Eileen

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Sep 2017

Member Reviews

LOVE this book! It's so visceral and unsettling. I route for Eileen even as I despise her...definitely worth a read!
Was this review helpful?
Eileen is a damaged soul, and a damaged person.

I have known ladies like Eileen and there but for the grace of God go I...  this is a gut wrenching novel that might also be someones saviour.

It is a superbly told tale and I really enjoyed the unfolding, mainly because I felt I understood her.

not an easy read and some will not like her.. with an understanding most readers will
Was this review helpful?
Book Review: Eileen
Author: Ottessa Moshfegh
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Review Date: August 8, 2018

My apologies to NetGalley, the publisher and author that this review is two years late. All I can say is that I was struggling with illness two years ago and now am making a great effort in keeping my reviews timely and up to date. 

Whew! The hits keep on coming. Though there is a caveat: this is a book that was dark from the start, and then towards the end it took a turn towards a much greater darkness. If a light and fluffy summer beach read is what you’re looking for, this is not the book for you. 

This book is a character study of Eileen, a 24-year daughter of a deceased mother, and a father she still lives with, who is a retired cop and is now a completely dysfunctional and fairly crazy drunk. 

Eileen works at a home (prison) for adolescent boys charged with crimes from theft on up to murder. 

She is a completely emotionally shut down young woman, who is herself dysfunctional emotionally as her father. She is cruel and hard-hearted to the core, desperate for love, attention and affection. 

The author has written an extraordinary character study. The writing is spare, with short sentences that are easy to read. Kind of like eating something that is poison: it tastes good, then corrodes your insides. 

Toward the very end of the book, the plot takes a turn towards greater and unexpected (to me) darkness. I don’t want to give any plot spoilers away here. 

This is first class writing. Character development, plot structure and even sentence structure are masterly. 

I can’t wait to read more by Ottessa Moshfegh. She is definitely one of the shining lights on the American literature scene. 5 Star+, highly, highly recommended. 

This review will be posted on NetGalley, Amazon, Goodreads, Instagram and Facebook.
Was this review helpful?
This is a strange and unusual coming of age tale. I was excited to read it when I heard it was a favorite of John Waters - film king of weird perversions. Though it wasn't as weird as I thought it would be, it is a thoroughly interesting character dissection. Moshfegh has a great future ahead of her. 

Thank you Netgalley for my copy for an unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
Eileen is a deeply disturbed young lady and this book takes you into her head, leaving you feeling strangely connected with her. Not a happy book, but a beautifully written one which fully deserved its Booker shortlisting
Was this review helpful?
Moshfegh is an astounding literary voice. This is breathtakingly spare prose with a mastery of character and plot. Sublime writing; unforgiving yet humane. Faultless.
Was this review helpful?
Review	I'm reviewing this book for a radio show and that is pretty much the only reason why I finished it. I honestly wanted to stop reading after the first page. 

There is now a disturbing trend of female protagonists who are unlikable and self-involved and I don't understand it. 

We follow Eileen who works at a boys' prison, has deadbeat dad, a dead mother and an estranged sister. She has no life, is overly concerned with her appearance and has a crush on a prison guard who doesn't acknowledge her. In the midst of this comes manic pixie dream girl Rebecca and suddenly Eileen's world is turned upside down. 

The problem with this book is that there are too many pages (not just paragraphs, but pages) dedicated to Eileen's scrutinizing of her experience. It made me want to rip the book in half. And it goes on and on in this way. Infuriating. 

Unfortunately, the best part of the book is a minor plot that comes in in the last third of the book. Honestly, that should have been the entire story, not Eileen whingeing about her stupid face. 

The payoff was excellent in this book but such a long setup lessened the impact. I wish I'd only read the last 50 pages!
Was this review helpful?
An unforgettable character with a darkly humorous story - I absolutely loved it!
Was this review helpful?
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

4.75 stars

“But I deplored silence. I deplored stillness. I hated almost everything.”

NOTE: I am not spoiling any major events in the spoiler tags, but I do hint to characters' pathology and actions without mentioning what the big finale/climax is. Click at your own risk.

Eileen recounts the reason why she left X-ville at the age of twenty-four. Eileen Dunlop lives with her alcoholic father and works at the local juvenile detention center, Moorehead. When Rebecca Saint John, arrives Eillen begins to find her place that she has been searching for, but one-night leads down a dark path. A path Eileen has a morbid fascination and obsession with. In this psychological novel, Eileen’s story is brought forth in an intense character study. This study is provided by Eileen herself as she tells the story of who she was and why she left X-ville. Since Eileen is the one providing thoughts on her own demeaner, actions, and obsessions, the story itself is incredibly unreliable. We are given no information as to if everything or anything Eileen leads us to be is real or actually happened. We also don’t know if her actions weren’t altered or if her memory of events has faded as she gets older. This character study of a disturbingly morbid woman is provided by an old woman who was an avid alcoholic and thief. Moshfegh leads Eileen down a winding road of quiet stillness, drunken stupors at home, lolling moments in her life, and ends the novel with a large bang. Not everyone is going to Eileen, the story or the narrator. In fact, I think to like this novel you have to dislike Eileen. That’s what makes this psychological thriller so brilliant. It’s unlike anything I’ve read. It stands on its own for being a slow-burn introduction that hints to what is to come and leaves off with an intense unforgettable bang that alters the pace of the story and the reader’s perception of Eileen.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.5

“I was always furious, seething, my thoughts racing, my mind like a killer’s. It was easy to hide behind the dull face I wore.”

