would dress so loud. I wave. She smiles, the kind of smile that could reheat cold coffee, with yellow gappy teeth in need of a power hose.I will eat only blue food for the rest of the day… It seems right that on the day of my blue feast I’m feeling blue myself. My belly feels bruised inside, as if all the blue foods were having a fistfight among themselves.I would like to get things done and ticked off lists; some of my projects are endlessly roaming like lemmings without a leader.Do uppercase letters feel superior to lowercase letters? Which would come off best in a game of thumb wrestling? The uppercase letters have pointed edges and size on their side, but their lowercase rivals are bendy with attitude.I try to think of what is said at burials on television, and I say in my most solemn voice: ‘Scales to ashes, fins to dust… Your death is untimely, it’s so unjust.’ My Review:Written from a first person POV, Eggshells was a smartly written and extremely amusing stream of consciousness narrative of a mentally disordered woman with a creative and childlike imagination, which had me frequently giggle-snorting and barking aloud in mirth. Ms. Lally has mad skills and her strong word voodoo conjured crisp and cleverly ridiculous and animated visuals. Vivian liked words, but didn’t enjoy using them aloud. She collected them in lists and had filled notebooks with them, but when forced to interact in the real word, she seemed to have a finite supply of verbal expression at her disposal. But she was apparently making an effort and claimed to be working on using sentences and some arm gestures she had learned from watching soap operas. Smirk. Vivian’s history and family tree seemed rather bizarre and of questionable mental stability as well with oddities that were far beyond mere eccentricity. We aren’t given much information about that, just enough flavor to tease and tantalize. But unlike her harsher relatives, Vivian was a gentle soul, and I adored her. She was a fascinating character with extremely limited personal hygiene (she enjoyed her strong funk), dubious parentage, and an obvious mental disorder. She was hands down, one of the most intriguing and odd main characters - ever. She was in dire need of psychotropic medication and the monitoring of a mental health professional as she spent a considerable amount of time engaging in magical thinking. She also exhibited many OCD characteristics with a hoarding room, fixation on symmetry and even numbers, and completing tasks or behaviors in threes and sevens – for their “transformative powers.” She kept lists of words she liked and invented some to take the place of words she didn’t. I relished her word fixation, as I’m prone to that bit of oddity myself. She also searched each wardrobe for the passageway to Narnia and roamed Dublin on foot, bus, and taxi looking for hobbits, fairies, and portals to other dimensions. Vivian was obviously highly intelligent and had a childlike imagination. One of my favorites of her odd thoughts was when she had placed several objects in her pocket and worried they may have “an inter-substance squabble.” Ingenious!

  • Naberius
    2019-04-02 03:30

    Vivian doesn't feel like she fits in - and never has. Apparently, she was odd enough as a child that her parents told her she was "left by fairies," and now, living alone in Dublin, people tend to treat her like she's crazy. Friendless, she puts up an ad for a friend, specifically a friend named Penelope. In the meantime, Vivian wanders the city, mapping out a new area or neighborhood every day, seeking an escape to a better world, where there are fairies and where she will fit in. When a woman named Penelope answers her ad, Vivian's life starts to change. "Debut author Caitriona Lally offers readers an exhilaratingly fresh take on the Irish love for lyricism, humor, and inventive wordplay in a book that is, in itself, deeply charming, and deeply moving." This bit is from Goodreads.This is the strangest book I have ever read. Considering how many books I have read, that's saying something. It's not that I didn't like the book; in fact, I found myself laughing out a loud a few times. However, there are parts of this story that are a little disturbing. That bit about how Vivian's parents told her she was left by fairies? That means they thought she was a changeling, and if you know anything about changelings, you know that humans think they are dangerous. Vivian reveals something late in the story that ties directly into this. However, there is a hint early on: "I unfold the map. spread it on a patch of carpet and write in my notebook the names of places that contain fairytales and magic and portals to another world, a world my parents believed I came from and tried to send me back to, a world they never found but I will." (p 6)Reading this book is like reading a book written by Delirium, the Dream King's sister. If you don't know who I'm talking about, try this: you know how, when you were a child, you'd spin around and around, making yourself dizzy, and then stop suddenly and feel that the world was tilting and spinning around you? That's what this book is like.The narrative of this book wanders from one thing to the next, all with bits of connectivity to Vivian's desire to find herself entry into another world. She is constantly on the lookout for doors to another place, or evidence of fairies. Things make total sense to her, although to the people around her, she's a bit odd. Actually, I revise that; she is odd and disturbing. When Vivian speaks to other people, she has a tendency to ask questions that other people find strange, and as a result, people keep her at arms-length. However, at the same time, I found her character to be kind of charming. I like how she makes lists of things she likes, or words she likes. She has an unusual way of using language, and sometimes makes up words to suit her, or the situation.Here's an example: "I continue with my list: 'Donkey's Tufty Heads, Marshmallowed Silences, Butter Lumps, Elephants, Sooz in Winter, Pencils that Write Sootily, The NAme ALoysius, Anything Egg-Shaped, Mothes that Think They Are Butterflies....' " (p 20)"I don't mind mice walking around my house - or maybe they think it's their house but I don't want to catch potential bubonic plague and have my own private Black Death." (p 78)I was frustrated by the ending of this book because I felt like I had been on a long, dizzying ride, and then finished, looked around me, and realized I hadn't gone anywhere at all. However, I can't get this story out of my head, so perhaps it's the journey that's important, and not where you end up.

