In the early pages of The Lesser Bohemians I came very close to giving up on this book. What’s wrong with the Irish? I thought, the stream of conscious writing reminding me Ulysses. Instead, I slowed my reading down until I was able to fall into the rhythm of our young narrator’s voice. She (unnamed for much of the novel) is a young woman, freshly arrived in London from Ireland in order to study acting. She meets an older, somewhat successful actor, and begins a tempestuous relationship with him. Along the way discovering both more about herself and about life in general.
In one respect, that’s all the novel is about and at a couple of points, I found myself wondering how much longer McBride could spin this out. Yet she keeps revealing a new twist, a new spin on the same story, as she unravels the stories of these two people.
The style of the book is very distinct and certainly not for everyone. As mentioned, I found it initially off-putting but I am glad I stuck with it. Before long I found it beautiful and descriptive and true to who our narrator was. Fair warning: There is a lot of sex in this book. I would say perhaps more than necessary but it also doesn’t feel gratuitous. Overall, I’m looking forward to reading another by McBride soon.