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The Virgin Suicides: Reissued [Paperback]

Jeffrey Eugenides
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Oct 2011
The shocking thing about the girls was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives. Twenty years on, their enigmatic personalities are embalmed in the memories of the boys who worshipped them and who now recall their shared adolescence: the brassiere draped over a crucifix belonging to the promiscuous Lux; the sisters' breathtaking appearance on the night of the dance; and the sultry, sleepy street across which they watched a family disintegrate and fragile lives disappear.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (3 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408825708
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408825709
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeffrey Eugenides -- winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Middlesex -- was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1960. His first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was published in 1993, and has since been translated into fifteen languages and made into a major motion picture. His second novel, Middlesex, was an international bestseller. Jeffrey Eugenides is the recipient of many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and The National Foundation for the Arts, a Whiting Writers' Award, and the Harold D. Vursell Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been a Fellow of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm of the DAAD and of the American Academy in Berlin. Jeffrey Eugenides lives in Berlin.

Product Description


'One of the finest novels in many years - a Catcher in the Rye for our time' (Observer)

'Wonderfully original' (Independent)

'One of the finest novels - I have read in many years... a wonderful mixture of amusement, wistfulness and contained grief' (John Banville)

'Entire and unstoppable... a sparkling work' (The Times)

Choreographed with daunting measures of menace and grace, this elegiac celebration of beauty, philosophical acceptance, youthful longing and lasting regret remains one of the finest literary debuts of all (Eileen Battersby Irish Times 2011-11-19)

Book Description

The international bestseller, reissued to coincide with the publication of The Marriage Plot

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I got it but I didn't get it 5 April 2006
By imla
I wanted to love this book. I wanted to fall head over heels in love with it. I thought I would aswell. Books about teenagers are my thing, books about suburbia are my thing, books about suicide are my thing. This should have been my thing, but it wasn't.
This is the story about the Lisbon girls, five sisters who all killed themselves, told by the neighbourhood boys who were, and still are, infatuated with them. It is written beautifully and from the opening few pages I thought this was going to be the perfect book but I soon became disappointed.
For me there was no plot, it was just an account of people's responses to the suicides. I struggled to get a grip of the characters, there were too many names mentioned without personalities attached - this wasn't too much of a problem but my big problem came when I realised I only felt like I knew two of the five Lisbon sisters. If I felt like I knew them more then perhaps I would have cared about the book.
I recognised the ending was good but it could have been better. I got a sense of knowing what the author was trying to say but feeling he hadn't quite managed to say it.
After looking at the other reviews I realise I am in the minority - proving everyone has a different opinion. All I can guess is that I just didn't get it.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "the insufficiency of explanations" 1 Feb 2007
After reading Eugenides masterful Middlesex, I decided to go back and read his much slimmer debut novel in the hopes it was at least partially as good. While it's not quite as amazing as Middlesex, it is quite good in its own peculiar way. However, those who like their novels to answer the questions they raise should be forewarned, as they will likely find it a rather unsatisfying experience.

Set in the early '70s in the tony Detroit suburb of Grosse Point, the story's premise is outlined in the very first paragraph: over the course of a year, all five of the teenaged Lisbon sisters commit suicide. This year is described in an unusual second-person plural voice which is that of a group of neighborhood boys (now men) who, some twenty years later, are reviewing the results of their "investigation" into the suicides. (There doesn't seem be any particular point to laying this out as an investigation, as opposed to a memoir, and this framework is a little shaky in that various "exhibits" and "attachments" are referred to in the narrative, but unavailable to the reader.)

So while the reader is aware from the start that this is a tragedy, the expectation is that the story will go on to explain why this occurred, what drove the girls to do this. And while the story beautifully details that dismal year, and reports on all the speculation by the neighborhood adults who project their own worldviews onto the tragedy, it concludes: "We were certain only of the insufficiency of explanations." And that is presumably the main point of the book --that suicide cannot ever be explained because we can never have access to the person's thoughts and emotions. This also explains the use of the second-person perspective, as Eugenides implicitly rejects the notion of the omniscient narrator.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic novel of adolescent love and obsession 12 May 2002
By A Customer
I saw the film and wanted to read the book to understand the concept more. I wasn't disappointed and was sucked in by the world the boys inhabit and the intensity of their feelings. The girls are indeed mystical creatures and fascinated me from beginning to end. This is a must for all who have seen the film and should not be missed!!!!!
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicate and perceptive 3 April 2007
By Jaybird
This is a really fantastic book, beautifully observed and and elegantly written. It tells the story of 5 teenage sisters who all commit suicide, one after the other.