  • Tbr
    2019-04-03 23:18

    This is a snapshot of one woman’s life. We don’t know how old Vivian is, exactly how she got to the point where we meet her, or where it is she is heading. It is written in first person present and is essentially a stream of consciousness. There is no plot as such. From her thoughts and her interactions with others we get a glimpse of her past but are never given the actual facts. And the book ends very abruptly, so much so that I thought I had some missing. But we had to leave her sometime and there was never going to be a resolution to the story. Does any of this matter? Not one jot. Normally I don’t do well with loose endings and get frustrated at not understanding the whys and wherefores of a story. With Eggshells, though, it adds to the intrigue and fits perfectly with the narrative.We do know that Vivian has a sister, also called Vivian, and that her parents and her aunt are dead, and we get tiny hints as to how her relationships with her family were/are conducted. We know that our Vivian believes she is a changeling and she spends much of her time looking for the way back to the “other world”. The story is set in Dublin, and if you know the city that will undoubtedly be an added dimension for your reading, but it doesn’t matter at all if you don’t know it.And what happens in this story? Well, very little and yet so much. Vivian is a wonderful character. This is a fabulous book. The writing is superb – it remains in character throughout. From the first sentence I had a “voice” for Vivian that didn’t falter once. I could see through her eyes and suffer her indecisiveness and awkwardness with people. I dodged her neighbours with her and, although I don’t know Dublin very well, I walked the streets with her. My heart broke for her.Vivian is clearly intelligent but she is definitely wired up differently from most people. She is vulnerable and lonely. She does some “odd” things, yet usually with a view to making others’ lives a little brighter. She writes endless lists, and draws patterns of the routes she walks. She advertises and finds a friend – Penelope – yet doesn’t know how to act with one, so maybe she’s not had a friend before. She plans what she will talk about with people because conversation doesn’t flow naturally with her. She treats it as an achievement when she manages to answer someone’s comment about the weather.I loved this book – its humour and quirkiness and pathos and the way it carried me along. It is right at the top of the pile in my favourite books this year.

  • Suze Lavender
    2019-04-10 02:21

    Vivian isn't like most other people. She's living in a world where fairytales are part of reality, where personal hygiene isn't the most important thing in the world and where she's perfectly happy with her own company. She tries to be more social though. She's inherited her great-aunt's house and after her death Vivian needs to find a new balance, to make an every day life for herself that she enjoys. She reaches out to her sister, she tries to find a friend, but only one who's called Penelope, and she walks. She takes a different route every day and walks through Dublin. She thinks she's a Changeling and hopes she will be able to find a way back to the world she's originally from...Vivian is unusual and I love the way Caitriona Lally has portrayed her. She might be odd, but she's also lovely. She has a special mind which works a little differently and I loved reading about her world and the way she sees life. Vivian does find her friend. Penelope is sometimes too much for Vivian, but as they are friends they keep seeing each other and they have a couple of adventures together as well. One is a visit to Penelope's mother that doesn't go according to plan at all. I read this book with a smile on my face. The story is beautiful, Vivian is such an interesting main character. I enjoyed reading about her walks and about the things she's hoping to see mixed with what she actually sees. I liked reading about the way Vivian's mind works a lot. The sometimes simple and sometimes more complicated way she sees things is fantastic. I was so engrossed in the story that it almost felt like I was her every now and then. I think Caitriona Lally has an amazing talent. She can write about a topic that makes people think about so many different things in an enjoyable way. I love her wit and cleverness. I noticed things I wouldn't normally pay attention to because of the way Vivian sees the world. Eggshells is special. I loved all the little details that for me made Vivian's world come to life even more. Details like her sickly goldfish which she therefore calls Lemonfish, the way she washes herself, the description of the scents that are important to her, the way she makes herself feel comfortable, the fact that she has a sister who's also called Vivian and so many other things which in my opinion are making the story great. Eggshells is a real treasure, it's a book I want to hug.

