10 out of 10 out of a blooming 10!!! (3 exclamation points, so you know it's real. Also, stop playing and read this bruv)
The book's about Eileen, who floats between a painfully miserable, soul-sucking job at a boys' prison and half-heartedly taking care of her tortured, alcoholic father, while living in a dreary, forgotten town, where nothing happens... until Rebecca starts working as a psychologist at the prison.
It's a thriller/dark comedy ... sort of like a mix between 'The Office' and 'Fargo' (the movie). I found myself cackling*, almost uncontrollably, at how Eileen described and understood herself. She's almost like the friend who gets too honest and you have to preemptively stop them especially when you're around other people.
For example, she talks about affection and intimacy (from men) as these profoundly detestable things but also acknowledges how the lack of them has left her almost irrational and desperate for them:
"Being kidnapped was something of a secret wish of mine. At least then I'd know that I mattered to someone, that I was of value. Violence made much more sense to me than any strained conversation".
There are very complex, complicated, forgiving, nuanced, honest ways, in which only female authors can describe women's lives and bodies and how the designs of the world shape and distort how we live and move in it.
I felt it in my lungs ... I was listening to a woman.
Some fire quotes:
There's nothing I detest more than men with happy childhoods.
The dress was heavy, like the hide of a strange animal.
I recall driving home that night, imagining what her body looked like under all that paisley print and gray wool. I pictured the flesh hanging from her bones like cold flanks of pork swinging from hooks at a butcher shop - thick, clammy, orange-hued fat, meat tough and bloodless and cold when the knife hacked through it.
It's funny how love can leap from one person to another, like a flea.
I lived in perpetual fantasy.
*Other books with really good, clever, outlandish, complex characters and humor:
- Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
- The secret lives of baba Segi's wives by Lola Shoneyin
- Pastoralia by George Saunders