The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

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Blurb: "The shocking thing about the girls was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives. Twenty years on, their enigmatic personalities are embalmed in the memories of the boys who worshipped them and who now recall their shared adolescence: the brassiere draped over a crucifix belonging to the promiscuous Lux; the sisters' breathtaking appearance on the night of the dance; and the sultry, sleepy street across which they watched a family disintegrate and fragile lives disappear."

One of my all time favourites. Despite its macabre subject, The Virgin Suicides elicits lost childhoods spent during long summer days and is one of the most original coming of age stories I've ever read. There's a lot of warmth and romanticism as the boys who longingly watch the Lisbon sisters, narrate the middle class American suburbia around them. Through the boys, we are privy to a sheltered bubble that Mrs Lisbon tries to keep her daughters in to protect them from the outside world. Yet this cotton wool wrapping attempt of preserving innocence only makes things worse. The five Lisbon sisters (Cecilia, Therese, Mary, Bonnie and Lux) entrance the boys and after the sisters are gone, its the boys who are left wondering how and why things happened the way that they did.

The descriptive writing is at times poetic and simply beautiful; often wistful and yearning. It goes through the emotions of being young, witnessing death at that age and overcoming it.

Suicide is still sadly a shamefully taboo subject, even in our modern day relatively liberal world. There's just something about it that unsettles people and put them on edge and this book explores some of the aspects of human reactions when it happens in their neighbourhood. Is it strange to say that I enjoyed reading this? Perhaps, but I think that shows how much further the story goes and how many different threads (love, youth etc) can be unraveled from it.
10/10

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It is rare that I love a film adaptation as much as the original book, but The Virgin Suicides is certainly an exception. Directed by Sofia Coppola, it brings the book to life in beautiful detail.


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