I enjoyed the prose, but found the overall story depressing. I am not giving away the story, since the novel tells you this in the first 5 pages, that all 5 daughters of this middle class family commit suicide within one calendar year. My heart broke for these poor girls and all of those around them. I was also frustrated with how they got lost in, or were never acknowledged by, the system. I just kept reading, wondering how, if this were a true story, would any of this be allowed to happen?
Hard to read emotionally, the story of a family of five girls as viewed by the boys in the neighborhood. The girls had taken on an iconic status over the years of their lives, due in large part to very strict parenting. When the youngest, least stable daughter takes her life, the family closes in on itself.
Through Jeffrey Eugenides' fantastic writing, I was completely drawn into the account of the demise of the Lisbon family. I could not put this book down. The language in this book is beautiful and haunting. Though be warned, the book does contain some sexual or violent content.
This book is very slow. Too much descriptions that were really not needed. I felt it made the book boring. I think I learned more about the certain type of bugs that were talked about than the girls that committed suicide.
I did like this book and I would recommend it to others, but there was something about the way it was laid out that didn't work for me. It may have been the narrative. It seemed to give the story a bit of an exaggerated feel, more like gossip and less like an account of actual past events, not that it was based on true events anyway. It was an engaging, depressing novel, but I liked Middlesex much better. I like Jeffrey Eugenides' writing style. I highly recommend 'The Virgin Suicides' movie starring Kirsten Dunst whether or not you have read this book. This story worked much better on film in my opinion.
I was looking forward to the book so much, I was excited to receive it. The story is interesting. The problem is the writer. I enjoy lyrical, clever, even wandering prose, if it's done well. I just could not get past how the story is told from the viewpoint of "we."
"We" saw this, "we" heard that. When the author could not find a way to tell the story because none of the young boys that make up "we" would have possibly observed it, he covered it by having "we" do interviews in later years. So "we" interviewed a lot of people in a really creepy way, apparently, just to satisfy "our" nosiness (so a group of men in later years interviewed the other characters?). Ugh.
The editor should have slapped the author at some point, asking him, "Does 'we' have a mouse in 'our' pocket?!?" I fully understand the author wanting to make an impression for his first novel ("Push the envelope, make it interesting, depart from norms. The self-proclaimed literary snobs will love you!"), but certain literary standards should be maintained.
I thought this book was brilliant. The narrator's perspective was so interesting--that of the boys in the neighborhood who watched and fantasized about these girls from afar. You couldn't help but mirror this perspective; I was both fascinated and disturbed by the actions of the girls, yet I always wanted to know more. Although it starts off a bit slow, the story really draws you in and makes you want to know just as much about these girls as the narrator does. It demonstrates the loss of innocence in such an intriguing and haunting manner.
I found this to be one of the slowest moving books I've ever read. It is indulgently descriptive in a way that often does nothing to contribute to the story being told. It pretends to be stream of consciousness, but I felt it was more just plain rambling.
I LOVED Middlesex, so wanted to read more from Eugenides - I was extremely disappointed. The Virgin Suicides seemed to me to be an incomplete novel - there didn't seem to be much of a point to the story. Glad it was a short book so I could move on to something else...
Some may remember this movie that came out a few years ago with Kirsten Dunst. This book tells the story of a dysfunctional suburban family that becomes the obsession of all the young boys of the town. It's an easy and quick read.
A debut novel set in the "elm-lined streets of subrubia in the seventies, and introduces us to the men changed forever by their fierce, awkward obsession with five doomed sisters." Made into a movie starring James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, and Josh Hartnett.
Very sad story, I feel terrible for those girls. The ending was so heartbreaking, I kept hoping it would turn out a different way, but I can't even imagine what they were going through.
On a side note it was kinda a weird feeling reading it since I live right by the area in this book! Fishflies are horrid creatures. ;)
I read Middlesex several years ago and really enjoyed it. I expected to get the same satisfaction from reading this book, but was disappointed. His prose, as usual, is clever and lovely, but I felt like it lacked the same soul as Middlesex. Predominately because you never really got to know any of the characters - it was narrated by a nameless person in the context of presenting a case - about a set of girls he didn't really know. There was some attempt to show how it affected him and his friends, but without larger context of who he or they were it felt empty.
From Library Journal
Eugenides's remarkable first novel opens on a startling note: "On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide... 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." What follows is not, however, a horror novel, but a finely crafted work of literary if slightly macabre imagination. In an unnamed town in the slightly distant past, detailed in such precise and limpid prose that readers will surely feel that they grew up there, Cecilia--the youngest and most obviously wacky of the luscious Lisbon girls--finally succeeds in taking her own life. As the confused neighbors watch rather helplessly, the remaining sisters become isolated and unhinged, ending it all in a spectacular multiple suicide anticipated from the first page. Eugenides's engrossing writing style keeps one reading despite a creepy feeling that one shouldn't be enjoying it so much. A black, glittering novel that won't be to everyone's taste but must be tried by readers looking for something different. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/92.
- Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
"The Virgin Suicides" is hard to classify in a specific genre, but it needn't have one to be a great book. Detailing the mysterious and claustrophobic lives of a group of sisters in the 1970s, told from the point-of-view of a group of neighbor boys fascinated with the girls, the story is well-written and is both funny and tragic. Eugenides casts a certain moody magic over his prose, and manages to explore themes of sheltering, societal expectations, adolescence, and, yes, depression and suicide, in a haunting story filled with intriguing characters. This is a highly recommended book, and the film version by acclaimed director Sofia Coppola is unmissable, too.
Great title, of course - as provocative as you could want, but what I really liked was the phrasing. He really described things in fresh ways. Eugenides doesn't call attention to imagery, and metaphor, but it's there, effortless, plentiful, and perfect. The xylophone of a spine, the viral spread of malaise, winter being the part of earth's orbit in the dark, cobwebby corners of the solar system.
What's that? You all read this and saw the movie like twenty years ago, so why am I telling you this now? Look, I've been busy, OK!?
I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd heard it was a classic, so I gave it a try. It's written from the perspective of the neighborhood boys and how they try to understand what happened.
The story didn't really align to my views about suicide. I think that kept me from feeling satisfied about the story. I couldn't find sympathy for the characters. For something that should be emotionally charged, it just felt detached.
I saw the movie a couple of years ago and it's originality and style just knocked me out. The book is very well written, but having seen the movie first kinda took the punch out if it for me. The sisters are seen as an allegory which I didn't follow all that well.
This book was sad and enthralling. It really moved me because the narrator's voice kept asking the question why, and i found myself having the same desperate feeling I wanted to figure it all out. A brilliant but sad book!
"Juxtaposing the most common and most gpthic, the humorous and the tragic, the author Jeffrey Eugenides creates a vivid and compelling portrait of youth and lost innocence. he takes the reader back to the elm lined streets of middle class america, to the sights, the smells, and the sensation of backyards and school yards filled with wonder and mystery.
The Lisbon family seemed like the all-American family, living in a great suburban neighborhood with five beautiful daughters. That all changes with the suicide of the youngest daughter. The world of the family, as well as all of the boys who long for the sisters, is turned upside down, eventually leading to an even more tragic end.
A very interesting book! Set in suburban 1970's, the book really reveals the true nature of the Lisbon family, especially Lux, the "wild" sister. The narrator is an unnamed man telling the story through flashbacks of when he was one of the many young men who adored the sisters. Great read!
The prose in this book is some of the most beautiful I have ever read. I have read this book 13 times, and will read it a dozen or so more. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys romanticism and youth. Amazing.
'The Virgin Suicides' is one of those critically-acclaimed books that, after you read it, you stand back and say "Huh?" And then start beating yourself up for not being intellectual enough or perceptive enough to winkle out the deep and profound meaning, the extended metaphors, and the classical allegory of the novel.
Either that, or the emperor has no clothes.
Eugenides' debut novel, apparently set in the 70s (as determined by the pop songs and teen fashions being referenced), traces the story of five sisters in one family who all kill themselves over a one-year period of time. That's not a spoiler, as it's referenced fairly early on while the novel's structure is being set up. The story is told in flashback from the viewpoint of several young men (their exact number and specific identities are never clarified) who were hormone-laden contemporaries of the Lisbon sisters and lusted for them in various ways during the last year of their lives.
One could, I suppose, expound upon the fact that the interior lives and ultimate motivations of the girls are never shown from the girls' viewpoints. Perhaps this is intended to reflect the notion that women exist only to reflect the ideas of men, or that adolescents are routinely destroyed by the expectations of the adult world. Or maybe that modern families have become so insular that a community no longer sees, or is expected to step in (so much for "it takes a village") when one nuclear family begins to implode.
One could pretend that the metaphor of the gradual disintegration of the Lisbon home is a brilliant and original way to represent the disintegration of the family and their intertwined manifestations of obsession and madness, except that it's neither brilliant nor original. Most of the metaphors, in fact -- the brief lifespan of the fish-flies whose annual cycle of emergence and death bracket the year-long span of the story, the slow dying of the stately elm trees whose beauty and dignity enhanced the neighborhood -- are labored and obvious.
Or one could simply throw up one's hands and move on to a more satisfying read, where characters develop, interact, and advance the basic plot as they reveal themselves and their relationships. Because one will find none of those qualities in this book.
The novel that Sophia Coppolla turned into a film. A great story seen through the eyes of a bunch of inexperienced young neighborhood boys, in which they seem to blend fact and fantasy as they relate the strange tale of the desireable, beautiful and tragic Lisbon sisters. The story imagines the world of these enigmatic and unobtainable sisters in a way only adolescent boys could.
This was a very interesting read about a family with five girls and their struggles. It kept my attention the entire time. I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know how closely they relate, but the book was definitely worth the read.
As Harper's Bazaar commented: "Haunting...compelling.." It took a while for me to get into the story since I kept thinking how the parents would feel when all five daughters were gone. But once I let go of the 'mom' factor, I truly enjoyed Eugenides writing. Loved his descriptive phrases like "a midnight-blue jar of Vicks VapoRub fingerprinted inside" and "the hopeless expression of a man draining a swamp with a kitchen sponge".
Great writing for a debut novel.