Eileen29 Sep 2016
Dealing with a protagonist who is at once obsessed with herself and repulsed by herself is difficult for the average reader. Psychology has much to say about this duality, something many of us deal with in ourselves day after day. So following a character who is as difficult on herself as some of us are on ourselves is not exactly the escape some readers expect from a novel.
I, however, am a sucker for this type of thing. Literature, and art on the whole I suppose, if it can be described as having a goal should allow you to live a completely different life for the time that you’re experiencing it. Eileen, in this way, reminded me most of An Unnecessary Woman. Another book set entirely in the head of a woman whose internal monologue was enough to fill the pages of an entire book without losing my attention. However, instead of a young, American woman in the 1960s, that book allowed me to live the life of an older, Lebanese woman.
It’s somewhat unfortunate that this book was billed as a thriller, with a crime at its center. Even the cover design and jacket blurb highlight this aspect of the book over others. I understand the need to market a book as a thriller, but the best parts of this novel are the writing, the inner life of Eileen, her relationship with two of the main characters, and the descriptions of her relationship to herself. Seeding the reader with the idea that a crime is lurking at any moment can cloud our ability to focus on the first 4/5 of the book which is full of greatness and instead keep our eyes peeled for the last 1/5, which is not nearly as noteworthy.