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The Lesser Bohemians

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  3,708 ratings  ·  716 reviews
The captivating new novel from Eimear McBride, critically acclaimed and Baileys Women’s Prize-winning author of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing.

Upon her arrival in London, an 18-year-old Irish girl begins anew as a drama student, with all the hopes of any young actress searching for the fame she’s always dreamed of. She struggles to fit in—she’s young and unexotic, a naive n
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Hogarth (first published September 1st 2016)
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Amanda Jones Thinking about it as well. I think humans are contradictory and sometimes our external actions are propelled by subconscious motives. Adding a direct …moreThinking about it as well. I think humans are contradictory and sometimes our external actions are propelled by subconscious motives. Adding a direct scene where we see Stephen at that meal with Marianne and witness them having the dialogue and emotion directly, might have allowed us to embrace the story without thinking - ' a bit unlikely.' I think the story is credible and Marianne may have kept her daughter away from Stephen more to protect herself from re-opening her past hurts and turmoil than to protect her daughter, even if she convinced herself it was for the latter reason. Looking back at it, I think Marianne's behaviour in this story is inline with the range of contradictory hurtful irrational approaches we humans exercise. But because it was told to us in a rush (perhaps because editors or the author felt troubled that the story was detailed and complex enough without bringing Marianne to life in a more vivid way) ... it was harder to fully accept it.


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Elyse  Walters
Aug 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The prose was challenging for me -It felt unnatural and awkward., I didn't think much of the story. Many drama students go to London to study acting, only to get caught up in more drama off stage than on.
It's no different for the main female. The drama takes place off stage when an Irish woman becomes involved with an older man- a more seasoned stage actor twice her age.

I'd read sentences and paragraphs over and over...hoping each time I'd feel 'something'.

Here is an example of a para
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Eighteen-year-old Eily (short for Éilís) has moved to London to study theater. By day she learns how to assume the role of fictional characters; by night she navigates the bustling city and its bars packed with virile young men. One night at a pub, she meets Stephen, a well known actor twenty-one years her senior. Early flirtations progress to an intense romance - a union that draws their troubled pasts to t
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, 1990s, england

3.75 Stars

Eily is recently arrived in London, not even 20 yet, excited about beginning drama school. It’s a world away from her home in Ireland, the big city life of London so far from the life she lived with her mother. She’s naïve, but overcome with the thrill of it all, this new life.

She meets a man in a bar one night early on in this new life, she doesn’t recognize him as a well-known actor, he’s 38, twice her age, damaged, emotionally scarred. She’s not without her own emot
Love it or hate it, Eimear McBride's writing has a raging intensity that is impossible to ignore. Her extraordinary, uncompromising and innovative first book A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing was a hard act to follow, but this one is equally fierce, brave and sometimes luminous.

The framework of the plot is simple - a rites of passage love story that relates the experiences of its narrator, an Irish stage school student during her first year in London. At the start she is desperate to lose her virgin
Megan Johnson
Nov 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
I tried for a while to get into this book, and gave up pretty quickly. But you know what, I don't like to feel dumb when reading and I found this so hard to understand that I actually started getting down on myself.

After two DNF books in a row, I'm really needing something solid. Maybe there are people who will love this one (maybe even due to it's complexity), but based on how good the description sounded I couldn't help but feel like I had been mislead once I tried getting into this one.

As m
Roger Brunyate
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
A Year of Drama
Jesus. Jesus he never. Jesus he really did. No teacher Never, nor anyone else. Bang out blatant about going permissive. Noting, I note another face laughing just like me. Trying not. To be mature. To keep the rict from boiling over. Of an age she also seems so I Hello when I'd not usually. Then she, sloe-eyed with slowest smiles, says Cuppa? In the Canteen? And so wriggle in. Slip in. Remember people are blind to under your skin or. Under my skin now.
Irish girl on her first da
Christine Zibas
What is it with the Irish and their need to reconfigure language? Although not as challenging as reading, say, James Joyce, The Lesser Bohemians starts with a near stream-of-consciousness that the reader must work through to figure out just where this story begins. As the book progresses, the strangeness of the language subsides, or maybe it simply gets easier to see the path down which the author is pointing us.

Where that path leads can be truly heart-breaking, but it is also where the magic of
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
This book is magic. McBride pulls off stunts I would have never imagined. You have to commit to this book. You can't read it half-heartedly, or grab a few pages here and there. Dedicate some time to it. And if you put yourself in her hands, McBride will not let you down. In fact, she'll surprise you.