  • DubhLinn
    2019-03-24 02:22

    I just finished this book and I thought it was fantastic. As a regular walker in Dublin you can feel the streets come to life through the pages. Eggshells is a love story but one with a difference. The love in Eggshells is the author's love of Dublin and the main character's quest for the love of friendship. It is both hilarious and poignant. Lally is yet another new voice in Irish fiction. If you're from Dublin, have ever visited Dublin, or ever want to visit Dublin then this is a book for you!Eggshells got a great review in The Irish Times too -

  • Rebecca
    2019-03-24 22:41

    Lass thinks herself a changeling and hunts for doorways to never been worlds. *relates* Romanticised social ostracism.

  • Jeaneen Gauthier
    2019-04-21 03:17

    I enjoyed this book. It's about a woman who is either autistic, or some sort of changeling. The language and humor are excellent. The only disappointment was the plot doesn't quite thicken; questions that come up in the story don't really get answered. I would love it if the author wrote more stories with this character!

  • Sarah
    2019-04-03 04:18

    Uggghhhh.Needlessly quirky, twee, whimsical shit that quickly became annoying (inner eye rolls galore) and repetitive, episodic chapters so you never felt there was a point to any of it.Just no.

  • Faith Hogan
    2019-04-21 21:17

    OMG where to start! this is a book I've raved about since I read it. It is at times sad and funny, but mostly its very clever, witty and so well-written. The only thing that I'd say is, please write another one and quickly!!!

  • Clodagh O'brien
    2019-04-10 23:42

    A memorable character in Vivian, this book has laugh out loud comedic moments and great writing.

  • Becky
    2019-04-22 01:44

    When Vivian was little, her parents said they thought she was a changeling. Not only that, but they told her they tried to get their real daughter back. Out of work for six months, Vivian wanders the streets of Dublin. It's not random, it's planned and she maps her travels. She also visits site and museums, listing butterflies, treasures she discovers on the beach, and other things she sees in her wanderings. Of special interest, signs with missing letters. Then one day Vivian decides she'd like to make a friend. Not just any friend - a friend named Penelope. So she makes an advert. Lo and behold, a Penelope answers!Eggshells is a bit of an odd read. Catriona Lally has a very different and distinct style and voice, creating in Vivian a whimsical character who most definitely lives outside the bounds of what one would consider normal. Vivian's travels and interactions with others only cement this further. At one point, a man on a bus asks her for money and she hands him lemons. Her logic, the lemons are worth so much and so he only needs to seek out the difference. Needless to say, her lemons are not accepted with gratitude. In another scene, Vivian has decided to have a blue day and heads to the store to buy appropriate materials. The clerk mistakenly believes it's for a child's birthday and Vivian does nothing to dissuade this idea, instead informing the clerk that yes, she's planning a party for her six year old sons. Who are at home alone. But it's ok because they can't get out of their wheelchairs. This is a telling scene for a few reasons. First, Vivian definitely doesn't think about the repercussions in taking this farce as far as she does while she's doing it. But she does quickly realize her mistake. So we know that she knows, for example, that leaving six year old wheelchair bound children at home alone is not acceptable. She even goes so far as to wear a disguise later, in case anyone from the store who over heard is nearby. There's never an explanation about Vivian. Is she simply given to flights of fancy and happy as such. Or is there an actual reason for the way she is. We don't know. There were a few instances where it seemed she might be OCD, mentally repeating "safe" when going to a new shop, for example. But other than those hints, the reader is left to wonder.I have mentioned before that I lean more towards plot driven rather than character driven novels. A book like Eggshells is the exception. While it is a strange read, following Vivian around on her day to day explorations and such, she is the kind of character who drives a story through her oddness. And so I was curious to see where Vivian would take me next and stuck with her. In the end I did, however, wish for more plot, more actual happenings, and even more on Vivian's life before the book began.