Eileen is a disgusting character. She says questionable things, mentions a lot of orifices, and has uncomfortable obsessions. She judges her father’s harsh and heavy drinking, but partakes in drinking just as much as he does. She has an obsession that turns into stalking with a coworker at Moorehead. She obsesses over gruesome possibilities of death or murder. Eileen is an unsettling woman and as an old lady, she pities who she was and describes in great detail how pathetic the Eileen of the past was. While, Eileen is horrible she is also fascinating and is a character that could lead to countless hours of discussion. The most interesting thing about Eileen is  (tagged as spoiler in review) that she hints to obsessions with morbid and macabre acts of violence, but when faced with the ability to kill someone, she attempts to console the possible victim. It provides knowledge that Eileen is just a person who doesn’t know who she is, but when confronted with the opportunity to partake in the darkest of humanities acts, she shows kindness in multiple different ways.


Rebecca quickly becomes Eileen’s newest obsession and hope to be noticed. Eileen longs for friendship, companionship, but most of all she longs for someone to listen to her. Rebecca is a glamorous new doctor at Moorehead that offers Eileen the chance to reinvent herself. Slowly, Eileen hints that Rebecca may be more manipulative that she seems. There are subtle hints, mainly in phrasing and odd word choice. For instance, a normal conversation with Eileen has the odd phrasing of, “It’s sort of my modus vivendi, or my pathology- depending on who I’m talking to.” Rebecca immediately struck me as off and as the story progresses, it’s obvious that she is just as lost as Eileen and as morbid.(Tagged as spoiler in review) Rebecca orchestrates this big set up, but in the end, she is a coward who leaves Eileen to clean up the mess she made.


The only other large character in this novel is Eileen’s father. He is an ever-looming presence, skulking in the corners of Eileen’s mind. His character is really detestable, as all the characters in this novel are. However, I won’t say too much about him because the more I say about him, the more I’d give away about Eileen’s backstory.


Character Scale: 5

Villain Scale: 5

This is a character driven story and the opening 20% relies completely upon characters. There isn’t much plot in this story, but I feel that is what makes this such a successful psychological thriller. The problem with most psychological thrillers today is that they want to be the next Gone Girl or want to have the novel with the most shocking, groundbreaking twists. However, the problem with having shocking, crazy twists is that they leave plot holes in a character study. It’s why The Girl on the Train didn’t work for me. I found it to be cheap, but Eileen works for me because all the signs pointed to where this was going to build up. The question was the ending and how everything played out.


I only recommend this novel to those who love character studies, unreliable narrators, psychology, and slow pacing. I think this is the perfect read for the winter. The story’s setting is cold, emotionless, and bone-chilling. While this story isn’t for everyone, I am so happy to have picked this up. I wouldn’t have ever picked this novel up, if I hadn’t heard about it from someone who has similar tastes in psychological thrillers as me.
Tagged as spoiler in review“I’m not a criminal. She deserves far worse, but I’m no villain.”

Plotastic Scale: 4.5

Cover Thoughts: I don’t feel like the cover is striking, but it has an audience who will be pulled to pick it up.

Thank you, Netgalley and Penguin Press, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
The book was disturbing, intriguing, disgusting and twisted -all in a good way. The writing style is gripping and makes you want to finish the whole thing in one sitting.
But why 2.5 stars, then? you might be asking. I don't like when authors o publishers think they are better than the reader/consumer, that they know what we like and would buy; them trying to play puppet master.
Was this review helpful?
Moshfegh's newest novel brought to mind Wally Lamb's "She's Come Undone" with an unlikable yet brutally honest protagonist. Eileen is an extrememly neurotic young woman whose low self-esteem allows her to be coralled into a crime that ultimately changes her life. Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
What I quickly realized while reading this novel is that it is nothing like it’s advertised. I thought this was going to be centered around a mystery, or a tragic event that occurred, but that was not the case. This book is not the least bit plot driven. In fact, the main plot point doesn’t happen until two-thirds of the way through the book. Instead, this book is a character study centered around Eileen.