The trick lies in the most challenging part of this book. McBride tells it as a first-person narrative. I'm not sure if it technically qualifies as stream of consciousness. But it's effectively that
So, even though I had The Lesser Bohemians on my 'currently reading' shelf for over three months, I actually read the bulk of it in the last two days. I think I read the first 75 pages or something and then found myself unable to read this concurrently with War and Peace, so it got put aside for a few months. But even so, this is the longest it's taken me to read a book all year - and it's only 310 pages. So, why the delay?

Down down I down to the last flakes in. Dreaming for hours I think in
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, ireland
Going to be processing this one for a while because at times it was like A Little Life-levels of dark. But wow if she doesn't write in a way that just completely puts you inside the characters' minds; it's remarkable. Definitely a book that you will either love or hate, and not one that I would widely recommend because of the style and content. However, I found it completely engrossing and mesmerizing and quite amazing. Again, so much to process that I'll be thinking about this for quite some ti ...more
Aug 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Eily is an 18 year old Irish girl in London to attend a drama school. Stephen is a 38 year old successful actor tortured by his past. Eily meets Stephen and they fall in love.

The story is basically simple. The language is not.

McBride writes in a prose that is musical, rhythmic fragments from which the reader has to piece together a meaning. I found the writing dizzying in its challenge for many pages until I "mastered" its style and was able to generally understand it (in its overall meaning, n
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
I didn't expect to react this way to a novel with this style and subject matter, but I am emphatically, unapologetically in love with this book. Although it has maybe the best sex scenes I've ever read, what I find most seductive about it is the way that the experimental writing so clearly enhances the reading experience. The compression and intricacy of the language sucked me into a vortex of sensations and emotions, and I closed my kindle feeling dizzy and blissful. A prize winner, as far as I ...more
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So books are just like buses. You wait all year, then two 5 star reads come along one after another. (See previous review for a riveting analysis of my star awards.) As soon as I finished this book, I knew it was getting 5 stars from me. In fact half way through, I knew it was one of my favourite books of the year. However, it didn't start out that way. I hated the beginning. I haven't read McBride's other book yet (it's been sitting on my shelf since it won the Bailey's Prize) so this is my fir ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction 13/16

Eimer McBride's second novel, The Lesser Bohemians takes a lot of elements that were present in her debut, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing but improves on it, thus making this novel a more enjoyable read.

I don't really want to repeat the main plot as it has been done in nearly every review I've read but I will go into the main theme of The Lesser Bohemians and that is love in all its forms. At the start we have erotic love (eros) which develops into what is
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, favourites
But I have come into my kingdom where only pens and pencils were. Abrupt and all abrupt. No longer minnow in the darkness and the deep. Through the portholes and currents I’ve been. Going to the surface. Up into the sun. Touch my own throat. His long arm. Shining like a body come fresh into the light.

The plot of The Lesser Bohemians can be summarised all too briefly: An eighteen-year-old girl comes from small town Ireland to London in order to study acting and becomes romantically entangled
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
More like a 1.5, but I'm feeling generous - and any novel that ends with a graphic blow-by-blow (sorry!) description of fellatio (complete with swallowing!), deserves an extra half-star! I almost bailed on this during the first 30 or so pages, however, since the stream of consciousness choppy enigmatic style (along with the British colloquialisms and references that had no resonance for this Yank), just wasn't doing it for me.

Although the story itself got better thereafter, and thankfully the a
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars.

On first pass, it is tempting to imagine Eimear McBride’s second book as an alternate (happier?) ending of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. Had the unnamed narrator escaped her fate, perhaps she too would have spent her days strolling the streets of London, taking up acting as a means of trying on new, other-, or less-damaged selves.

There are lots of common threads between McBride’s first and second novels to tug on, particularly for fans of the first. Stylistically, each book presents
Mar 29, 2018 rated it liked it
At the halfway point I was poised to give up on this book. I'm quite pleased I stuck with it, as things pick up at around halfway when Stephen, a 39-year-old professional actor, reveals to Eilis, the 18-year-old Irish student with whom he is in an on-off relationship, the dark secrets of his childhood.

