The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Summary from Goodreads:

The haunting, humorous and tender story of the brief lives of the five entrancing Lisbon sisters, The Virgin Suicides, now a major film, is Jeffrey Eugenides' classic debut novel.

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 the things that I picked up right after reading the first few pages of The Virgin Suicides, is the mood. There is that melancholy, mysterious, and foreboding atmosphere. Eugenides also seems to put out a tone of eerie calmness, you know, the one just right before someone or something jumps you, and then bit by bit he gives out both somber elements and whimsical ones about The Lisbon Girls. It's like rowing on a lazy river on a beautiful summer's day. But there is a dark cloud a little to your right and a crocodile a little to your left. If that makes any sense. It was just prose like no other. Eugenides can make even the most unglamorous of tasks, like brushing your teeth, seem like the most artful and elegant activity there is. He has a way with words that seems to bring inanimate objects to life and I constantly found myself wondering whether old hi-tops, corsages, bird baths, and sack dressess are telling me something meaningful, speaking to me.

And then the POV also stood out. It was a first person plural POV ("we") of a group of school boys besotted and in awe of the Lisbon sisters. And I just loved reading the story through their voices which were just filled with infatuation and frustration and nostalgia and then despair and loss. The revelation in the end, that they were already middle-aged men, still clinging to the memory on the ephemeral Lisbon girls, was quite a nice unexpected touch that made everything about their ordeal and that of the Lisbons' much more potent.

As much as the story is unique, I also found it a bit bizarre. This whole idea of having all 5 sisters take their life because of an autocratic mother and a submissive father. And how these school boys seem to worship these sisters, as if they are other wordly beings. But I guess the bizarreness drew me in as much as the prose. It is a bit slow on the build-up and it isn't a page turning murder mystery by all means, but please come and stay for the prose because it is just mesmerizingly wonderful.

Comments

  1. I agree on the prose. Isn't it just the loveliest thing about this book? ;)

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    Replies
    1. I know right? Jeffrey Eugenides has a way with words like no other. The prose is just very elegant and lyrical. :)

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  2. Replies
    1. Hi Monique! Just googled Middlesex. It's another unique plot. Wala pa akong naririnig na ganito ah. Mailagay nga sa listahan. Hehe. :)

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