I have never despised a character more than I did Eileen. She is self-obsessed, unhygienic, insecure, a borderline alcoholic, a stalker, and utterly despicable. Reading about her day to day life and her thoughts was so upsetting and frankly, a little boring. I understand that there are some characters that are going to be hard to like, but it was impossible to like Eileen. It was impossible to like any of the characters. I felt no empathy or connection to any of them.

The plot was so slow that I found it a chore to keep reading. I was interested in the big event that happened, but once it did, it was a major let down because it was so boring and unoriginal.

The only tolerable thing about this novel was the fact that the writing was very graphic and caused me to have a physical reaction (even if the reaction was mostly disgust). I applaud Ottessa Moshfegh for being able to elicit such a response from the reader, but the writing was unable to make up for how dull the story was and how unlikeable Eileen was. I don’t recommend this novel unless you’re really in the mood for a character study.
Was this review helpful?
I pretty much wanted to read this one the moment it came out; between the cover, the Boston setting, and the sense of noir-ish-ness I got from the plot, it seemed like a sure hit for me. I made it the January pick for my book club and ... I'm glad I read this book, but I'm really ambivalent about it. (Most of my book club hated it, although more than one person admired the raw narrative style.)

Set around Christmas in 1963, the novel is narrated by Eileen. A much older Eileen tells us this story, and she offers up her younger self on a platter, unvarnished and exposed.

Eileen works as a secretary in a boy's juvenile detention facility/prison. She lives with her father, an retired police office and alcoholic who is plagued by terrors (and perhaps mental illness). Eileen's life shuttles between work and home, where she spends most of her time in resentful meditation of her small world and the people in it. She loathes everyone around her, and she has no escape from the misery, real or self-induced. It's only when Rebecca, the pretty and cheerful and unorthodox new counselor arrives does Eileen's life change.

This book felt straight-up Catcher in the Rye, but with a lady; only Eileen is a hell of a lot more honest than Holden ever was, and definitely more badass. (In her vicious, restrained way.) Older Eileen, our narrator, seems well adjusted despite, frankly, being such a cold, odd young woman; yet she recounts this time period with a squeamish attention to detail, savoring the ways she was horrible and monstrous and naive. I couldn't decide if I wanted to revile or hug Eileen.

Most of the book reads kind of like a coming-of-age; but in the last quarter of the book, the story makes a jackknife dive into seriously effed up territory, and that's when I started to really enjoy things. There was a real noir-ish feel to the story that I just ate up.

So...I think I liked this book? I can't tell. But I'm a bit obsessed with it; Moshfegh's open admission she wrote it to gain fame and success has me breathlessly in awe of her.

If you enjoy unlikable characters and messed up young women, seedy settings and depressed dissolution, get this one. (And then tell me because I want to obsess about the end!)
Was this review helpful?
My review is up on Amazon under my name Kimberly-Aisha Hashmi.  Gripping, touching, horrible, funny, all shows aced in this touching novel.
Was this review helpful?
I honestly couldn't bring myself to finish this. This is only 272 pages but I couldn't even get past page 35. It had so much disgusting imagery and descriptions. Eileen was a flat character. And no I'm not talking about her breasts which she did like 10 times in 5 pages. Like calm down girl.
Was this review helpful?
There was something quite compelling about this but ultimately I felt it didn't quite match my expectations from what I'd heard about this. The blurb seemed somewhat misleading in that the "strange crime" that is alluded to doesn't occur until the very end and then it feels like an afterthought rather than an important plot point . Nonetheless it was an interesting read and I would certainly read more of Ottessa Moshfegh's work
Was this review helpful?
This excerpt was exactly what I needed in order to go ahead and by the book.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book. I also enjoy very dark things, but the ending of this was hard to handle.
Was this review helpful?
COME ON EILEEN.

I won’t mince words: this book is a complete downer. The first half consists of Eileen’s diatribe, a scathing attack on her father, herself, her life. But the writing marks Ottessa Moshfegh as an author to watch.

Moshfegh gives us a thoroughly dislikeable narrator in the scrawny, shambolic shape of Eileen who has an unspeakable attitude, appalling habits and an entirely dysfunctional relationship with her alcoholic ex-cop father. They live in utter squalor in a town Eileen refers to only as X-ville. She works in the office of a local correctional facility for young male offenders and doesn’t have a friend in the world…until one day Rebecca walks into the workplace. Beautiful, glamorous, confident – Rebecca is everything Eileen is not. But is Rebecca for real?

The ominous tone hanging over this story is compounded by the frequent phrases of foreboding generously scattered throughout. I have to say I'm not a fan of this device - it's rather too manipulative of the reader - and as is so often the case, the outcome doesn't quite live up to the suspense nor is the character of Rebecca satisfactorily explained. The book is by no means an easy read in terms of its seedy subject matter but it is, nevertheless, an interesting, fearless and thoughtful piece of work.
Was this review helpful?