Customer Reviews


100 Reviews
5 star:
 (35)
4 star:
 (16)
3 star:
 (10)
2 star:
 (10)
1 star:
 (29)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


74 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the real thing
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, proudly bearing a quote from Anne Enright on the front cover of the Australian edition, reminds readers of what The Gathering might have been.

The style is experimental. Verbs are scarce - apparently Eimear McBride wanted to portray just what the girl saw - and sentences tend to be fragmentary. In particular, in the opening...
Published 9 months ago by MisterHobgoblin

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Totally unreadable.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

74 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the real thing, 11 Dec 2013
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (Paperback)
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, proudly bearing a quote from Anne Enright on the front cover of the Australian edition, reminds readers of what The Gathering might have been.

The style is experimental. Verbs are scarce - apparently Eimear McBride wanted to portray just what the girl saw - and sentences tend to be fragmentary. In particular, in the opening sections when the girl is a young child, the ideas are not even half-formed and the narrative is hard to follow. The reader has to read between the lines. Later on, as the girl passes through teenage and on to young adulthood, the ideas are clearer and the narrative has a firmer shape. This could be a relief, except that the subject matter becomes darker and darker as the narrative clears.

Growing up in rural Ireland some time ago (exact timing is not clear, probably 1980s/1990s), life has dealt the girl a modest hand. There are people in the world far worse off, but there are others who have landed up with broader horizons and happier home lives. The girl's father has died; her brother is a brain tumour survivor; her uncle is creepy and her mother lacks any strength of resolve. Despite this, the girl manages to fly the nest and study at university.

The novel does have a plot - and a slow-burning shocker it is too - but the strength is the use of this extraordinary narrative style to build a world and build a person. It is not so much about what happens to the girl as about how it affects the girl. How and whether it changes her development. This is the joy of the title - we see a young person with a distinctive personality nevertheless being moulded and shaped as she grow by those around her. Right up until the end, it's not quite clear what the final shape will be, how nature and nurture will resolve their struggle against one another.

The narrative style does come with frustrations too. There's no point pretending that there weren't times that I wanted to throw the book across the room, slowly plodding through a soupy mire of abstractions. There were times one wanted to tell Eimear to just get on with it - especially the first half of the final section feels overlong. But miraculously, it is all pulled back at the end; all the effort seems worthwhile and the flabby sections no longer feel flabby. There is great beauty in the novel, but you only appreciate it by standing back at the end and seeing the whole. Does that sound pretentious?

There have been comparisons made to Joyce and Beckett. I can see that, though this is not as abstract as Finnegan's Wake, not as narrative as Ulysses and a whole lot warmer than Beckett. If anything, it reminded me of Edna O'Brien's Country Girls or John McGahern's The Dark - provincial and unexpectedly primitive, but with bright lights of opportunity shining through at times. There is a risk that Girl is a derivative, imitative work that will be dismissed as a fraud. But right here, right now, it feels like a genuine, authentic article that represents the emergence of a monster talent. If I had doubts when I laid the book down, they are evaporating by the hour. Girl has the hallmarks of a major work of our time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's more to it than the writing!, 1 Sep 2014
By 
I had not seen any review of this book before I read it (bought it because of a bus poster) but was curious to read them afterwards. I was mildly surprised about their focus, as I thought there were more interesting discussions to be had than the style of writing. I left with open ended questions about the nature of shame, abuse, pain and sexual experience, male reactions to female sexuality, judgement, compassion, guilt (and the difference between male/female and child/adult responses to this), religion (with an added layer if you were raised Catholic), fear, wilful blindness, and the many ways that vulnerability presents ....and more. Any book that can achieve this in such a short piece of writing, that doesn't at any point read like a psychology text book, should be read.

If you are looking for a happy time, stay clear. But anyone unsure about whether to read because amazon reviews say the book a) is impossible to lose yourself in or b) has no sympathetic characters, don't be put off. I am not a fan of experimental writing in any way but after getting the hang of the first 30 pages was fully swept along and read it compulsively in one sitting. The 3 central characters are complex but not unsympathetic. When I needed more detail/clarity and wanted answers to "did he? did she? when will she tell me why? - it was to brace myself again what was happening and because I was unnerved and wanted it to be made nice and easy; that I even cared is a testament to the power of the writing. The last book I read that made me feel this way was Last Exit to Brooklyn rather than anything by Joyce.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intense debut, 8 Aug 2014
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing isn’t a novel that can be enjoyed, well, for me anyway. It’s a reading experience. The novel breathes Ireland and Irishness, in the most stereotypical isolated Catholic community way. The Catholic-ness of the novel can’t be underestimated and it is even more pronounced in the style that McBride uses. Being inside her head makes it impossible to escape her flitting from thought to thought and a combination of railing against the world (as above) and endless Catholic and familial guilt seems to drive her every thought process and movement.