'The Lesser Bohemians' is undeniably inventive, well written, credibly evokes 1990s London and the dysfunctional love affair at the heart of the book, and yet, overall, I found it more annoying th
M. Sarki
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it

One-third into this novel I was struck by my own question to myself over why I was reading what appeared to be a young girl’s coming-of-age story. Of course, the agonist responsible for providing the necessary tension to the female main character of the book was a man twenty years her senior. Their sexual exploits, though non-graphic compared to our general fare, were tantalizing due to her offering of a naive virginity to him, returning repeatedly to his
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: oct-16
I really wanted to enjoy Eimear MrBride's "The Lesser Bohemians" more than I actually did.
I struggled with her challenging prose hoping that it would eventually start to flow for me (as it did with many other readers) but it became a real effort to finish.
This novel is unique and I like different. However, having to reread numerous paragraphs became a chore and it distracted me from getting involved in the story.
Coco Day
Jun 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
difficult to get into at first for the way it was written but once you latch onto the rhythm it’s very natural

gave me A Little Life vibes with the amount of TRAUMA involved so be warned (abuse, SA, addiction etc)
Leo Walsh
Nov 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Evocative and reminiscent of high-Moderns, especially Joyce and Woolf, I found myself drawn into Eimear McBride's "The Lesser Bohemians." Though it took me a while to get my footing -- a Goodreads reviewer led me to McBride's reading on YouTube, which helped me -- once I found my way, I loved the mosaic-like way McBride build her prose.

Here's an example:
“Daub my soul with a good few pints til my mouth swings wide with unutterable shite. Laughing lots too, like it’s true. Worldening maybe, I thi
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Eily, an 18 year old Irish girl (sexually abused as a child), comes to London to study a drama school – making a conscious decision to loser her virginity, she starts a relationship with a middle aged actor Stephen (as it turns out reasonably well known, albeit living in an old run-down flat). The book effectively documents their turbulent and sexually charged relationship – including a lengthy account by the actor of his past (emotionally then physically then, as a teenager, sexually abused by ...more
Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 2016-goldsmiths
McBride's first book (A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing) and I did not get on at all well, so I approached this book with some trepidation. I'm happy to say that, even though it is not a happy story (some of it is, but a lot of it is quite harrowing), I really liked this one.

The broken sentence style is still there when you start the book. However, in this book I found it very poetic and it drew me into the story. It starts as the story of a drama student who starts a relationship with an actor who
Michael Livingston
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Bloody hell McBride can write - there's nothing comparable to the visceral experience of being *inside* her narrators' heads. Here the narrator is Eily, an 18 year old Irish woman whose fled to London to act and forge a life. The book's story is of her relationship with Stephen, a much older actor with a complicated and damaged past. That makes it sound like a cliche, but it's an astonishing experience - vivid, fresh and complicated - McBride is masterful. I knocked one star off because I felt v ...more
Eric Anderson
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I can still vividly remember the experience of reading Eimear McBride’s astounding debut “A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing”. I was so confused initially and then utterly enthralled by its innovative voice. It plays with language and sentence structures so radically it takes a while to catch on to the level of narrative and, in fact, it helps to read the text aloud to catch the rhythm of what McBride is doing.

Her much-anticipated follow up “The Lesser Bohemians” begins in exactly the same way. For t
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2016
An accomplished actor in his late thirties and an eighteen-year-old aspiring actress newly arrived from Ireland meet in London and begin a yearlong affair fraught with desire and despair. This is a very simplistic summary of The Lesser Bohemians, an absolutely incredible book written by Eimear McBride. In a style at first somewhat difficult to grasp she writes with such intensity and raw beauty that it was, at times, necessary for me to put down the book to catch my breath. Easily one of the bes ...more
Jessica Reads & Rambles
*TW for child abuse and sexual violence*
I was so unexpectedly moved by this novel. Whilst I had already read McBride’s multiple prize winning A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, her unique writing style found in both books takes a while to get used to and neither are easy reads, both dealing with trauma. I listened to a lot of this one on audio, narrated by the author herself, which I think is why I so quickly fell for this unusually told, complex, often dark and tumultuous love story. I won’t forget
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved/hated this book but I think ultimately I loved it more than I hated it. It's a beautiful unlikely love story and aspects of it reminded me of Our Souls at Night, though of course stylistically the two books could not be more different. I love McBride's approach to prose and her style is unique and challenging and exciting and wonderful. The squalor and bedsits of north London in the 90s come alive here and you can smell the cigarettes and sex. And the sex is MAGNIFICENT – writ ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017-reads
Mediocre - basically a stereotypical "older man/female college freshman" romance where the young female protagonist is taught about love and heartbreak by this 40-something with a lot of baggage (who is healed by 18yo naivete of course). I would've put this book down on page 2 had the author been male (as this is such a stereotypical male writer's fantasy) but I decided to give the benefit of the doubt and soldier on - waste of time, no surprises here.

The narrative style is very stream of consc
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Eimear McBride was born in Liverpool in 1976 to Irish parents. The family moved back to Ireland when she was three. She spent her childhood in Sligo and Mayo. Then, at the age of 17, she moved to London.

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