  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    2019-04-18 03:22

    I like quirky characters, but the MC here goes way beyond quirky. She believes (and her parents believed) that she is a changeling. The book documents her various attempts to return to Faerie. She roams town testing various myths and baffling everyone she meets. The writing style and narration were great, but the story is a bit meandering and pointless. The MC is a sympathetic character, but I was left wondering if she was mentally ill/disabled.

  • Megan
    2019-04-02 00:19

    When I wake the next morning, my dream is so close, I can smell the overripe fruit at the edge of it. It's a recurring dream about a bowl of fruit that's on the verge of rotting. When the bowl appears, I realise I ignored it for weeks and now it's too late. There's no story in this dream, just a thick dark sense that I've wasted things, and this sense lingers in my stomach when I wake, like a kick wrapped in spinach.Vivian, whose parents thought she was a changeling, now spends her her days as an adult traveling through Dublin in search of where she belongs: "My legs are too excited to sit down and the day hasn't yet been emptied of light, so I decide to visit my thin places--places in which non-humans might live, potential gateways to the world I came from. My parents used force to try and shunt me back to this Otherworld; I will use willing."Lally's prose and character work are top-notch: so many amazing turns of phrase, so much subtle sadness and disconnect and fear in how Vivian interacts with this world. I'm sure the word "quirky" has been used to describe Vivian or this book's tone, but I didn't find it some cute, fetishized whimsy; the book's darkness was stark because Vivian's understanding of it seemed so ambiguous, and I spent so much of the book anxious for her and heartbroken by her lonesome attempts at understanding the world. The maps she makes bring her no closer to knowing where she is or how to get where she needs to go. I loved the ending, loved the understated swell of Vivian's character arc.

  • Linda Quinn
    2019-04-05 02:21

    Whimsical and different, with enough humor to keep me reading. Vivian is manic and searching for where she belongs in this world. In the end, how can you help but love someone who checks every wardrobe for Narnia and every yellow road for an Emerald City at the end? This was a moving book that explores the outcasts and the different among us who are only looking for where they fit in and hoping for a friend.

  • Booknblues
    2019-04-18 23:34

    I want to introduce you to Vivian or Viv, because she loves palindromes. She is the protagonist of Caitriona Lally's debut novel Eggshells and she is a hoot, but her parent's thought she was a changeling. Because they thought she was a changeling and wouldn't be sticking around too long they named her younger sister Vivian as well.Viv has inherited her great aunt's house and is concerned about making it her own:I walk back to my great-aunt’s house, which I have to start calling home. When I enter the house I catch the beginning of my smell, an earthy tang that I plan to grow into. There won’t be many visitors to dilute my smell. My sister called over in January but she didn’t stay long—I think I was her New Year’s resolution. She bothers me to clean the house and get rid of chairs and find a job. Her world is full of children and doings and action verbs, but I’m uncomfortable with verbs; they expect too much.Lally tells Viv's story in first person stream of consciousness and we learn what Viv does on a daily basis. She takes a daily walk which she later plots out. Her walk usually has a plan, often with the intent of finding her way back to where she should be as she is a changeling. One day she heads down Lemon Street with the idea of giving it true meaning:I walk through to Lemon Street, check that there’s no one behind me, and drop a piece of fruit every couple of steps. When my bag is empty, I look back. The street looks like it has been lemon-bombed.Viv is well intentioned but she is often the person which others look away from and avoid contact with at all costs. She has trouble with too many words and just turns off after a certain number. She is also the person who might say or do anything and there are many laugh out loud moments.What there isn't is plot. I love a book with a story and I am a proponent of the story is all, but in Lally's book we follow Viv day after day waiting for explanation or something to the end we were given explanation, but was it enough.I look forward to reading more from Lally because I really enjoyed Viv, and I hope others will give it a try, but I found it trying.

