Eileen – Ottessa Moshfegh


A character study of a lonely young woman working in a boys’ prison outside Boston in the early 60s and her harrowing story of obsession.

➤ “Eileen is unexceptional, unfulfilled and unhappy. She leads a boring and monotonous life, however is one of the most fascinating and interesting fictional characters I’ve come across in years. She was so pitiful I felt exhilarated by her triumphs, no matter how minor they were.

“The novel’s sense of impending doom had me desperately looking for clues along the way as the author slowly revealed key pieces of information.

“When major knockout of a storyline was revealed I was shocked in the same way I felt with We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (shortlisted in 2014).

“Eileen the character is unheroic and tragic. Eileen the novel is bloody great.”– Suzy

➤ “Eileen is a fabulous character study of a down-trodden, mentally unstable woman suffering from multiple repressions. Eileen, our unreliable narrator, becomes obsessed by one person after another, manoeuvering her day to day rituals around running into or observing her latest victim, all the while exhibiting strange and creepy personal behaviours and thoughts. So far, so good. In fact, excellent. This is my kind of book and I read with fervour.

“However, we get to 43 pages before the end of the book and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. The crux of the story is noted on the back cover blurb (ggrr pet hate) yet has still not occurred. Until then it’s purely back story and a character study, albeit superbly done. My mistake of reading the blurb ensured I was constantly searching for a plot that didn’t exist.

“But if I remove my pre-conceived expectations and look at the book for what it is, it is excellent. Thrilling, tragic, beautifully written and with the ultimate creepy antagonist. I’ve thought about Eileen a lot since finishing so it’s certainly got under my skin. Read it, just don’t read the back cover!” – Rachel

Published 2015
Penguin Press
272 pages



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