The book is told from the perspective of the boys who fantasise about them. Although their voices merge, it is the insight into those teenage boys which is the most real and striking - their obsessive fascination and cataloguing, their curiosity about the girls and everything about them, at an age when most actual physical boy-girl contact was awkward fumbling and sweaty hand-holding.

The description of the decay of the family home as the family slowly sinks into despair is equally convincing.

You are totally swept up into Eugenides world, through his evocative descriptions of dust, smells, and tiny details of observation.

Coppola's film is good, but not as good as the book, because in the end the film is about the Lisbon sisters, who remain ultimately enigmatic in the book, whereas the book is about the boys who observe them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars too thinly drawn to be a masterpiece 23 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The Virgin Suicides" is a highly original novel in both content and writing - Jeffrey Eugenides is endlessly creative in his descriptions of the Lisbon girls and all that's associated with them. Written from the perspective of a besotted neighbourhood boy, many years after the Lisbon girls mysteriously killed themselves, the book deals with the events surrounding this rather gruesome premiss in an investigative way, even to the point of mentioning (but not giving) "exhibit # ...".

But a "'Catcher in the Rye' for our times" as a review is quoted on the cover? Most emphatically not. The story could not keep my disbelief suspended, as they say. Despite florid descriptions of the house the girls live in and opinions of all who get their say (interviewed after many years by the storyteller), we don't get to know the main protagonists at all - which may be a way of keeping them 'mysterious' but it's not very satisfying. The storyteller and his friends are quite engrossed and mystified by the girls, but I found it hard to believe that this went as far as watching the Lisbon house for days, weeks and months on end without getting bored by lack of result, especially as we don't get any picture of the years before the tragedy starts. We get a lot of theories thrown at us by the storyteller as to why the girls kill themselves, but the one glaring hugely at you, the enormous dysfunctionality of the Lisbon family, hardly gets real attention. Mrs Lisbon, obviously the main culprit of the whole tragedy, is more like an evil force of nature than a woman of flesh and blood, and her wraith-like husband is equally non-human. What made this couple go so far as to keep the girls at home? There is an extreme lack of background information here.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Was looking forward to this, but ultimately disappointed. From the synopsis it sounded good and was a choice from my book club. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Anna Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars an author worth waiting for
Like Donna Tartt, Eugenides does not have a prolific output. But who cares when you have the opportunity to read someone as insightful and as lyrical as he is? Read more
Published 19 days ago by live consumer
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept on 'til the end.
Aren't the 99p Kindle purchases wonderful, persuading us to buy books we wouldn't look at normally? I found this tale - and the tone of the whole book- quite fascinating.
Published 1 month ago by margins
3.0 out of 5 stars Unique and stimulating, but with a surprisingly sparse plot
Based on a very interesting concept, this is a highly original novel with an unusual surreal quality. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lobster
2.0 out of 5 stars Its rubbish
There is hardly a storyline to it. Its told by some boys who spy on these girls in the house opposite. Please please don't buy it.
Published 1 month ago by Sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars Best since Nabokov
The best American writing since Nabokov. There's poetry in every sentence. Don't be put off by the morbid subject matter.
Published 2 months ago by angela murray
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and lingers long after read
I heard the book discussed a few years ago on the radio and was delighted when it was a Kindle deal - I'd now happily pay full price for it and will be reading it again. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dog lover
1.0 out of 5 stars Sexless, dreary, pretentious tedium
Read all the other one stars; they hit the nail on the head. This book is boring beyond oblivion; don't waste precious time on reading it; it's simply not worth the effort. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Alan S R Howarth
4.0 out of 5 stars The Virgin Suicides
Set sometime in the early 1970's in a Michigan suburb, this is the disturbing story of five sisters who all commit suicide over a year. Read more
Published 3 months ago by S Riaz
5.0 out of 5 stars startlingly brilliant.
It's hard to imagine reading this book without knowing storyline, or perhaps having seen the movie. Whilst the storyline is unique, moody and a startling snapshot into suburbia... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Laura
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