Thursday Book Review: “Eggshells”

 Catriona Lally‘s Eggshells has received a large amount of praise since being published by Liberties Press last year. Not least of which is that it was nominated for the The Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year Award in the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards. See why this book is so special, according to Declan Kiberd, below.
See the original review on The Irish Times here.

Declan Kiberd on Eggshells: ‘an edgy and visionary book’

 Catriona Lally has written a book which reminds us that the seeming eccentric is often simply a person with a deeper-than-average understanding of normality.


Her voice is as original as her take on things.

Her central character makes the familiar world of postmodern Dublin seem very strange and the strange world of fairyland seem more familiar. Her voice is as original as her take on things. Her character walks through the streets of Dublin, a thirtysomething latter-day version of Leopold Bloom, who performs a kind of reverse anthropology (as he did) on everything from nosy neighbours to noisy shops.

At times, her protagonist is in rebellion against a social consensus which prescribes narrow options for such a woman; but at other times she seems marvellously unaware of “the rules” which she so mysteriously flouts … as if she is truly a visitor from another world altogether.

…she combines his kind of fabulism
with a radical social analysis.

Lally’s successful fusion of fairy-lore with an urban setting reminds me a little of the writing of the great James Stephens – and she combines his kind of fabulism with a radical social analysis. As her protagonist seeks for a “portal” into the virtual world of fairyland, it isn’t hard to imagine that search as emblematic of all attempts by an unlucky post-Tiger generation to “find an opening” in the form of a decent job.

…a remarkable debut.

This is an edgy and visionary book, conveying well the sights, sounds and feelings of contemporary Dublin – a remarkable debut.

Declan Kiberd is the Donald and Marilyn Keough professor of Irish studies and professor of English at the University of Notre Dame


Vivian doesn’t feel like she fits in-never has. She lives alone in a house in North Dublin that her great-aunt left her. She has no friends, no job and few social skills. She knows she is different. Before they died, her parents used to tell her she was a ‘changeling’ who belonged to another world. Each day, she walks the streets of Dublin, looking for a way to get there, but she never finds one. After all, Dublin has a certain charm, but no actual magic. Instead of a way out, will Vivian find a way to feel like she belongs here in this world? Rooted in Dublin’s Northside, Eggshells is a whimsical, touching story about loneliness, friendship and hope.

Eggshells is now available in the US here on our website ($13.99), and from all major booksellers.

More Reviews

“Delightfully quirky… Vivian’s voice alone is enough to keep us reading, charmed by her unique brand of manic, word-hoarding wit.”
-Irish Independent.

“A wonderful debut, funny and touching, with skillfull wordplay at work.”
-Irish Examiner.

“Highly original, Lally has a unique voice as a writer.”
-Sunday Independent.

“A fairy tale of contemporary Dublin. Edgy and eloquent, a remarkable debut.”
-Declan Kiberd.

“The book’s style calls to mind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Engaging and humorous. The perfect gift to send to expats of Dublin.”
-Dublin Inquirer.

“Eggshells expresses a Joycean sense of the ordinary. A brilliantly realised first-person narraive… a memorable debut.”
-Totally Dublin.



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