  • Cindy Roesel
    2019-03-26 01:40

    EGGSHELLS (Melville Press), by Irish author, Caitriona Lally, is story about being square in a round world told in a uniquely whimsical manner, which I hope everyone gets the opportunity to read. I'm announcing to all readers of this post that it's my first pick for "Best Books of 2017!" It tackles loneliness, friendship and even hope in ways that had me laughing and nearly crying at the same time.Vivian has never felt as if she belonged. And no wonder. Her parents told her at a young age that she was so odd and different, that she had to have been "left by fairies." Now an adult, the neighbors think she's crazy, her sister wants nothing to do with her and social workers have written her off as a nuisance.She believes she's a changeling so she roams the streets of Dublin, Ireland in search of the portal that will allow her into a place where she fits in. She's obsessed with signs and words and keeps meticulous lists and hand drawn maps, as she wanders the streets. She decides to change her life and find a friend, a friend specially named Penelope. So she posts an advertisement on a tree. Soon a person shows up well-matched in strangeness, a friendship begins and Vivian's life changes. (Shocker: Her new friend's name turns out not to be Penelope.)EGGSHELLS is distinctly Irish. Author, Caitriona Lally, borrows from Irish tradition and folklore and it recalls James Joyce's, DUBLINERS in the way Vivian travels around Dublin, both passive (on the bus) and active (on foot). EGGSHELLS is Lally's debut novel and I can't wait to read what she writes next.FYI: I love, love, love the cover!

  • Andrea Proser
    2019-03-31 05:26

    Such delicious language, wordplay and description! This is an interesting book - much like "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night," it humorously and respectfully showcases a very different way of thinking. Ideally, readers are forced to question their own judgments and assumptions in dealing with Vivian-like people.To that point, I often found myself picturing how Vivian's actions and quirks looked from the outside. As an autism mom, much of it felt familiar (with a little Amelia Bedelia thrown in). And while "odd" behaviors and routines don't necessarily stem from identical needs and preferences, Vivian's explanations and thought processes seem completely in line with the spectrum-y kids I know, as best I can tell. It's heart-breaking to witness the extraordinary efforts Vivian takes to fit in and the lack of acknowledgement/appreciation from others of this effort. Still, Vivian isn't necessarily sad, yet it's hard not to feel sad for her. How is this right? Why are we so inclined to impose our own assumptions and feelings on others?So I love the big questions and humanity lessons conjured by the book (but only in my brain - the book's messages are perfectly subtle), and I doubly love the delightful dissection of language (like "I'm uncomfortable with verbs; they expect too much"). Every page is a treasure.

  • Sharon
    2019-04-11 21:37 in contemporary Dublin, Catriona Lally's debut novel, Eggshells is a peculiar tale about a dysfunctional, socially phobic woman who believes herself to be a changeling switched at birth for a human baby. Vivian is determined to track down the faerie portal and return from whence she came. It is also a story about an odd companionship, struck up at Vivian's instigation, of two women who find it painfully difficult to interact, and fit in with society.Oddness runs throughout in this, pretty much, plotless tale where nothing of substance actually happens. Vivian makes lists of words she likes the sound of, and when she wants a friend writes, 'I want a friend called Penelope. When I know her well enough, I’ll ask her why she doesn’t rhyme with antelope. I would also like a friend called Amber, but only if she was riddled with jaundice.' She places numerous posters on trees to facilitate in her attempt to find a Penelope 'friend'. Penelope who isn't really Penelope but is equally as strange as Vivian, responds to her advertisement.What started out as a promising story about an innocent whimsical character unfortunately ended up irritating me. I found the never ending witticisms and bizarre scenarios trite, and because of her aversion to her own personal hygiene, hard to stomach the thought of Vivian when she...'savours her meaty smell'...ewwww. Vivian has an older sister also called Vivian...why? I didn't get to find out. Anyway, it was just too much to find a smelly, disfunctional, grey haired woman endearing or charming in the long run.However, Eggshells did have me questioning my thoughts about the main characters' fragility and unusual behaviour, and pondering what mental condition Vivian could possibly be suffering from, and that's a good thing right? Cos why should it matter what her problem is...maybe it's just her personality and nothing's actually wrong with her...well except that she's had little to no social interaction during her formative years, and told throughout her childhood that she doesn't belong here but in another realm. Ultimately, I realised that the 'cause' or 'fix' is not so important, maybe more tolerance and understanding of those who behave oddly or differently to the 'social norm' is what's more important. So, it had a profound effect on me which made Eggshells a cleverly imagined character driven story, with little happening but saying rather a lot.I'd recommended Eggshells for a quirky, light hearted, but thought provoking read making it perfect for book group reads and deal for fans of the Rosie Project, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and A Man Called Ove.Disclaimer: I received a complementary digital advanced reading copy of 'Eggshells' by Catriona Lally from the publisher and TLC Book Tours to take part in the blog tour.