Books, Review

The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides ***


I felt so depressed when I finished this book. It was not at all what I expected, not in a bad way but in the way that I thought I knew what this book was about because it’s a classic. I’m glad to know that even classics can still surprise me.

On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide – it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese – the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope.

This first line must be one of my favourites. It tells you everything and nothing at the same time.

The Lisbon daughters lived across the road from the narrators. Those boys are obsessed with the girls and their story. Over the years they have collected statements from people (neighbours, teachers, boyfriends,…) who knew the sisters and also pictures and other memorabilia. With those attributes in hand they tell you the story as detailed as they can.

And although everyone knows what happens in this book, it didn’t go the way I thought it would go.
In the end, I couldn’t figure out if they had just gotten so depressed that suicide was the only way out or if it was more of a pact/ a statement of girls who wanted nothing more than to be free. If the latter was the case, why didn’t they simply run away?

I already said that I thought this book was so depressing, but it wasn’t just for the obvious reasons. There’s also that bit near the end where all the journalists turn up and they each start telling a different story about the Lisbon daughters. Most of them don’t even care about the facts, something horrible happened so they all want their turn in the spotlight. I hated that bit, it made me so angry. (rant) It’s something that irks me in real life too. I know it’s your job but you can at least be somewhat careful about which details you disclose and what words you use to describe the events. I don’t know, is that just me? (/rant)

So to say that this is not a happy book is putting it lightly. Although it’s very dark, I think it’s also very beautifully written. The problem I had with this book was that I did not like the characters, not the sisters nor the boys who tell you the story and that’s such a shame because the story itself is a really good one. I don’t know what bothered me so much about them but it was enough of a negative feeling to stay with me after I finished the book.

Now that I read it, and really know what it’s about, I do understand why it’s considered a classic. I hope that people will continue reading it in the years to come.



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