How long: Two days.
Where I finished it: Midair somewhere above Hungary.
Should be read while listening to: Rave On by Cults
Favourite quote: The Lisbons could hardly wait for night to forget themselves in sleep
The title of this post is completely inaccurate as it was at least two weeks ago that I was actually reading this book. In two days flat (almost all of that in one sitting).
I think if I’d known absolutely anything about this before I bought it I wouldn’t have bothered as it really isn’t the kind of book I usually like – no plot but lots of atmospheric description. Although I am partial to dark and depressing which this certainly is. As it is I bought it almost entirely on the strength of it’s being mentioned at some point in The Gilmore Girls which is the whole reason I bought Valley of the Dolls which is now on my list of top ten books of all time (and a little bit because the cover is very pretty).
I wouldn’t quite go so far as to place The Virgin Suicides as an all time favourite but it’s without a doubt a brilliant book and one I am going to start recommending to absolutely everyone.
There is practically no plot at all. We’re told right on the back cover that the five Lisbon sisters all commit suicide within a year of each other and the book is set twenty years later, looking back on some of the events of their lives, not chronologically, not attempting any tension or cliffhangers, not asking any questions or finding any answers.
The story is told from the point of view of five boys who have almost no involvement in the plot at all which only added to the meandering, almost pointless feel of the way it was written. They don’t claim to know or understand the Lisbon girls. Although they watch them the whole of their lives from the house across the street, once the doors are closed they have no way of knowing what was going on inside and what drove them to suicide.
For me The Virgin Suicides reminded me of Catch 22 though I can’t for the life of me think why. Maybe the detailed description, or the melancholy sense of impending doom but never quite knowing when that doom is going to come or what’s going to cause it. Whatever the reason, for me to be comparing things to Catch 22 (greatest book ever written) you know it’s got to be something special.
I started this book in the bath on Wednesday night and finished it on the plane the next morning. And it’s been a while since the end of a book has affected quite as much as this one did. I was seriously tearing up for the last few pages, partly because of the melancholy tone of the writing and partly because I didn’t want it to be over. I felt like the narrator; I wanted to know everything about these girls and not to understand why they had to die, not to make sense of it, for the first time ever I didn’t even want a clear cut ending, I just wanted to keep reading.