Jeff Holcomb's Reviews > Eva Moves the Furniture

Eva Moves the Furniture by Margot Livesey
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Sep 18, 2011

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Read from September 04 to 16, 2011

Margot Livesey came highly recommended by my writing instructor at Grub Street, and for the most part I agree: she's an excellent writer. She's writes with authority and command, and the reader never loses the sense of authorial control. I was drawn specifically to Eva Moves the Furniture because of the subject matter--the protagonist is presumably a paranoid schizophrenic--since it parallels my own novel. However, my major gripe with how Livesey deals with Eva McEwen's mental illness is that she is self-aware of her own hallucinations. She acknowledges that her companions--the woman Marian and the girl Elizabeth--are not actually there, that only she can see and hear them, and that she must keep them a secret at all costs. I actually did the same with a novella I wrote in college ("The Shield of Achilles") where my protagonist Tom Nadeau knows the voices he's hearing aren't really his parents', but I now chalk that failed perspective up to my own naiveté at the time (all book research and no live interviews). I'm by no means an expert now, but in my experience schizophrenics do not accept that they're abnormal. Special? Yes. Extraordinary? Absolutely. Armed with superpowers? You betcha. They may even hide their hallucinations, but not because they think they're crazy. Eva seems to acknowledge not only that she's different, but also that she's mentally ill. I'll admit it's a fine line to tread, but Livesey steps her toe slightly over the line in my opinion.
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