My obsession with names irritated me throughout, I’m always a bit disappointed when I don’t get to know my narrator’s name but this is another novel in which there is no clue. Paragraphs throw you from inside her brain to direct dialogue to overheard conversations. It took me about 30 pages to get into a rhythm with the narrator, her voice had to fit into its own pattern in my head before I could really get through to her story but once it did, I tore on and it was worth the sticky beginning.

Experiments aside, this novel allows the narrator to lay it completely bare. The inside-the-mind narration means brutality is confronted head on, difficult, awkward moments, you’re plunged in at the deep end and the fleeting moments of softness (the narrator seemed quite hard/emotionless to me) appear natural and genuine. The second person tense narration seems to be an attempt to put you (not the reader but her brother) at the centre of the novel but for me it is her who remains in my mind and doesn’t leave the limelight.

This is the first novel I’ve ever read that is initially narrated by a foetus, there should me some kind of award for that or something!

I’m interested to see what McBride does next and if there is any way she isn’t completely terrified of what happens next in her career.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The reviews here slating this book for its bad grammar are ridiculous, 7 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The reviews here slating this book for its bad grammar are ridiculous. If you need to read conventional books that stick to the rules then this is not the book for you, and quite frankly anyone would be able to tell in the first few pages if they are going to like this or not. It is what it is. A stream of consciousness from the narrators mind. It therefore does not need to follow the rules of grammar, language and punctuation. The book is what goes on inside her mind; thoughts, feelings, images, sounds. I personally find it brave and a breath of fresh air. It is however a harrowing read, and some of the scenes, if you can call them that, had me wincing. I cared about the narrator and I almost wanted to reach into the book and shake her at times. The only reason I have not given this book five stars is that it has a tragic end, which I was dreading. A bit more hope would have been nice.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A story without stabilisers, 25 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The first thing everyone says about this book is ‘it’s a hard read’.
It is. Unconventional in its prose style: confrontational in its subject. McBride’s fractured rendition of conversations and distinctively Irish English, plus the disregard for the norms of punctuation, dialogue tags or attribution makes the reader either work hard or relax.
I recommend the latter. Forget the fact standard reader-signposts are absent and realise you are not being told a story, but being drawn into an experience.

Our unnamed narrator expresses herself and her formative experiences with feeling rather than eloquence– as the author puts it, ‘balancing on the moment just before language becomes formatted thought’.

There is much to think about; familial bonds, the strictures and comforts of religion, the unfairness of disease, perceptions of self and identity as defined in the eyes of others and female sexuality and how it can be (ab)used. McBride neither shows nor tells of the love, shame and guilt battling within our protagonist. By dint of brutal poetry and risky narration, she makes the reader feel it too.

This is the third book I’ve read from independent small publishers Galley Beggar Press, and I’m so glad they exist. Otherwise books like this would not.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Initially it takes awhile to get in to this book ..., 7 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Initially it takes awhile to get in to this book but persevere, its worth it. It's such an original voice and the story, albeit disturbing, is thoroughly engaging.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, 23 July 2014
Totally unreadable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


144 of 178 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is a half-formed book, 26 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have written a review of A Girl is a Half-formed Thing in the style of in which this book is written.

Bad bad bad book. Writing style terrible hard to read impossible to lose self in. No character insight no character sympathetic. Plot full horrible happenings then very implausible action from narrator then even more horrible happenings. Too. Many. Full. Stops. Twohundredandtwentypages of this. More fun writing than reading. Still ask why author did it? Innovative avant garde style? Published bamboozled critics Bailey’s prize nominated Bailey’s prize shortlisted. No clothes emperor.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different, 16 July 2014
This is written in the style of a stream of consciousness and it is very hard to get used to. It follows a girl from infancy to adulthood and her troubled life and what occurs to her. As it starts from infancy the beginning is very hard to follow as as well as it not being in proper sentences the thought processes are jumbled as it is a child. It gets easier to follow as the girl grows up and I quite enjoyed reading a book in a different style and it does read like poetry at times which I also found to be quite interesting as a change. The girls has a younger brother with a brain tumour and as a result the girl has quite a difficult and emotional life which comes across in the book. The girls life progressively gets worse and builds to an interesting climax. I would recommend this as a read, I quite enjoyed it and read it very fast and as something a bit different it is very refreshing to read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful., 23 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Don't struggle with the sentence structure, just let the words sweep you along. The awful agonies and occasipnal lyrical wonders of youth are breathtaking and absorbin g. I couldn't go on but nor could I put it down. Wonderful.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Paperback - 27 Jun 2013)
£9.40
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews