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3.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,442 ratings  ·  327 reviews
Vivian doesn’t feel like she fits in – never has. She lives alone in a house in north Dublin that her great-aunt left to 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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published May 20th 2014 by Liberties Press
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Susan I just really can't imagine they'd like it. I'm still waiting for something to actually happen.

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Average rating 3.08  · 
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 ·  1,442 ratings  ·  327 reviews

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I used to bring home damp and gleaming shells, I used to think if I found the perfect shell I would find the shape of the world, but I was always disappointed. When I washed them later, their sea-gleam would trickle down the sink, leaving a dull sheen the colour of dry lament.

this book is 100% character-driven, and how you respond to it as a reader will depend on how long you can appreciate/tolerate being immersed in this character's particular voice and perspective.

vivian is a sweet oddball of
Amalia Gavea
‘’When they were deciding how to bury her, I said she had always wanted to be cremated. It was a lie the size of a graveyard, but I wanted to make sure she was well and truly dead.’’

Meet Vivian. A girl that talks to chairs, decides what to eat based on colour preferences, shares Christmas wishes in April, wants to have a friend exclusively named Penelope and to work as a professional bubble blower. In Dublin, a lovely, lively, quirky capital, anything is possible. However, our lovely heroine
Jay Green
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a stunning book, written with insight, empathy, and a deft mastery of tone and language. I've read a lot of reviews that focus on the quirkiness and sweetness of Vivian, the protagonist, which is a testament to Lally's superb writing, because this book is, if anything, a penetrating, powerful and in-depth psychological profile of an abuse survivor and the techniques she uses to make sense of the world in order to cope with her mistreatment at her parents' hands.

The abuse Vivian suffered
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
When I began this I got frustrated because I kept waiting for the story to begin, at about half way through I realized that being inside Vivian's head was the story. Vivian goes on walks everyday and records interesting words and eats strange combinations of food and doesn't bath and tries to interact with others. If my lists of what Vivian does every day annoy you try reading an entire book in this manner. Once I got past the midpoint, I did enjoy it more and laughed out loud at poor Vivian's ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, what-is-this
If this book had not made me laugh (a lot actually), I probably would have quit. It’s a good example of learning to like a character while getting to know her; spending page after page following her around Dublin as she traverses a different part of the city, as she notes streets, missing words, making lists, or simply doing something cockamamie crazy (happens to be where many of those laughs came in to play). I think she may be the busiest character I’ve ever met in a book. And it’s not ...more
Betsy Robinson
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vivian, whose sister is also named Vivian, was considered by her dead parents to be a changeling—a nonhuman from fairyland. She lives alone with no job and no friends in her dead great-aunt's house, where she tries not to hurt the feelings of all the inanimate objects in her life, and she seeks to mimic how "real humans" think and behave.

A winner of the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2014, Eggshells is Vivian's story of trying to be normal, while searching desperately for an entrance to a place
Eggshells is the story of Vivian Lawler who lives in North Dublin. Her great aunt died and left Viv her house. Viv doesn't work, and it seems she lives on money her great aunt left. She is friendless, and her only family is her upwardly mobile sister, brother-in-law, and their two children. Viv occupies her herself walking all over Dublin in a manner not unsimilar to Leopold Bloom's perambulations. Everyday at the end of her ramblings Viv draws an outline of her walk and then decides what it ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded up.

So ... here's the deal - superficially this is VERY similar to last year's Booker winner Milkman - both concern outcast, quirky young women in Ireland who live inside their heads and comment internally about their life, their families, their neighbors, etc., with not a heck of a lot happening PLOTwise. Both perambulate around the city (Dublin in this case), both are stuck in repetitious pursuits, both are not quite right in the head. Both authors also have intriguing, somewhat
Margaret Madden
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars
Vivian is not great at social interaction. Actually, Vivian is extremely awkward in company and can go days without speaking to another human being. A grown-up orphan, she lives in an inherited house in Dublin's North inner city. She has sporadic contact with her sister, also called Vivian, and avoids her neighbours as much as possible. However, she would like to have friends, have a purpose to her days and someone to bounce her random thoughts off. Lemonfish, her decrepit goldfish, is
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
I feel like this might have made a good short story. The premise is interesting. Vivian is under the delusion that she's a changeling, a child of fairies who was swapped with a human child. She wanders the streets of Dublin searching for a portal back to the fairy world. And then she traces her route on a piece of paper and describes the shape she's made. "A pony with a corn cob pipe up its ass." (Ok, I made that one up.) She does this over and over and over again. She writes down whimsical ...more
Apr 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
I read for enjoyment. This book gave me a headache. About half way through I started skimming ahead, looking for a miracle, and to be honest, praying the goldfish didn't die. The main character needs therapy and meds. I need a Tylenol.
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This urban fairytale is a modern take on Joyce’s ambulatory paean to the city of Dublin. Wordplay on ‘changeling’ and ‘challenging’ sums up the beguiling narrator, who seems, in the Irish phrase, to be literally ‘away with the fairies’. Her whimsical perspective, as she searches for a portal to the ‘otherworld’, bring the city and its culture to life in an entertaining and touchingly original way.

Reviewed for
Bela Darcy
Nov 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, 2018
I left it behind for a while and continued with my TBR list... but I can’t keep reading this book. It doesn’t happen anything and even though the first chapters were promising... the book turned out being boring. I find somethings disgusting and I don’t know.

Maybe I’ll give it another try in a future.
DJ Sakata
My Rating:


Favorite Quotes:

My glance keeps returning to the urn; I’m expecting the lid to open and the burnt eye of my great-aunt to peek out. When they were deciding how to bury her, I said she had always wanted to be cremated. It was a lie the size of a graveyard, but I wanted to make sure she was well and truly dead.

Some of the white letters on the street signs have been coloured blue to match the blue background… I picture a band of Smurfs combing the city in the black of night with tins
John Braine
Aug 31, 2015 rated it liked it
I heard such great things about Eggshells and I really wanted to like it more and I should have loved it. It's the exact kind of book that I love; with quirky imaginative characters in their own little world, who make up their own superstitions. Two of my all time favourites are such books. The Wasp Factory & When God was a Rabbit.

I was really enjoying it at the start, highlighting passages all over the place. But I increasingly had problems with it as I read on. I just found Vivian a bit
Vivian might be away with the fairies, but she has the truest gaze of all. The world she lives in is tilted about 2 degrees, and with Vivian as the guide the mundane and routine are revived and freshened.

Best of all is just the way the words are arranged. It’s how Vivian describes her own thinking
"The idea of owning something so unownable is strange: owning a house-sized quantity of air is like owning a patch of the sky. I laugh, but the sound is mean and tinny, so I take in a lung of air and
Meg - A Bookish Affair
In "Eggshells," Vivian doesn't fit in and never has. In fact, her parents told her that she was a changeling and the reader is left questioning whether or not this really might be the case. Vivian spends her life doing things that seem odd to others. She tries to model behavior that would be considered normal but fails every time. She is lonely and decides to advertise for a friend and not just a friend but a friend specifically named Penelope. She feels that this will be the first step to ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars: If you enjoy wordplay and odd characters, this novel is for you. There’s not much action, other than roaming the streets of Dublin, yet the inner musings of Vivian Lawlor, and the interaction Vivian has with the public is laugh-out-loud hysterical.

This is a dark comedy in that Vivian is odd to the point of pity. The reader cringes for her lack of social awareness. Yet, it’s that lack that brings some of the funniest and best lines in the novel. Vivian believes she is a changeling, as
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
I like quirky characters, but the MC here goes way beyond quirky. She believes (and her parents believed) that she is a changeling. The book documents her various attempts to return to Faerie. She roams town testing various myths and baffling everyone she meets. The writing style and narration were great, but the story is a bit meandering and pointless. The MC is a sympathetic character, but I was left wondering if she was mentally ill/disabled.
May 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
Needlessly quirky, twee, whimsical shit that quickly became annoying (inner eye rolls galore) and repetitive, episodic chapters so you never felt there was a point to any of it.
Just no.
Liz Maguire
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Caitriona Lally’s Eggshells is a poetic lyric to Dublin.

Meet Vivian, the most impressionable protagonist to hit shelves this year. When we meet her she’s living in the home of her deceased great aunt, a collector—borderline hoarder—of every type of chair. She’s the kind of woman who leaves five euro notes in the pockets of cardigans in shops, squeezes the cream from her cakes into her coffee and believes in the magic of words to take her away. Vivian, who lives convinced that she’s a “
Shannon Cruz
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story of an emotionally abused, socially awkward, and lonely girl. The character of Vivian is so complex and we brought into the mind of her everyday meanderings.

My gut reaction is that Vivian has some form of autism, with her amazing attention to detail and love of words. Because of this, her parents resented her and made her believe she didn't belong in this world.

Lally did an amazing job using intense imagery that made you feel you were walking right next to Vivian on the streets of Dublin.
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vivian doesn't feel like she fits in - and never has. Apparently, she was odd enough as a child that her parents told her she was "left by fairies," and now, living alone in Dublin, people tend to treat her like she's crazy. Friendless, she puts up an ad for a friend, specifically a friend named Penelope. In the meantime, Vivian wanders the city, mapping out a new area or neighborhood every day, seeking an escape to a better world, where there are fairies and where she will fit in. When a woman ...more
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a snapshot of one woman’s life. We don’t know how old Vivian is, exactly how she got to the point where we meet her, or where it is she is heading. It is written in first person present and is essentially a stream of consciousness. There is no plot as such. From her thoughts and her interactions with others we get a glimpse of her past but are never given the actual facts. And the book ends very abruptly, so much so that I thought I had some missing. But we had to leave her sometime and ...more
Suze Lavender
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Vivian isn't like most other people. She's living in a world where fairytales are part of reality, where personal hygiene isn't the most important thing in the world and where she's perfectly happy with her own company. She tries to be more social though. She's inherited her great-aunt's house and after her death Vivian needs to find a new balance, to make an every day life for herself that she enjoys. She reaches out to her sister, she tries to find a friend, but only one who's called Penelope, ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Best for: People who like a whole lot of randomness in their novels.

In a nutshell: Woman who was likely abused when a child believes she’s a fairy and travels Dublin searching for her real home.

Line that sticks with me: “A politician is calling on another politician to do something. I would like to call on someone to do something but I don’t know if anyone would listen.”

Why I chose it: On independent bookstore day in Seattle, I visited 19 bookstores. Many were giving away mystery books wrapped
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book and I thought it was fantastic. As a regular walker in Dublin you can feel the streets come to life through the pages. Eggshells is a love story but one with a difference. The love in Eggshells is the author's love of Dublin and the main character's quest for the love of friendship. It is both hilarious and poignant. Lally is yet another new voice in Irish fiction. If you're from Dublin, have ever visited Dublin, or ever want to visit Dublin then this is a book for you! ...more
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it
2.5 rounded up. This is normally my favorite kind of book, but it stopped working for me quickly. Some of the lines touched me deeply and I thought oh great, a five star book! But then it would pass and I suddenly I felt enough was enough, I couldn't go on... it felt as if every single line was written to befuddle, it became too much of a good thing and plot and purpose didn't want to show itself. I quit at 30%, unusual for me to abandon a quirky book, just didn't want to hear her blather on ...more
Linda Quinn
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whimsical and different, with enough humor to keep me reading. Vivian is manic and searching for where she belongs in this world. In the end, how can you help but love someone who checks every wardrobe for Narnia and every yellow road for an Emerald City at the end? This was a moving book that explores the outcasts and the different among us who are only looking for where they fit in and hoping for a friend.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, fiction
I absolutely loved this book! There are a lot of Amy Krouse Rosenthal vibes in Vivian’s (the main character and narrator) idiosyncrasies. Her lists, thoughts, comparisons, etc. I picked this up after reading about how the author won a prestigious literary award given by Trinity College Dublin where she works as a janitor.
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Play Book Tag: Eggshells by Caitriona Lally - 3 stars 5 20 Apr 26, 2017 02:49PM  

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“I'm uncomfortable with verbs; they expect too much.” 8 likes
“I WANT A friend called Penelope. When I know her well enough, I’ll ask her why she doesn’t rhyme with antelope.” 6 likes
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