Book Review: Eggshells by Caitriona Lally

Title:  Eggshells
Author: Caitriona Lally
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Release Date:  March 14, 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction 

A whimsical, touching debut about loneliness, friendship and hope. 

Vivian doesn't feel like she fits in - and never has. As a child, she was so whimsical that her parents told her she was "left by fairies." Now, living alone in Dublin, the neighbors treat her like she's crazy, her older sister condescends to her, social workers seem to have registered her as troubled, and she hasn't a friend in the world. 

So, she decides it's time to change her life: She begins by advertising for a friend. Not just any friend. She wants one named Penelope. Meanwhile, she roams the city, mapping out a new neighborhood every day, seeking her escape route to a better world, the other world her parents told her she came from. And then one day someone named Penelope answers her ad for a friend. And from that moment on, Vivian's life begins 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.

Eggshells by Caitriona Lally caught my interest in the title, in the tag line of "A quirky, touching debut about loneliness, friendship, and hope," as well as the colorful cover.  The first page tells us we're about to meet the "quirky" of this novel, and quirky is putting it mildly.

The risk authors placed on writing character driven novels is the hope that the characters are the draw and that readers will somehow relate to them, even if they don't like them. Unfortunately, I neither like or are able to relate to our main character, Vivian. I think there's a difference in being different, and not being stereotyped. Vivian, in my understanding is illogical and not at all understandable. I can't seem to put myself in her eyes at all.  The plot is incoherent at best, does not flow nor concludes. There was no redemptive quality in the purpose of "why" and I think as a reader, finding and feeling the completion that a book when the last page is read is important. And sadly, I do not find that in Eggshells.  Despite my misgivings of the characters (why would two sisters have the same name?) I do think the author's debut novel is creative and unique.  I don't think I've ever read a story quite like this. It may be a hit for some, but sadly a miss for me.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.

For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.



CAITRIONA LALLY studied English Literature in Trinity College Dublin.  She has had a colorful employment history, working as an abstract writer and a copywriter, as well as a home helper in New York and an English teacher in Japan. She has traveled extensively around Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America.  Caitriona was shortlisted for “Newcomer of the Year” in the Irish Book Awards in 2015.


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